|Created by||Ricky Gervais|
|Written by||Ricky Gervais|
|Directed by||Ricky Gervais|
|Opening theme||"Handbags and Gladrags" arranged by Big George|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||2|
|No. of episodes||12 (and 3 specials)|
|Running time||approx 30 minutes|
|Production||Capital United Nations Entertainment |
The Identity Company
|Original network||BBC Two |
BBC One (specials)
|Original release||9 July 2001 -|
27 December 2003
|Related shows||The Office (US series)|
The Office is a British television mockumentary sitcom first broadcast in the UK on BBC Two on 9 July 2001. Created, written, and directed by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, and produced by Ash Atalla, the programme follows the day-to-day lives of office employees in the Slough branch of the fictional Wernham Hogg paper company. Gervais also stars in the series, playing the central character David Brent.
Two six-episode series were made, along with a pair of extended Christmas specials. When it was first shown on BBC Two, ratings were relatively low, but it has since become one of the most successful of all British comedy exports. As well as being shown internationally on BBC Worldwide, channels such as BBC Prime, BBC America, and BBC Canada, the series has been sold to broadcasters in over 80 countries, including ABC1 in Australia, The Comedy Network in Canada, TVNZ in New Zealand, and the pan-Asian satellite channel STAR World, based in Hong Kong. The show was first shown in the United States on BBC America in 2003, and later on Cartoon Network's late night programming block Adult Swim from 2009 to 2012.
The show centres on themes of social clumsiness, the trivialities of human behaviour, self-importance and conceit, frustration, desperation and fame. The protagonist David Brent was influenced by Basil Fawlty (played by John Cleese) from the acclaimed BBC sitcom Fawlty Towers. The success of The Office led to a number of localised adaptations (based upon its basic story and themes) being produced for the television markets of other nations, resulting in an international Office franchise.
The show is a mockumentary based in a branch of a large paper company called Wernham Hogg (where "life is stationery"), in the Slough Trading Estate in Berkshire. Slough is a large town immortalised for its lack of appeal by John Betjeman in his poem "Slough" ("Come, friendly bombs and fall on Slough/It isn't fit for humans now..."). The office is headed by general manager David Brent (Gervais), aided by his team leader and Assistant to the Regional Manager Gareth Keenan, played by Mackenzie Crook. Much of the series' comedic success stems from Brent, who frequently makes attempts to win favour with his employees and peers with embarrassing or disastrous results. Brent's character flaws are used to comic effect, including numerous verbal gaffes, inadvertent racism and sexism, and other social faux pas.
The other main plot line of the series, and many of the more human elements found therein, come from the unassuming Tim Canterbury (Martin Freeman), whose relationship with bored receptionist Dawn Tinsley (Lucy Davis) is a major arc in the series. Their flirtation soon builds to a mutual romantic attraction, despite her engagement to dour and laddish warehouse worker Lee (Joel Beckett).
|First||Last||Series 1||Series 2||Specials|
|Ricky Gervais||David Brent||"Downsize"||"Christmas Special, Part 2"||Main|
|Martin Freeman||Tim Canterbury||Main|
|Mackenzie Crook||Gareth Keenan||Main|
|Lucy Davis||Dawn Tinsley||Main|
|Stirling Gallacher||Jennifer Taylor-Clarke||Main||Recurring||Guest|
|Oliver Chris||Ricky Howard||"Judgement"||Main||Does not appear|
|Ralph Ineson||Chris Finch||"The Quiz"||"Christmas Special, Part 2"||Main||Recurring||Guest|
|Patrick Baladi||Neil Godwin||"Merger"||Does not appear||Main||Guest|
|Stacey Roca||Rachel||"Interview"||Does not appear||Main||Does not appear|
|Elizabeth Berrington||Anne||"Christmas Special, Part 1"||"Christmas Special, Part 2"||Does not appear||Main|
David Brent is the general manager of the Slough branch of Wernham Hogg paper merchants. Insecure, and totally narcissistic, he believes he is a successful maverick in the business world and a Renaissance man, talented in philosophy, music and comedy. Although he thinks he is patient, funny and popular, others perceive him as annoying, rude and selfish. His immature behaviour comes across as he bumbles around the office - always hovering around the camera - telling unfunny jokes, performing hackneyed impressions, and generally getting into trouble by talking before thinking. Brent thinks he is a kind, politically correct man, but his preoccupation with this position, and the discrepancy between it and his often patronising (and at times offensive) jokes, gets him into trouble. His cluelessness regarding his awkwardness, his lack of empathy, his unquenchable thirst for gratification, and his ridiculous way of trying to save face are the driving comical forces of this show.
