Ricky Gervais has said that his classic BBC sitcom The Office would have a harder time finding success if it were made today, saying “outrage mobs” are to blame.
Co-created by Gervais and his former collaborator Stephen Merchant, the series followed the day-to-day awkwardness of inept office manager David Brent, prone to saying inappropriate things.
In an interview with Times Radio, he explained that all of the character’s offensive remarks were “clearly ironic,” but that this context would be lost on some people in today’s world.
He said: “Now [the show] would suffer because people would take things literally… There are these outrage mobs who take things out of context.
“This was a show about everything – it was about difference, it was about sex, race, all the things that people fear to even be discussed or talked about now, in case they say the wrong thing and they are cancelled.”
It is for this reason that Gervais believes The Office might not be made if it were pitched today, saying that broadcasters have become shy about approaching such topics due to worries over potential backlash.
Gervais said: “The BBC have got more and more careful, where people just want to keep their jobs, so people would worry about some of the subjects and jokes, even though they were clearly ironic and we were laughing at this buffoon being uncomfortable around difference.
“I think if this was put out now, some people have lost their sense of irony and context.”
The former caused some controversy over Gervais’ depiction of people with mental disability, but he stands by the programme and was inspired to write it by his family who work in care.
“I genuinely think I don’t do anything that deserves to be cancelled,” he said. “Some people now don’t care about the argument or the issue, they just want to own someone, they want to win the argument.”
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