« Desert Island Discs

Classic Desert Island Discs: Ricky Gervais

2019-04-07 | 🔗
Another chance to listen to the comedian, Ricky Gervais speaking to Kirsty Young in 2007. In just twelve episodes, his show The Office changed the face of British television comedy. At its centre was the comic monster, David Brent, a middle-manager being filmed for a mock-documentary who saw the ever-present cameras as his route to popularity and fame. Ricky Gervais's performance was both excruciating and unmissable - one critic called the programme "among the most affecting and invigorating works of fiction since the turn of the century". As he discusses with Kirsty Young, comedy was the language he grew up with - the youngest of four children, being able to come up with a gag or a smart rejoinder was the linguistic currency of his home. That, he says, is where the 'show-off performer' was born. Now with seven Baftas, two Golden Globes and an Emmy to his name, Ricky Gervais is gratified that his work is recognised and says his aim has always been to bring art into comedy.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Bbc sounds music. Radio, podcasts, Lauren Laverne here desert island discs is taking it's usual easter break for the next few weeks. So to keep you going until we're back on air, we'll be showcasing a few programs from our back catalogue as usual, as this is a podcast. The music has been shortened for rights reasons this week. The castaway is ricky deface, who was interviewed by kirsty young in two thousand and seven.
My customary this week is ricky surveys in just twelve episodes. His show the office changed the face of british television comedy laying waste to the traditional sitcom props of implausible characters, overblown punch lines and funny laughter tracks. In David brent, he created the perfect comedy anti hero, marooned among the concrete and photocopiers of slow, a risible company drone drowning in management, speakin self delusion His toe cunning performance, making excruciatingly compulsive viewing with seven bastards to golden globes, sell at stand up tours and now a thriving hollywood career his place in the british comedy hall of fame is guaranteed. Whether you want to be. There is enough
the question he is notably scathing about the celebrity culture of our time and uncommonly forthright in his views of fellow performers. Ricky Gervais is empathy. You've said is the very nub of human interaction. How much do you empathize with David brent? Quite a lot really, because I think we all got a little bit of 'em David brent in us. We want to be loved. We are worried about how we perceived and we vulgar in the blindspot. I think It's monstrous in david bent, but and by definition we never know about our own blindspot david Brent has become a massive cultural figure. I mean people sort have caught him and they do impersonations of it for the very few people who are we're a few years. Can you describe the character, he's middle everything, he's middle management, middle england, he's going of a mid life crisis. He's a man in free fall. I mean is worse
I suppose there is a confused popularity with respect and, as you know, the shortcut to popular is fine and there is not a bad man at all is a bit of a twig when it first the came onto our screens the office that his people weren't entirely sure, certainly at least for the first few minutes, whether it was another one of these reality shows or whether it was a comedy I mean such was its realism How did you know? I mean, presumably that had come from your own experience of working in dull, repetitive gray offices. While I worked, I worked in an office for seven years. Nervously or I was I've, always been quite a people watcher and raise. What had to be so real hyper real is the It was essential that people understood this was meant to be a documentary, because without that aspect is nothing: it's a bunch of idiots in an office where nothing happens, but if you say he's doing this to become famous it all falls into place. Everything
said it made you incredibly famous. Of course, I would guess that you started getting people shouting at you in the streets and in the David, brent, funny, dance and all of that stuff. How does that sit with you? Or do you know what people don't rarely the people, the eero approach, mere various excellent. It was more, it was more my own phobia fine than that was actually terribly it's, not that bad knockout wings, but it didn't make sense to me the worrying thing more and more is that people don't really know the difference between someone who pays naughty axe and someone who events a cure for cancer that that's the problem. Did serve via a universe. Is over recent months ten year olds, and what they want to be when you grow up and they set famous, not even a footballer, not even a model. Just just famous that'll do I think it's the shortcut they see. George cloning ago is happy in and all those things and they realize that he's happy because he does The wound he's got a body of work and he's got pride and what does- and they see-
