Ricky Gervais has called modern celebrities “desperate, fame-hungry monsters who will do anything just to be on the telly”.
Writing exclusively in the new issue of Radio Times, Gervais says his new sitcom, Life’s Too Short – about a dwarf talent agency – aims to reflect the age of “so-called role models living their lives like open wounds to accumulate column inches”.
The mockumentary series features guest appearances from stars including Johnny Depp, Sting, Helena Bonham Carter and US comedian Steve Carrell – most likely sending themselves up as Gervais attempts to skewer the mores of modern celebrity he believes are negatively influencing younger generations.
Gervais says children today are obsessed with fame, quoting a recent university survey that asked ten-year-olds what they wanted to be: “They answered ‘famous’. Just famous.”
“I never tried to be famous,” claims Gervais. “I was willing to be the centre of attention in a small group of friends for saying something funny. Even interesting. I wanted to be the funniest person in the room, not the most famous.”
And Gervais suggests British attitudes to real achievement are partly to blame for young people’s desire for fame: “I never really thought about even having a career… Being a working-class Brit I believed it was better to never try than to try, and run the risk of failing.
“Americans are brought up to believe they can be the president of the United States. British kids are told: ‘Don’t be stupid. It won’t happen for you’.”
Read the full Ricky Gervais column in the new issue of Radio Times, where he discusses his addiction to hard work, how it’s never too late to achieve and what he thinks about his earnings. There’s also an interview with Gervais’s Life’s Too Short co-star, Warwick Davis.
Life’s Too Short starts on Thursday 10 November at 9:30pm on BBC2