Following their enormous success with The Office, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant teamed up again for Extras, a BAFTA and Emmy-nominated BBC comedy following an aspiring actor working as a film extra. Each episode sees Andy sucking up to—and usually failing to impress—a real-life celebrity playing an exaggerated version of themselves.
How many seasons and episodes of Extras are there?
There are two six-episode series of Extras as well as a 90-minute Christmas special.
Who wrote Extras?
Extras was co-created, written and directed by series stars Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant.
After working in the music industry as the manager for Suede, Gervais turned to comedy, writing, and appearing on The Jim Tavaré Show. In 2000, Gervais was given his own talk show for Channel 4, the poorly-received Meet Ricky Gervais.
The following year, Gervais teamed up with Merchant to write and direct The Office. The series was an international hit, and Gervais, who played lead character David Brent, became a household name. Gervais has since gone on to develop After Life, an acclaimed dark comedy about a journalist navigating life following his wife’s passing.
Merchant once again collaborated with Gervais to create An Idiot Abroad, the docu-comedy series that follows their grumpy friend Karl Pilkington as he reluctantly travels to far-flung destinations. Merchant, also an actor and stand-up comedian, has a full trophy case: he’s the winner of an Emmy as well as multiple Golden Globes, BAFTAs and British Comedy Awards.
What is Extras about?
Gervais plays Andy Millman, an aspiring but unsuccessful actor who works as a background artist — or an extra — on film and TV sets along with his best friend, Maggie. Part of Andy’s lack of success is due to his representation: the utterly incompetent Darren Lamb (Merchant).
On each set, Andy hobnobs with the stars in order to get more screen time, but instead generally mires himself in disaster. In season two, Extras also features scenes from When the Whistle Blows, the show-within-a-show starring Andy.
Where was Extras filmed?
Extras was filmed at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire as well as on-location around Middlesex, Buckinghamshire, London and Surrey.
Who is in the cast of Extras?
Ricky Gervais stars as struggling actor and film actor Andy Millman.
Series co-creator Stephen Merchant plays Andy’s agent, Darren, who also works at Carphone Warehouse.
Ashley Jensen (Ugly Betty) plays fellow extra and Andy’s best friend, Maggie Jacobs.
EastEnders’ Shaun Williamson plays an exaggerated version of himself, referred to in Extras as “Barry off EastEnders”.
Shaun Pye (Monkey Dust) plays Andy’s nemesis, a moderately more successful extra and actor named Greg Lindley-Jones.
Shaun Pye (Getty)
Why did Extras end?
As Gervais told IGN, he ended Extras for “loads of reasons…you don’t want to hang around too long on a project. I think you start repeating yourself…I don’t want to farm it out. I don’t want to bring in outside help…the other reason is I think you just tell a story and I think I’ve told this story.”
What are the best episodes of Extras?
As Spacemancanyon says on a reddit thread devoted to the series, “The problem with Extras is I can’t decide which celebrity guest is the best!”
One fan favourite episode is “Kate Winslet”, in which Andy and his friend Maggie find themselves on the set of a World War Two film starring the Titanic actress, who turns out to have a filthy mouth.
In another popular episode, Harry Potter, aka Daniel Radcliffe, is desperate to pull a girl, hitting on every woman on set — but he’s absolutely awful at it.
What was the Extras Christmas special? (Warning: mild spoilers ahead)
The 90-minute Christmas special picks up after the end of series two, and follows a now more successful Andy as he is discovering fame — his life’s ambition — isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Like the rest of the series, the Christmas special features an array of celebrity guests including Clive Owen, George Michael, Gordon Ramsay and Jonathan Ross.
The Extras Christmas special is available on iPlayer, iTunes, NOWTV and Amazon Prime, and is also available to purchase on DVD.