Saturday, 17 March 2012

Channel 4 not taking Ricky Gervais sitcom DEREK to series

Saturday, 17 March 2012
Ricky Gervais' latest sitcom Derek, his first for Channel 4, hasn't been picked up for a full series by the broadcaster. Instead, the already-filmed pilot (which stars Gervais as an "outsider" called Derek Noakes who works in a retirement home) will be shown as a "one-off comedy drama" by BAFTA on 27 March. Tickets cost £7.50 and the screening will be followed by a Q&A with Gervais himself.

The decision not to turn Derek into a fully-fledged sitcom doesn't surprise me. I was astonished even a pilot was filmed, because the character of Derek (who appeared in one of Gervais' sketches in his pre-Office days) felt like a lazy and uncomfortable imitation of mentally/physically-handicapped people. Apparently the character was softened for the purposes of this pilot, but Channel 4 perhaps didn't want to deal with the likely controversy and claims of bad taste—particularly so soon after Gervais' self-made PR nightmare over his inappropriate use of the word "mong" on Twitter.

It hasn't been a good year for Gervais so far, beyond his hosting of the Golden Globes (and even that was a paler shadow of the previous year.) There are currently strong rumours the BBC are about to axe his sitcom Life's Too Short, following similarly bad reviews from US critics during its run on HBO.

Maybe Derek will be shown as part of Channel 4's Comedy Showcase season later this year, then we can judge for ourselves...

Update: Channel have announced they'll show Derek in April, and perhaps rethink their decision based on audience/critical response.