What is it about David Brent that keeps us wanting more? Well, Ricky Gervais has just finished his first draft of Life on the Road – a mockumentary style film that will see The Office star make a last-ditch attempt to become a rock star – so has taken a trip down memory lane.
While Gervais hasn’t ever really put the character to bed (Brent’s cameoed in the US office, appeared in Comic Relief specials, taught people to play guitar, toured…) it’s been twelve years since Gervais has done an extended stint with the chilled out entertainer.
From Brent’s vulnerability to his constant need for fame, Ricky Gervais explains the motivations behind the beloved middle manager and why viewers identify with him…
“David Brent doesn’t represent evil, or nastiness or even ignorance. He’s just a little out of place. Out of time. His worst crime is that he confused respect with popularity. He wanted both but concentrated on the wrong one.”
“He wasn’t a bad man. In fact, he was quite a nice man and I have a real affection for him. I like all my characters I play or create, to be honest… It doesn’t mean he has to be perfect or squeaky-clean, but he must have his foibles planted somewhere in humanity. And at some level he has to be vulnerable. David Brent certainly had that; insecure, eager to please, and needing constant positive feedback.”
“The Office, like many other sitcoms before it, finds humour in a dysfunctional family. The reason why we find this both funny and comforting is that we all belong to a dysfunctional family. If you don’t, there’s something wrong with you.”
“Men as boys and women as adults was a recurring theme. This is funny because it’s true. Men don’t really grow up. And a man who is meant to be in charge and a role model acting like a big kid is even more ridiculous. This is why it was important to always keep Brent in the work environment. He should know better. If he’s on holiday or at home he can do what he wants. But when he’s meant to be leading by example and he acts like a twat, it’s pathetic.”
“The fake documentary element was absolutely essential. It reminded us why everyone was acting the way they did. It heightened consequences, and above all, it made the audience connect. Brent being embarrassed is one thing, but as soon as he looked down the lens he brought us all into it.”
“Who needs winners?” Gervais concludes. “They’re not the slightest bit funny or interesting. Give me a loser any day.”
Filming is set to take place for Life on the Road later this year