Ricky Gervais Reveals The Story Behind Key Characters On 16th Anniversary Of 'The Office'

How Brent, Gareth and Tim came to be

Most Popular

On 9 July 2001, the pilot episode of a new sitcom aired on BBC Two. Barely promoted and starring no one you'd heard of, The Office received little fanfare and even the odd bad review.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

16 years later, it is unarguably the most successful and influential British comedy ever made, a piece of work that changed television – sure – but also the way people in this country and beyond interact with one another. And it turned one man in particular into a global star.

To mark the anniversary, Ricky Gervais took to Facebook to talk about the inspiration behind three of the show's main characters, and it makes for interesting reading for any fans of the show.

"I had David Brent as a character from about 1995 I'd say, and he is based on people I'd met throughout my adult life," Gervais wrote.

"The very first scene of the series, where he is talking to the forklift truck driver, is based on an interview I had at a temp agency when I was 17, in the school holidays. He was in his mid thirties wearing a bad suit. His opening sentence was, 'I don't give sh—y jobs'; I just looked at him and nodded.

"He said 'If a good guy comes to me,' (he pointed at me to let me know he already knew I was a good guy), 'and says I wanna work hard because I wanna better myself, then I will make that happen.' He phoned his friend and at one point said, 'Yes of course he's 18'; then he winked at me and did the Pinocchio nose mime. (It was nothing to do with fork lift truck driving but it was for work in a warehouse).

"I never saw him again, but I used to do impressions of him as I told the anecdote over the years. He was the very first Brent I can remember. There have been many since."

Assistant to the regional manager was jobs worth Gareth Keenan, the lanky, pedantic bowl cut who was almost as excruciating (and recognizable) as Brent.

"Gareth is even more of a fool than Brent in many ways," Gervais wrote. "And even more immature. There's a very good reason for that.

"He's based on the kid I went to school with. I talk about him in most of my stand-up shows. He's the one who put a crab in a pint of beer on holiday, because I told him, as a joke, 'When a crab is drunk, it walks forwards.'"

Then there is Tim, the lone voice of sanity, the guy you were rooting for and they guy we all could have been and probably at some point in our working lives were.

"Tim is based on a guy I used to work with, mixed with Norm from Cheers, a little Chandler from Friends, and a touch of Oliver Hardy," Gervais said.

"Stan and Ollie feature in all my work really. The blind leading the blind. Both thinking they're with an idiot. Both right. Both struggling. And both needing each other to survive. Beautifully precarious."

You can read Gervais' piece in full over on his official Facebook page.