im waiting on the red carpet, and I think I want they. They jumped straight to the red carpet waving. No, that's not the happy bit. That's him at work. Tell me about your first record, then, with a personal chosen is a bob Dylan. If you see her say hello, I remember when I was probably about ten. I've got older brothers and sisters and my sisters, not fourteen years old, the message messages. What twenty four numb my brother in law graham brought all his old records to my mom's house. I saw them whatever they're in the spare room, and I remember once I was really into biology and chemistry at this age, and this guy had done all these chemicals from his chemistry sets. And usually into Elvis and a pseudo, swap you some chemicals for the one whose office what annette I was I'm there. So I did and then he got to watch me and I woke up in the sky. That night and whence women's women a set of swaps and crimes records, and you were ok well, if you're good I went on
and ten years later I found out that he dropped more. For me they were mine but she saw an opportunity so she made. Good rye, is amazing, If you see hello She met. Tangier Z left last spring is live safer, bob Dylan and if you see her saying hello, it wasn't the infamous, Why then you grew up in it was. It was redding quite near by very close yeah. What was home, lifelike fine, the air I just found out about insist as some they were quite a lot of
yeah, my next by those eleven years older than the best worse still it really. How did they treat you then as much older? Simply when I was, I was spoil invalid, so it was a perfect balance. I suppose actor to be heard. So that's the classic show off performer in me, but it was. Was very norman. I think I'm in them. I didn't know that we were poor till I went universe in people spoke like the queen, gravel working class estate. My dad was a labour, my mom's, a housewife with part time, jobs very typical, hardworking working class families that great story till before we had the first record about your mother, saying you know using the fact that you'd given away one of the records were in fact he was coming to any mother. That just sounds like the most brilliant technique, but but she obviously had a fair idea of how to to keep. In line. She was quite strong and shit yeah. You know, I think, normalise with her said dumb god's watching you, but I was already an atheist by the age of ten. It was funny because sir I was I owe knowing is out and ice
go to sunday school and none. I believed in god. Of course, I remember once I was them doing adjoining from the bible and wipe out about the came involvement. We do understand. I'm just doing cheeseman, where you believe in god and my mom went Bob And I knew I knew he had something to tell me and she didn't want him to were. I did that's it with your mother minutiae. She had felt that it was. What view does the sunday school? Presently she was villages we're not really. I think it was some too hard working working class mother Jesus god, where am cheap baby says If I'm not watching you dial, it helps them out around the home and for you you were saying that you are fascinated by science as a wee boy. Still facts were the thing for you that that can be proven. You are quite a sensible boy will award? Yes, I wasn't abide by didn't used it in a pool frogs apart and set fire to buildings, I was cheeky I answered back so were
biggest ass? We get into trouble was acting cleverer than the teacher that was that was the high risk from but yeah I am absolutely m- was fascinated with science and nature. I was needed to university. I wanted study science. I was a case of scientists now, I was in all of the world. I was absolutely in an overload more of that in a moment. Tell me about your second record. This is a cat Stevens anyway first, our movable wasn the signify this track is often teeth into the man, and this this one lily? Why is this just beautiful,
me. Stevens and lilywhites and tell me then Ricky gervais was then a sort of family sense of humor? I mean I, I knew you didn't want to overplay the idea of sort of poverty and we didn't have much, but one of the things that combined working class families together, especially as a lot of laughs that was the most important thing outside avenue. A job in a he had to have a job done, my what europe, but you had to have a job. If you had a job, you're allowed to have a laugh that
what is all about was in a sense of competitiveness in the humor I mean. Did you always did? Did somebody always want to be the one who got the last line and year by year, respected? If you had to go, if you crumbled, you lost If you came up with a good one, it could be devastate invite late. After laugh, you know it was an engagement in the chickens afterwards and good will set the tone, for that was it. You well there. Now my father was very dry and he said you know one thing a day, but I suppose my or my next oldest brother bulb was the one that instigated most things. He was just there that's funny things. You know, there's no way wouldn't go and what about boundaries, because by between people who know it other very well. Of course you can go where people don't normally or people
Don't know is well. You know you can just take the humour to places that might be considered a bit rollo when them my mom died. We were organizing the funeral and em. My vicar said to my brother, so tell me about your mother. What was she like? and my brother just winding up the vicar said anne. She was a keen racist over requisite what I can't say that she, It went okay, then she liked gardening and then, when we were at the funeral, though, there's me my brother bob, my sister marcia and oldest brother Larry who'd come down from scotland, but my brothers played a trick on him. Because the vicar suddenly goes eva lives, leaves behind for loving children, Ricky bob marcia Barry.