Tim Canterbury is a sales representative at Wernham Hogg. Unlike David, Tim is witty and considerate. His humour and kindness make him one of the most likeable employees in the office, but at 30 he still lives with his parents and works at a job he believes to be completely pointless. He maintains his sanity by pursuing an improbable romance with receptionist Dawn Tinsley and by playing practical jokes on Gareth. Although he wishes to leave Wernham Hogg to study psychology, his insecurity prevents him from taking any significant action. During Series One and Two, he also fails to further pursue a relationship with Dawn. Chosen as David's successor at the end of series 2, he declines and lets Gareth take the position, which, however, does not keep him from playing pranks on Gareth.
Gareth Keenan is Tim's selfish deskmate and enemy. Gareth is a humourless jobsworth with few good personality traits. He is obsessed with his military service in the Territorial Army and annoys Tim with his pretentious comments. He takes pride in being "Team Leader", not realising his title is mostly meaningless, and he imposes the little authority he has on his co-workers. He is stubborn and insensitive. Tim and Dawn repeatedly insinuate homosexuality through questioning him about his military experience using double entendres. Apparently proud of his close connections with David and glossing over David's poor treatment of him, he later - during the Christmas special - gets back at David by patronising and humiliating him in front of the cameras.
Dawn Tinsley is the company receptionist and Brent's dogsbody. She frequently has to put up with his attempts at humour and social interaction. Like her friend and co-worker Tim, she is aware of the sad state of her life - she has been in a long, rocky engagement with her fiancé Lee, a surly warehouse worker, and gave up illustrating children's books to pursue her current fruitless career. During the Christmas special, Dawn and Lee return from their illegally prolonged US vacation.
Jennifer Taylor-Clarke (Stirling Gallacher) was Brent's immediate superior in Series One. Nicknamed Camilla Parker Bowles by him, she is a serious-minded professional, and Brent's behaviour and comedy-driven style of management are shown to be puerile and ineffectual by contrast. At the end of Series One she is made a partner in the firm and, during series 2, repeatedly reprimands David for inappropriate behaviour.
Ricky Howard (Oliver Chris) was introduced as Brent's new temp in the pilot, and a recent graduate. He was prominently featured in episode three, where he and Tim form a team for trivia night. The two end up winning, successfully answering a tie-breaker question on Shakespeare against Finch. His past experiences at game shows, including winning Blockbusters, causes Finch to wind him up after beating him and Tim at "Throwing" claiming "Screw Blockbusters, Screw Bob Holness and screw your Gold Run!".
Chris Finch ("Finchy") (Ralph Ineson) is a "bloody good" outside sales representative, he is the only character in the series who is genuinely and deliberately narcissistic. He is brashly confident, openly sexist, rasping-voiced with a natural flair for bullying others with swift, humiliating putdowns, Brent being his usual target. He likes to dominate conversations and is successful with women, but shows a humourless violent attitude when he loses the staff quiz in Series One. David describes him as his "best friend" but actually acts more like a lackey, laughing at his jokes and attempting to impress him to feel popular only to be repaid with verbal abuse. Finch is such a bad loser at the quiz, he exclaims he and Brent can beat the team who beat them at many other things, so decides he can beat them at "Throwing", and if he throws anything they choose over the building, they will win the quiz and the champagne instead (which they eventually do, with Tim's shoe being the nominated object).
Neil Godwin (Patrick Baladi) is Brent's counterpart at the Swindon branch and eventually his immediate superior. He is young, charming, professional and energetic, a more competent manager than Brent, and has a better relationship with staff. Brent is hugely resentful and jealous of him, and makes occasional, often childish attempts to either undermine or rival him. He grows increasingly exasperated with Brent's incompetence, poor judgement and failure to do his job properly and is therefore instrumental in David's redundancy.
Rachel (Stacey Roca) is a bubbly and attractive co-worker who starts a relationship with Tim. After a deluded Gareth reveals his plans to seduce her, Tim is shocked when she begins to pressure him to make a greater commitment. He realises that his ongoing love for Dawn is far greater than his feelings for Rachel and breaks off the relationship.
Anne (Elizabeth Berrington): Only appearing in the Christmas special, she is Tim's pregnant desk mate. She annoys him as she speaks continuously about herself and other topics no-one else is interested in. She coldly tells David that no one is interested in his invitation to go out for a drink, causing discomfort amongst her co-workers. However, an encounter with Glynn at the office party causes her to run out of the office in tears.
Several other recurring characters, although not central to the episodes, play an important role in the series. These include:
Series 1 and 2
Series 1 only
Series 2 only
In total, there are fourteen episodes of The Office: six in each series and two 45-minute Christmas special episodes.
