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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 December, 2003, 02:25 GMT
Christmas at The Office with Ricky Gervais

By Darren Waters
BBC News Online entertainment staff

Actor and writer Ricky Gervais tells BBC News Online why we should all be spending this Christmas at The Office.

Britain has always enjoyed a love/ hate relationship with its celebrities - the only thing we love more than praising our stars is attacking them when they become too successful.

The Office
The Office returns for a final time at Christmas
By that doctrine Ricky Gervais should prepare for a fraught festive season because he has just enjoyed a remarkable 12 months.

He has been feted at the Baftas, sold record-breaking numbers of The Office on DVD and whipped the country up into a frenzy over the forthcoming The Office Christmas specials.

He has also just scored a unique double at the Golden Globes.

"I've been told The Office is the first non-American sitcom ever to be nominated and I'm the first British actor to be nominated in the category," he says.

"That makes it much more exciting," he adds with considerable understatement.

Despite the success, Britain is not about to turn its back on Gervais.

And even if it did, the United States seems more than willing to embrace his talents - even if Gervais plays it down.

"I will make as much of an impact in the US as Robbie Williams," he jokes.

Ricky Gervais
I can confirm that no-one dies in the making of The Office
Ricky Gervais

Gervais is adamant that the two Christmas specials will be the last outings for his genial creation David Brent.

"My plans would not change even if I won an Oscar. I am not going to do a third season series."

As to what happens in the specials, Gervais says little, except: "There is definitely an end."

He adds: "You'll know it when the credits roll and the music starts playing."

But Gervais has resisted the temptation to send Brent to the great sitcom in the sky.

"I can confirm that no-one dies in the making of The Office," he says.

Preview clips of the specials, on the BBCi website, show The Office making preparations for its Christmas party with Gareth leading a brainstorming session for ideas.

A wet t-shirt competition and "something for the old people" are two of the better suggestions.

Gervais maintains that the decision to end The Office, taken with co-writer Stephen Merchant, has been an easy one.

"There was nothing to think about. It has gone on longer than I ever thought.

"We certainly did not plan to do anything after the second series. Nothing would ever be as good as the first two series."

Gervais knows that The Office will live on long after the end of the Christmas specials, in the way other comedy classics like Fawlty Towers and Dads Army have done.

Matt LeBlanc and Ricky Gervais
Friends and rivals at the Globes

The nominations for Golden Globes will also mean the series will get a higher profile in the arguably the most important television market in the world.

But he says he does not expect US network NBC to start showing the British version of The Office, which found an audience on BBC America, and ditch plans to remake it for American viewers.

"American networks would never show a British comedy because they would fear that not every American would get it," he says.

"They would be looking at the 249 million Americans as a whole, not a few who have seen it on BBC America.

"You have to remember that a hit on BBC America is like a hit on E4."

The Globe nominations, he says, have caught him by surprise.

"I didn't know they were even happening. I don't follow these things.

"I didn't realise it was such a big deal."

It does indeed seem strange to see Gervais' name alongside international stars such as Matt LeBlanc and The Office jostling for honours next to Sex and the City and Will and Grace.

Certainly the recognition is a shot in the arm for British comedy at a time when many TV critics feel US sitcoms have overtaken UK comedies in terms of quality.

The Office Christmas Specials are on BBC One on 26 December at 2215 GMT and 27 December at 2150 GMT.


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