Allow me just to inspect, will inspire and we're crime with laughter and the vicar thinks were crazy. That would just where their crime and crime with after that, apart from those a question about whether or not of course be use human as a reflex too, to protect us from things and we are in a funeral that you going to feel the pain of dying, but but I mean for me. I thought those very funny stories for love people, though there you straight into the bounds of absolute tasteless and disrespect, but definitely not by absolutely Definitely not because everybody is participating amanda, everyone knew what I saw momentum, we worried about what the vicar thought. I remember nothing was the Does she know where we're makin, rounded, laugh and, above all, to go? the vicars I saw. How is it that you know it was He was eighty three. If it was fifty that had been less laughter,
and that that sums up, you know it at a good life and it was exactly what they would want it. I think this stuff that you were saying about your mom mothers funeral. Do this very much a sensitive in which that reflects the idea that there is nowhere. You won't go for formulas. That is that, for you also professional dictum that where ever you say, you will make people smile. That is, where you're willing to travel for a good long. Well, yes, but you gotta, be I wouldn't do it someone else's mom's that those, I think that's the difference, I don't think there's any em to boozing in humor its whether human comes from humor comes from a good or a bad place. So context is, of course, of course, yeah tenants. You said record: this is the sex pistols and anarchy in the uk. A when never mind the pollux came out. I didn't believe it. I ran home from school and played to every single night for about six months.
Do the opening line. I am an nun Christ, I'm an anarchist. It was just the way age to get excited about this whole thing, but it stands up such a powerful song- is it that is great size. Six pissed and in the uk and memories than applying that every night you said for six months here is your face. When you go home from school, I meet you were, you are quite right a musical person. You you like the? U like guiding having a band. You formed a band year. What I am at first, I just I love music.
I started playing guitar because of cats dave. And then, when I went to university I joined banned. You would have been each than when you it was called shown a dancer here I was some say twenty agenda. When it was all over. I still twenty I've seen a little clip of a video. I mean you can the dashed in EU. That's right! Why would they people, with emphasis. Show me pictures of me when I was nineteen and the ago are now, and I think I'm embarrassed while I used to look nano, I'm embarrassed how I look now, I'm jealous Somehow I used to look. Can it depresses me? I was sick, stone lighter, had your line and credit couple of jail going on in the here to me, or sums removed some oil hair raising today's the divine. I have stood up to keep me here. Actually it was the new romantic dies, a lot of eyeliner and obviously to sound like that goodbye
and can you remember any of the lyrics from any of the songs. I just saw what flash I say you can but you're not sure you won't say them. That's exactly right! Government, no, no you're! Right! can, but I'm not going to say why not because it makes me want to crawl into a dustbin, and I noticed, chosen any sooner dancing, Phronsie s way of his neck, and rightly so. Why? Why did you leave behind your ideas of pops? Determine and musicians didn't leave behind our fire miserably and had to do something else that some people plug away for years even earlier, while I did half heartedly for a little while, but then I thought Rebekah a proper job and have a change of career in them. So I went onto the periphery of entertainment and I became finance manager. In august. I manage bands, no dabble tonight, you know still produced bits and pieces
you said. The important thing in your family was that first base was having a job secondary. It was to make jokes. So what did your parents make? The fact you, dabbling in well. That was a eyesore of I broke the rules there a little bit because I held out trying to you know chase a dream for longer than them. I probably am should have. I went home one christmas and I went oh yeah. I meant to tell you. I want to join a bandanna. We actually had just got a record deal and we got it very quickly. And she went. Rockstar is another word for junkie. I am I the advance and she went mick Jagger boy. My mouse you. Why was I really like the sound of your mother. Tell me about your next year This is a new young after the gold rush voices so fragile. It's like he is worried about what Tell you that to tell you anyway, after the war, the american, I look at mother nature on the run in the
nineteen seventies and that he just struck a chord and danes I was now base with my hours. When the sun bursts through the sky, new young and after the gold rush. So, as you said, Ricky you had been an entertainment sofa, so that was sort of that was your job. For quite some time. Yeah, probably about eighty nine to ninety seven, and this was the office work really. That was real yeah yeah. That was the the last them two or three. Yes, I was there. We moved up stairs to open an office which the office is by It's done and you've a radio station which