The show has received critical acclaim, and has been regarded as one of the greatest British sitcoms of all time. Series one currently holds a Metacritic score of 98 out of 100, based on 12 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim". Series two received similar acclaim, holding a Metacritic score of 93 out of 100, based on 16 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".The Office Christmas specials were also well received, and hold a Metacritic score of 98 out of 100, based on 19 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".The Office was named by The Telegraph as one of the 10 best TV sitcoms of all time. In 2019, the series was ranked 6th on The Guardian's list of the 100 best TV shows of the 21st century.
In 2003, The Office won the Golden Globe Award for Best Television series: Musical or Comedy. It was the first British comedy in 25 years to be nominated for a Golden Globe, and the first ever to win one. Gervais was also awarded the Golden Globe For Best Actor in a Television series: Comedy or Musical. The same year, the series won a Peabody Award.
The theme song for the show is "Handbags and Gladrags", arranged by Big George and originally written in the 1960s by Mike D'Abo, former vocalist for the pop group Manfred Mann. The song "Sitting" by Cat Stevens was also considered by Gervais and Merchant to be the theme song for the show but was later rejected.
In series 1, episode 4, a version performed by Gervais (in character as Brent) was featured over the end credits.
The first series also features Gervais performing "Free Love Freeway" and the Christmas Special includes him performing "If You Don't Know Me By Now".
|DVD Name||Region 1||Region 2||Region 4||Ep #||Additional Information|
|Series One||7 October 2003||14 October 2002||1 July 2004||6||This double disc DVD set includes all six episodes from the first series. Bonus features include the featurette How I Made The Office, deleted scenes, Wernham Hogg News, Slough slang glossary, and Wernham Hogg personnel file.|
|Series Two||20 April 2004||20 October 2003||1 July 2004||6||This one disc DVD set includes all six episodes from the second series. Bonus features include a video diary, deleted scenes, out-takes, and a Slough slang glossary.|
|Christmas Special||16 November 2004||25 October 2004||7 October 2004||2||This one disc DVD set includes both hours of the Christmas Special. Bonus features include a documentary on the making of the specials, the full uncut music video of David Brent's cover of "If You Don't Know Me by Now", a featurette on the making of "Freelove Freeway", and a Golden Globes featurette.|
|Complete Collection||16 November 2004||22 November 2005||TBA||14||This four disc DVD set includes all 12 episodes from the first and second series, and both parts of the Christmas special. Bonus features include the How I Made The Office documentary, a documentary on the making of the specials titled The Office: Closed for Business, a commentary on the second part of the Christmas special, deleted scenes, out-takes, a video diary, the full uncut music video of David Brent's cover of "If You Don't Know Me by Now", a featurette on the making of "Freelove Freeway", and a Golden Globes featurette.|
|10th Anniversary Special Edition||22 November 2011||24 October 2011||14 November 2012||14||This four disc DVD set includes all 12 episodes from the first and second series, and both parts of the Christmas special. Bonus features include the How I Made The Office documentary, a documentary on the making of the specials titled The Office: Closed for Business, a commentary on the second part of the Christmas special, deleted scenes, out-takes, a video diary, the full uncut music video of David Brent's cover of "If You Don't Know Me by Now", a featurette on the making of "Freelove Freeway", and a Golden Globes featurette. Exclusive to this box set is the never-seen-before 20-minute pre-pilot, Comedy Connections featurette, broadcast wraparounds and celebrity interviews (including Hugh Jackman, Matthew Perry, Richard Curtis and Ben Stiller).|
In addition to the original two series and two Christmas-specials, Gervais and Merchant have revived the David Brent character for a pair of specials commissioned by Microsoft UK, entitled "The Office Values" and "Realising Potential". In 2004, Microsoft UK commissioned two 20-minute corporate videos featuring Brent being interviewed by Jeff Merchant (played by Stephen Merchant), a Microsoft employee who becomes increasingly exasperated by Brent's antics. Brent is obviously resentful of the company's success. He believes he has what it takes to become the next managing director of Microsoft and continually drops hints to that effect. While not on general release, the videos emerged on the Internet in 2006. The clips also appeared on certain peer-to-peer networks. Microsoft was unhappy with the leak, stating that the videos "were never intended to be viewed by the public".
Additionally, a Comic Relief charity short was made in 2013 entitled "The Office Revisited"
In 2013 Gervais developed a series of videos, and released them on his YouTube channel entitled "Learn Guitar with David Brent".
The Brent character also featured in the 2016 film David Brent: Life on the Road, this time with the contributions of Gervais but not Merchant.