Ricky Gervais: creator of The Office, Extras, and now... Derek - a bittersweet comedy-drama following a group of people working in an old people's home. Here's what the show's stars - Gervais, Karl Pilkington, Kerry Godliman and David Earl - have to say about their characters and the importance raising awareness for the elderly.
Derek Noakes played by Ricky Gervais - a simple but good-natured man who works with his best friend Dougie in an old people's home.
Why did you choose to write about a care home?
Half my family are care workers. My sister works with kids with learning difficulties, my sister-in-law works in a care home for people with Alzheimer's and four or five of my nieces work in old people's homes. I always write about what I know.
Tell us about your character, Derek.
He sees things very differently from the rest of us. He can say funny things because he does it with innocence and sincerity. He is like us when we were eight, before we discovered lying and competition and selfishness and started to shut up when we were excited in case it looked uncool. Derek is scruffy and people dismiss him, but he is pretty perfect because he possesses the only thing that matters, which is kindness.
It sounds like being kind is a pretty important component of the show...
Absolutely. If there is a theme, it's kindness. Kindness trumps everything. And that's why the main characters have to be outsiders and losers. They all have to be deficient in everything except doing the right thing. They're still better people than you if you're not kind. Derek is so non-judgemental but he sees through bullshit too. He only has one agenda: "What's the right thing to do?: He's just "good" and nothing takes his eye off the ball.
There's a strong sense of being "in it together" amongst the care home workers and residents, isn't there?
They're fighting the outside world. I have a lot of uncaring intruders coming into the care home. A council worker comes in and he clearly doesn't care, sons and daughters drop off their parents and immediately start looking at their watches. The residents and care workers are one big family.
Have you cast Derek as a good role model then?
Definitely. Superheroes fight evil, and in Derek I wanted to create a superhero who leads by example. He's terrified by spiders, but he would never harm one. He is the best person I know. He's funny and sweet and kind and sincere and helpful and enthusiastic and honest, and that trumps everything he isn't. I love Derek!