we went to the merchant exactly and when I left and that job is the ants manager. I'd been offered a job at the fledgling radio station Xfm and I was loud and assistant and I think Steve's cb was at the top of the pile and he wanted to be a stand up comedian. He was starting out in stand up. I suppose I thought well I'll show him one funny and I had a character called c d boss and then Wednesday went to the bbc to do it. Trainee production costs yet one day with a film crew, and he said, let's, let's film, that character and it turned out a little twenty minute. Office, and so stephen merchant, of course, is your cool creator and cool writer. He directed both series and often along with you- and I am also stars in the extra says you are useless agent. Did you, when you saw it that you had a little bit of gold dust or did they know, I knew it was different. We were low risk, it didn't cost much and in I went out in July
If the a on a monday so we're, therefore we thought was the worst that can happen. Tell me about your next piece of music, and the next struck his some radiohead bones, there's a limit. The goes I used to fly peter pan and the way sings it and the way the music source it brings to my throat cause. It's that anything to do with regret. That's all the way things were, I'm a sucker for that- and this is just something to my soul. It makes me well up as his radio item bones
radiohead and bones, and you sent the line in there Ricky's your face. That touches you most as I used to fly like Peter pan on all sides. While you seem like quite a sort of romantic soul under it all yeah we're we're we're just here for as long as we hear them I think that's. That's sad. As public as I'm an atheist. This is all we ve got so here you could enjoy it. And you better leave behind something that matters here. What I asked. I do think, though, that in our at the inner, when we know in the work, I am I conscious of the legacy. I do want this work to be as good What is it is now or never none. I do want to if something behind really There is a very high ideals on it, because a lot of people are just delighted to be working in television or films are just delighted to get paid for it. And you're ideal, see much higher than that. You determined that it's gonna be out here. I was worried about
a fat little comedian from reading even saying the word art, as that. That's how we brought up in britain isn't it that we worried about being pretty. Inches above our station- so am I If I'm being honest yeah I do I do. I think nothing wrong with putting them they are into comedy as nothing wrong with that and maybe also something of a thumb, all of them with the values that were an ingrained in you as a little boy. The the idea that if this is going to be your job and it's a bit of an odd job compared to what most people do I mean it is not what your father did. It's not going out and sweating blood everyday labored on a building site. It is in a sense, a bit of a non job there for you, you ve got to make it good to get over the guilt. Absolutely yeah: I did that what I went through a period of girl just having a nice life, you know it's not gill, its why cant everyone ample I've got that that it we always is different to go
How does it? How does that manifest itself, then that that sort of slightly shameful feeling that you are getting away with something that other people should share? That's exactly it. The I'm, getting away with something that everyone should share don't know what to do about it. Any and all have to do is no that if you're not proud of how you which then you at least you're not ashamed of it in oregon I haven't heard anyone to do this and then I remember I was offered a couple of adverts in a couple of culprits and the reason I did it was because the first one I was offered was some my dad salary for twenty minutes. And I felt go about doing- I didn't want to do it, but then I thought I felt guilty. I'm not doing it because who was I to turn down, and I did a couple. No? No, I don't want to do this, one another like it. So when I've never over it saying no, in fact, for the first the amounts, its ruined abet. I was
proud the office. Is the thing I tried hard to start in my life, and I was so, and I got ten out of ten and realize that meant not with the ending house and when the voyage ex came in it ruined a bit, it will actually I just didn't want to talk about it. I'm over now thanking the text tell me about inexpensive music. David boy probably my single biggest hear music and her. I suppose, he's known for put in the art, enter music, but what people don't realize it please written when the most beautiful love songs ever it Gold led her mind, it's just so stripped down. This is just a gorgeous.
Strong you strong for you and when you kiss it something you, but did you ever call ninety eight, just fine, I'm not quite sure what I'm supposed to do so I'll just write some love David berry and letter to her mind you, you say it is buoy and not by the cause of our lives. You ve met the man here. Major may indeed like that you will not actually friends now library, where we are now. Yes was the first time I met him. I was just soon after the office broke.
