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Gervais lands a Channel 4 series of Derek

Ricky Gervais had some good news when Channel 4 revealed they would be commissioning a full series of the comic’s comedy-drama Derek. The pilot received encouraging viewing figures of over 3 million when it was screened in April. Gervais plays the title character, care-home worker Derek Noakes, an innocent who enjoys collecting autographs and looking after people.

"David Brent was an egotistical, failed musician and the most annoying man in the world," Gervais said. "Derek is a 50-year-old man with bad hair and clothes, whose best friend is a whingeing, bald Manc twonk. Where do I get my ideas from?"

Channel 4’s head of comedy, Shane Allen, was enthusiastic. "Ricky is a leading voice in British comedy and through Derek he captures and reflects something of the spirit of modern society," he said. "It feels like a perfect new sirection for Ricky. The pilot triggered an amazing response and Derek's story had only just begun so it's brilliant that we can explore this world and its beautifully drawn characters across a series."

There was some criticism that Gervais was mocking people with learning difficulties, although Gervais vigorously resisted the accusations. "It makes no difference to me or my work," he said. "I don't care if people like it or not. I'm happy with it."

The success of Derek comes at a time when the BBC is debating whether to commission another series of Life’s Too Short, Gervais’s mock-documentary about a celebrity dwarf, played by Warwick Davis, which also attracted considerable criticism.

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