“I don’t care if people like it or not. I’m happy with it, I get the final edit” -Gervais
Ricky Gervais has criticised the “six or seven journalists” who have been predicting the end of his career and launched an unlikely attack on horse-racing, which he said involved the animals being “slaughtered for fun”.
Gervais was responding to criticism of his latest TV show, Derek, a one-off comedy drama which will air on Channel 4 on Thursday evening, two days before the Grand National in Aintree.
Derek, an autograph hunter who works in a care home, a character Gervais first performed a decade ago, has been criticised ahead of its broadcast for mocking people with learning disabilities.
Gervais said he “never considered him disabled”, describing him as a “funny little nerd”. The creator of Extras and The Office added that he was “bored” by the controversy which has been generated by his latest project.
“This happens every time since the 11 O’Clock Show [on Channel 4],” he told Richard Bacon on BBC Radio 5 Live.
“Everything I do it’s just … every single week has been the end of my career if you believe six or seven journalists. It makes no difference to me or my work. I don’t care if people like it or not. I’m happy with it, I get the final edit.
“These people have got to write a blog or an article every day, they have to write about something and now and again when I do something that gives them something to write about. It’s just noise. It’s just graffiti. Most people make their own minds up, which is good.”
He added: “I don’t care. I’d rather people liked it but I want them to see it to make their own minds up.
“I’m offended by many things. It’s nothing to do with right or wrong, it’s just my personal opinion.”
Asked by Bacon, who was broadcasting from Aintree as part of the BBC’s build-up to Saturday’s Grand National, what offended him, Gervais said: “Well you’re at Aintree, I don’t think that people should make horses jump over things being whipped and when they injure themselves they are put down because they are not worth having around because of economic reasons.
“Basically a beautiful majestic beast that took 2 billion years to evolve has just been slaughtered for fun. But I don’t go to Aintree, that’s how I do it.
“The only valid form of any sort of censorship of ideas in art is the right of people not to listen. We are all different.”
Gervais, whose last sitcom was BBC2’s Life’s Too Short, said his new show featured “flawed characters”. “They have all got problems, it’s a bunch of autograph hunters who help out in a nursing home. It’s ordinary people with real problems, not champagne problems,” he added.
He said celebrity cameos – a feature of his last two TV projects – were dropped from Derek for time reasons. It had to be cut from 30 minutes to 24 minutes to air on Channel 4.
Gervais described his creation Derek as a “little bit weird, not the brightest tool in the bunch”.
“He’s cleverer than Father Dougal in Father Ted. He’s not as weird as Mr Bean, he’s more aware than Baldrick,” he said. “It’s crazy, just make your own minds up. He’s got a little hobby on the margins of society, they are a little bit different which I have liked to celebrate. I never shy away from that.”
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