I went along to see a window, some of vip concerts for radio or something, and I went along m with a girlfriend and afterward Sarah went in the green room and greg dyke than that. The head lucy bounced over and said your bow he found on you, I went yeah, I went to enemy What was it needs of just two now and I'll cover we're gonna make him an m. So me, my girlfriend gregg dyke went down to allows dressing room on the why great ice has salmon, So now you gotta be rushed data without investing their role is just remember these. It allows changes and the next day in the pub my moment. What do you do last night and I went nothing. What can I say I am hung with salman rushdie greg died. Why? What did you do in eggs? Does? Of course you eve eve used David guy. He sang little fat man who was it so the sword? then comedy notice. Z, hug knows vice
what a single long there is any sattler manfully into from you here also robert de kate winslet, I mean a host of extraordinary stars. You ve had in does about this man. Who is what we call a supporting artist? You never has anything to say onset, but he has a regular paid job as an extra. And then he does find fame now, contrasting that with the office of cosy, you worked in this office for many years, It will become increasingly difficult wanted for you to to call you video from reality, because you, your reality, becomes compromise by your fame or year. In my if you said right about what you know so am I think that the first albums easy, because it It's all your years experience and they the second albums the last year, which probably wasn't a normal year. So yes, but an extra came from
did the extras came from these. These may be extreme blushes of standing with the corner, stay and David. Just having your life changed. You know, I don't want it to sound like whinge and everyone's polite. It's not like. I go into the street and I'm bothered or or I live in the central of london, no one really bats an eyelid and it's cool, but it was creepy. You know that I think when the first bafta was creepy cause, there was press ringing muddled. Well and I thought what else I know where I live, what they care. I didn't sign that deal with the devil. I didn't call the press up I am going to be the airport. I didn't get a pr person going, there's this new comedian. I didn't do that and so on and to be fair, the press they're totally respectful. They know that they're not going to catch me. Falling China, whites with a slap amount they now? I don't do that they that this doesn't a story that tommy very inexpensive music jimmy web, now now people what nobody Jimmy web is probably no is work.
Or the hits forum, Glenn Campbell, eva macarthur park, you up in a way, and this is a version of galveston and it's absolutely beautiful, sir, a guy you leads to go to war and there's a lyric analogous some, I'm so afraid of dying before I try the tears she's crying, and now it's just lyrics like that, as his galveston. You go first I still see asked d c goes new the. The. Jimmy where and galveston. Twenty four
For years now you ve lived with your partner, Jane, I mean you met while you were both students just right. She is a successful television producer. Never writer is an extraordinary journey that she's been on with you. How does she handled it? I'm in fame under the new society and working in hollywood and all those things you do know it seems the very soul of I, it just seems very nice. To us because we know nothing's changed except our bank balance and when you step outside the door, We will. We haven't changed values or outlook or our politics or renew beliefs it? at all? I read that you like to live this way: sort of quiet, domesticated life used her it's called Colin no longer around that you are in bed by nine thirty's, all that stuff. True so over here we got a cat now called ali and am I'm in my pajamas by six pm. I do my work and I come home and I am in front of the telly and I'm watching big brother.
When our own, while working on this being on the couch with a bottle of wine watch entirely and m spoken got a new family life sounded like a very happy and vibrant one, but but you don't fancy children, that's not something you've chosen for yourself. Oh no! No! No! That, sir, you are so conscious decision, it's just those It's just those first, sixteen years they want to go through that. I worry the car gettin out. I find a baby I'd watch it all night. I couldn't sleep also, they give you anything back by is this colleges. They do nothing to tell you that your last piece of music. This is where the first war is now, for some and them it's always on my mind, and they always versions beautiful
but I never could do thou this vulnerable enough to pull this. Some off like come, let willie notion again. It's that regret is that guy's them maybe made some mistakes and now is in the twilight years and is trying to put it right there, one of all the songs nearly makes me cry every time I'm so happy little showed us that when you are, you are really no
islam and always on my mind, rich with sentimentality and regret the worst thing about that. Is it's too late to do anything about it, whoa yea! I know you can improve and get a second chance, but you can't have it back. That's the terrible thing of what the whole tone down soberness is. The sex pistols knew it. And I'll give you, the bible and the complete works of shakespeare to take onto this island. You might not want the bible. Of course. Did you like to read anyway, or the pavement become useful? Okay, you get to take a book with you. What will your book be? I dunno, so the point of it.
Albion references that so it so it is. No. It doesn't help me in any way. I ain't no is not about 'em poison plants or how to build a bow exactly so I could take a table top book of like works of art. Yes, I'll do that we allow you to a luxury to make life a little more beatable on the island. What would your luxury be? Oh she's, so difficult what about painkillers and things at lagom? Yes, you know the kind that memorial saga Let's morphine. Could I take that? Yes, I was like a vow of morphine, yes, but already care about the oil there will I, but medicines useful. Why can I take morphine and know the kind of stuff or because they are not going to cure you
if so, that only suis I mean they might kill the pain of loneliness but they're, not they're, not going to cure you of anything. Okay. I took a vat of novocaine that you may, and that was wreckage of ice. The atheist drug addict. I'm going to force you to save just one track. If you only allowed one which one would it be, I want a desert island which I'm taken into account. I think cat Stevens lily white ricky tan face. Thank you very much for letting seek a desert island discs. My pleasure you why we have listened to this region,
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Transcript generated on 2022-06-12.