Stephen Merchant



It's a Wrap: Ricky Gervais Ends HBO's Extras

Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant have elected not to do a third season of Extras, and instead will wrap up the HBO series with a "one-off" special, as they did before with the U.K. edition of The Office, says the Hollywood Reporter. Explaining that the idea to end the run was in its very early stages, a rep for the duo says no timetable is in place for the series ender, but that Gervais and Merchant "will, at some point, sit down... and write it." Oooh, I love how mysterious and exotic the TV-making process sounds! read more

February 18, 2007: "Poppa Johnnie Loves Wossy"

Extras, Extras, Read All About It!So, it’s official, according to Ricky Gervais, it is “unlikely” that Season 2 of the fantastic British comedy Extras will be followed by a corresponding Season 3. Boo-hoo is all I have to say. And as I watched the opening sequence of this week’s episode, I felt the telling was in the tale. As Andy sits in Jonathon Ross’ hot seat, a foreshadowing of things to come sets the tone. (Jonathan Ross — known to everyone as “Wossy” — is the host of a very popular British talk show that I only saw once when Jim Carrey was on, and it was ludicrous. Jim Carrey is a ridiculous amount of fun, and Jonathan was a good sport as well.) One can only assume that Ricky has set his sights on other options. Jonathan asks Andy if it will be more of the same or will he branch out. Andy replies he’d like to do some serious acting with the “greatest actor in the world,” Robert De Niro. Little did I know that Mr. De N... read more

February 11, 2007: "I Am Not Actually a Wizard"

If I were as clever as the writers on Extras, I would, well I guess we know what I wouldn’t be doing. But, I might make a witty remark about the absurd hilarity of Ricky Gervais’ humor. Suffice it to say, this ep was perhaps the cleverest of the bunch. You all know how I feel about Stephen Merchant, and he only made me love him more here. His ability to make everyone completely uncomfortable with no actual knowledge that he’s doing it is the crux for some of the most hilarious moments of the series. I laughed so loudly my neighbor stopped by to make sure I wasn’t being murdered. And I was — this show slayed me. There’s no good place to start since the entire episode was pure genius. We were graced by Sir Ian McKellan’s presence and we got to see Germaine Greer, one of the most important feminists ever. This is the show in which Andy seeks to gain some respect by getting theater work. His foray into theater proves hysterical as he finds he is meant ... read more

February 4, 2007: Calm Down. Muffin?

Andy stars in a PSA in which he asks the question, “What would you rather, your child die of thirst or dysentery?” A question very similar to the ones Maggie asks of him from time to time. Chris Martin from Coldplay is up next on the PSA bandwagon and proves even more inappropriate than Andy and his friends. Chris banters about whether or not the dying children could hold his band’s new CD in a promotional spot. Then he tries to wiggle his way onto Andy’s show. Once accomplished, Chris is fed up, “Can we get on with this? I’ve got to do AIDS and Alzheimer’s and landmines this afternoon. And I want to get back for Deal or No Deal. Plus, Gwyneth’s making drumsticks.”Understandably, Andy doesn’t want to have Chris on "When the Whistle Blows" promoting his album, because people will think he’s sold out once again, and they wouldn’t be wrong. But the more flamboyant producer trumps him and has Chris on the show. Andy’s sad... read more

January 28, 2007 - Gypsies Are Eating Our Pets!

Subtitled: Are Celebrities Out of Control?Extras gets funnier every time I see it. It is so good, I had to watch it twice and I believe I laughed even harder the second go-round. Did you know that HBO is airing this show up to a day before it is programmed? I like this idea. I can watch on Saturday and let the juices meld and then write on Sunday, having watched it a second, hilarious time. Stories get out of hand as Andy’s restaurant faux pas turns into a horrible media scandal. When he tries to fix it, he refuses to apologize the entire time, and the spin becomes negative again since he had gotten into a fight with a dwarf and had knocked him unconscious. The episode guest was Daniel Radcliffe, whose naughty little Cub Scout routine was out of control. In a scene where he is dressed as Harry Potter, Daniel says to Maggie, “I’ve done it with a girl, I mean intercourse-wise.” He tries to have it off with every girl on the set — not exactly the Harry Potter... read more

