Ricky Gervais says After Life was harder to write than The Office

The award-winning writer says his Netflix series has been his most challenging project to date.

After Life season 2

Ricky Gervais has revealed that Netflix series After Life has been his toughest project to date, telling RadioTimes.com that writing the bittersweet comedy-drama proved more challenging than working on past hits like The Office and Extras.

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In an exclusive interview, the writer/star explained that After Life – in which he plays grieving widower Tony – can “go anywhere” and that its broader scope makes the scripts trickier to write.

“The ‘situation’ bit of it is vast,” Gervais said. “With The Office, it was a group of people in a place… I’d worked in an office for 10 years, I know [that]… and almost the funny thing about The Office was that nothing happens, so that was quite easy.

“And also Brent was such a strong central character, it was a man who was desperately wanting to be famous and discovered, so once you know that, it’s clear.

The Office (BBC)
The Office (BBC)

“Extras was hard, because the ambition was bigger. But again, it’s easy to explore the narcism and ego of actors and actresses. Derek was, again, quite easy – like The Office, really, a fake documentary about a load of characters in one place. So I’d say After Life [is the hardest].”

After Life recently launched its second season on Netflix, with Gervais explaining that both last year’s debut season and this year’s follow-up held their own particular challenges.

“The first season was hard because you don’t know the expectations, but it’s easier because no-one knows what to expect so they’re not judging you yet,” he said. “And season two is easier because of all the set up, and it was lovely that people wanted it, but it was worrying because of how well season one went down… so you can’t win! But it’s a nice pressure.”

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After Life season 2 is streaming now on Netflix. To watch RadioTimes.com’s full interview with Ricky Gervais, head to facebook.com/radiotimes at 7pm on Friday (1st May) for a live premiere.