13 ds 0 Ric Ges

1 He was born on 25 June 1961 in Reading, to parents Jerry, a French Canadian building labourer, and housewife Eva.

2 He attended Ashmead School. now called Tharnesbridge College. in Reading and grew up in the suburb of Whitley. He graduated with a 2:1 in philosophy from University College. London.

3 A youthful Gervais fronted a new romantic electropop band called Seona Dancing. They reached the heady heights of number 1 17 and 70 in the charts with their two top selling singles. They were also very big in the Philippines, apparently.

4 Seona Dancing was only the first in a long line of dalliances with pop music. He was very briefly involved in managing an embryonic version of Suede but gave up as he didn't think they showed much promise.

5 In 1997 he got the job as ‘head of speech’ for London radio station Xfm. He then went on to take a regular Saturday show with The Office co-writer/director Stephen Merchant.

6 He replaced Ali G in his slot on The 1 7 O'clock Show.

7 He first appeared in The List back in 2000 when he was dressing up as a female tennis player (a la that Athena poster) to promote his disastrous pre-Office Channel 4 chat show Meet Ricky Gervais, which involved him being generally obnoxious and ritually humiliating ‘celebs’ like Michael Winner, Jimmy Savile and the big bloke off Ground Force.

8 He turned up again in August 2001 when he came to the Edinburgh Festival with a stand-up team called Rubbernecker in which he starred alongside Stephen Merchant and Jimmy Carr.

9 The pilot for The Office cost just £90,000 to produce.

10 When it first screened on 8802 in the Summer of 2001 The Office attracted only 1 . t in

viewers. By the time the Christmas specials were screened last December they were watched by 6.5m.

1 1 Although he insisted that The Office Christmas specials would be the last we would ever see of David Brent, Gervais made a series of instructional IT videos for the Reading offices of Microsoft in December 2003.

12 The DVD of the first series of The Office is now the biggest selling DVD of a TV series in the UK ever.

13 He declined an offer to appear on The Simpsons as they wouldn’t let him play himself. He also acted as a consultant on the US version of The Office but refused to star himself. He has, however, made a cameo appearance on spy series Alias.

20 THE LIST l~15 Apr 2004

It takes balls to abandon a genius comic TV creation like David Brent, especially as successful reinvention isn’t always guaranteed. Here we look at some of those who have tried and rate the extent of their successes.

g: I Nigel Planer as Hell Following Ringo Starr down the path of voicing children’s animation with the new Magic Roundabout wasn't enough. Planer will only be remembered with a ‘Hole in his Shoe' as The Young Ones’ hangdog hippie Neil. Reinvention rating 32%

I Caroline Aherne as Mrs Merton Dressing up as a pensioner and being unintentionally rude to minor celebs is a real gift of an idea but Aherne resisted continually exploiting the aged and went on to create something even better: The Roy/e Family. Reinvention rating 94%

I Ardal O’Hanlon as Father Dougal Despite being a commendable stand-up and author of one highly readable novel, attempts to leave the clergy behind have eluded him. With dross like My Hero the sitcom in which he plays a supremely unfunny superhero on his CV. no wonder we'd be best to remember him in a dog collar forever. Reinvention rating 22%

I Tony Robinson as Baldrick Robinson's resurrection was as cunning as one of Balder's cunning plans: he side- stepped comedy completely and indulged his love of all things ancient as the face of Channel 4’s archaeology series Time Team. Reinvention rating 83%

I Gregor Fisher as Rab c Nesbitt Govan's most celebrated export since Alex Ferguson, Nesbitt endured on our screens for eight series but afterwards Fisher just couldn't escape the bandaged head. string vest and rolled up copy of The

.r Record. He's a bad boy for life. Reinvention rating 18%

I David Jason as Del Boy Trotter As if being the voice of Dangermouse was not proof enough of his diversity. Jason left Foo/s and Horses to grow a crap ‘tache and become cantankerous 'tech Inspector 1 Frost. Still a comic at heart. though. Reinvention rating 71%

. I John Cleese as Basil Fawlty After

the ego wrangles in Monty Python caused

it to expire. Cleese was first off the block

.. , A flying solo. The comic genius of Basil is

undeniable, but rather than moving on

': I Cleese appeared to actively perpetuate . the role. and he has played the same

character everywhere. ever since. Reinvention rating 9%

I Arabella Weir as the ‘does my

bum look big in this?’ woman From The Fast Show. the show that launched a ., thousand catchphrases. comes a woman " who built an empire from just one. Her book of the same name sealed her fate as a woman with little more than a set of quote marks and a fat arse. Reinvention rating 33%