Today Ricky Gervais phoned me to explain his use of the word "mong" on Twitter.
He didn't have to or answer any of the questions I subsequently asked him on Twitter.
Here is the "Twinterview" The 140 character limit explains the short replies.
Ricky Gervais-A very public thank you for your kind, rational and understanding words in private.
NC-Thank you for getting in touch. Do you mind if I ask you a couple of things? Nik
Ricky Gervais-Ask away.
NC-I now understand that you didn't and wouldn't intentionally hurt anyone. Do you understand why people got upset by it ?
Ricky Gervais-I do now. Never dreamed that idiots still use that word aimed at people with Down's Syndrome. Still find it hard to believe
NC-How has the response to your use of it online and in the press made you feel ?
Ricky Gervais-A mixture of confusion, anger, terror and disappointment. But mostly naive. Never meant the word like that and never word.
NC-Some of your followers have attacked people like me for criticising you over this do you condone this behaviour?
Ricky Gervais-Definitely not - reason I contacted you to be honest. The hate mail I had was psychotic and wouldn't wish that on anyone.
Ricky Gervais-What do you think of how the press have portrayed me, out of interest?
NC-I think that had I not spoken to you,I would have believed that you were a bully.The tweets seemed out of step with your work
Ricky Gervais-Cheers. Understandable Using that word to mean DS WOULD be bullying. I'm glad people now realise I'm an idiot instead. Ha ha
NC-Many people have been confused by your tweets to anyone who has been hurt by them what would you say?
Ricky Gervais-Well all I can do is apologise and hope they don't confuse those people's views with mine. (meeting now back in an hour)
Ricky Gervais-This is better than Frost and Nixon by the way. Speak later
Ricky Gervais-And we're back. (Sweaty, but raring to go)
NC-hello again.Aside from the words you were using you also posted photo's pulling faces.Was that supposed to be someone disabled?
Ricky Gervais-No. The point is to look as hideous as possible without the use of props. Not a great art form I'll admit. Ha ha
Ricky Gervais-Interestingly chat shows and newspapers have shown them many times. but comedy is about timing I guess. Whoops.
NC-You have adopted a new word in place of your old one people might worry that it's similar to mongol.How do you respond?
Ricky Gervais-Yes it seems even a brand new made up word with no history can cause offence. I wanted to show that a word needs intent.
NC-I've seen the youtube clips of your character Derek Noakes. Is he supposed to be a man with a learning disability?
Ricky Gervais-Hello sorry. Long bath watching "Pointless" Can I answer this question on email then you can post it? I don't know how. Ha
Ricky Gervais-Can't do it in 140 characters. Writing now
|Image-Ricky Gervis in "Derek" photograph: C4|
"I've never thought of Derek as disabled per se. Definitely nothing specific. Not Down's Syndrome, Autistic or someone with mental health problems.
He's certainly "different". But when does a bit weird become an official disability? it's ambiguous and he's certainly an outsider. He's based on some of the strange people that collect autographs or train spot (Oh dear now I'm really in trouble) but not in a sneery way. I love Derek. He's funny, happy, empowered and absolutely charming.
I guess I've crossed a nerd with a child.
i think in the present climate people will assume this has to be cruel because he's not the "smartest tool in the box" but it's not at all. We could go back and question many comedy characters. What's Mr Bean for christ sake? DP Gumby? Everyone in The League of Gentleman? They're "weird" sure but "weird" people can't help who they are any more than any one with any form of learning disabilities."