January 21, 2007: Extras 08

The best thing that can be said for Andy’s new show, When the Whistle Blows, is that it has a catchy theme song. It inspires weirdos to approach him and the elite to write lurid songs about him. What do you get when you mingle the description of a crappy show with the word "sitcom"? Wish I could write it here. Darren Lamb, par for the course, tries to make Andy feel better and only depresses him more. The only good review of his show is from the paper that didn’t bother to write about it; it was that bad. Did you know that Ashley Jenson, who plays Maggie, also has a recurring role on the American sitcom Ugly Betty? But it’s her naïveté here that makes her the more charming. She’s Andy’s only real friend, but she has an innocence about her that makes her quite unaware how much she hurts him. It happens quite often, to much comic relief. The scene with the homeless guy is priceless for so many reasons. One) because the homeless guy keeps abreast of a... read more

January 14, 2007: Orlando Bloom

The season premiere of Extras opens on a promised star, Orlando Bloom, in a scene that looks a lot like a British version of The War of the Roses.When the astonishingly good-looking, or so he thinks, Orlando Bloom finds out that Maggie doesn’t think he is all that, he sets out to prove how attractive he is, and in the meantime dishes on Johnny Depp. Orlando’s best line? “Willie Wonka — Johnny Wanker”.Andy has a crisis of identity when he realizes that the sitcom he wrote is not turning out the way he had expected. He is a man surrounded by complete idiots. His agent, Darren Lamb, the incomparable Stephen Merchant, spends more time trying to get his protégé Barry, whose sense of dignity gets called into question, into Andy’s role in the show than he does working with his other client. His friend Maggie doesn’t remember that his show begins shooting that night, and his producers think big glasses are funny. The agent reminds me very much of... read more

Thursdays Are Now Even Better

If you took all the terrific shows that air on Thursday night and spread them out during the week … well, we can dream, can’t we? The crowded list of can’t-miss Thursday shows just grew this week with the addition of Scrubs to NBC’s top-notch two-hour comedy block (30 Rock made its Thursday debut earlier this month), joining My Name Is Earl and The Office (which hits another home-run this week with an episode penned by the original British series’ creators, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant). ABC has also potentially strengthened its hand with the addition of the Friday charmer Men in Trees to its lineup, a tasty nightcap to a first-rate lineup including the adorable Ugly Betty and the once-again-riveting Grey’s Anatomy (even those fickle fans who’d been carping recently have to admit the Thanksgiving night episode was a knockout).CBS is still a powerhouse with Survivor (which kicked into high gear Thanksgiving night as well, with its merger episo... read more

Episode 9: The Convict

Hi, it's me, Kate Flannery from The Office [Thursdays at 8:30 pm/ET, on NBC]. This week's episode was a lot of fun to shoot. I must admit, in the past few weeks I was hesitant to mention some of my scenes because they didn't make it on the air. But has been showing so many of my deleted scenes that I now feel comfortable bringing them up, as long as you keep in mind that you may have to watch them later on the Web (or on the Season 3 DVD extras). OK? That being said, "The Convict" was written by our show's British creators, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. This is the first time they have written specifically for the American version of the show. Pretty cool. Now, usually when we shoot an episode, the writers are on the set all week when we shoot. Ricky and Stephen were not. They haven't been to the set very often. I love it when they come, but when I've seen Ricky there, it seems to me like he is looking at all of us with a sense of, "I can't believe that this exists bec... read more

Office Boss Woos Marge Simpson

The Simpsons' Charlie and the man behind him, Ricky Gervais

The British are coming to Springfield! Or at least one of them is, when Ricky Gervais, the boss man on the original U.K. version of The Office, lends his voice to this Sunday's The Simpsons (8 pm/ET on Fox), in an episode that he also wrote. As Charles, Gervais finds himself filling the role of Marge's new hubby via a Trading Spouses-type reality-show swap. Surprised that it took this long for a Brit wit like Gervais to get his animated due, asked the actor-writer how his Simpsons stint finally came to be. "I'd heard that [creator] Matt [Groening] was a fan," he tells us. "I think he saw [The Office] on a plane to or from England, before it was on BBC America, and then read more

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