Thursday, 10 April 2014

Derek 2

photo  @rickygervais

As I’m reviewing a new show by Ricky Gervais permit me to get the following paragraphs out of the way, then those who seek negative appraisals may be satiated and move on and those who don’t will understand the peril inherent in a review of his work that is positive.

“Ricky Gervais the aggressively atheist, controversial, shock comic, who attacks at will, leaves no hateful stone unturned, no minority group in peace and no celebrity un-shamed has done it again. But this time he’s come for “the disableds”. We know he's answered that question here but we're determined.


“This man is no ordinary man, he gave us The Office then sought to destroy our confidence and his reputation by not giving us The Office again. If he had continued to give us The Office again for the subsequent decade of his career we would have complained bitterly that he was unable to be original but he didn’t so we can’t.”


“Let us closely examine his mind because we want to and his choices because we must and let us find both the man and anyone who enjoys his work pathologically lacking in compassion, emotional intelligence and discernment.
Whilst there is a Ricky Gervais we can’t be Ricky Gervais and the level within entertainment to which he has risen, serves as a reminder of our own position and life choices; we’re not happy with that fact at all.
Publicly sharing our negative opinions is an activity that keeps us bathed in a warm glow of comfort. LoL”

Hope that helps.

Derek 2 begins as series 1 ended, with the focus on the relationships of the residents and workers at Broadhill Retirement Home.

Derek’s father, Anthony, underplayed very nicely by Tony Rohr, has moved in and the addition of the  excellent Colin Hoult, as a truculent new care worker, prompts one character to move on.

I can’t give plot spoilers by revealing who it is because this is the internet and I’d have to leave, but it’s not Tim or Dawn, they’re in a show called The Office.

Young care worker Vicky, is fulltime now and her character, once again beautifully realised by Hollie Dempsey, has the naturalness and lightness in performance which is the hallmark of all Gervais’s projects in terms of casting. We see that worse people than Kev do exist in the brief but highly memorable appearance of the shapeless, shambling form of his brother Cliff.

There is more light shone on Hannah’s relationship with Tom and Kerry Godliman is excellent again. Brett Goldstein comfortably demonstrates his ability as a comic and serious actor, as the couple traverse a fraught path emotionally. 

photo @rickygervais

Due to more transitions, the burgeoning bromance, between Derek and Kev, gives some wonderful moments of physical comedy. There is more range and scope for this to be explored in Series 2. We know them and trust them now.

David Earl reinforces the view that no one "plays disgusting" quite like him and continues to move skillfully between comedy and pathos without diminishing our engagement with his performance in either respect. 

The central themes established in Series 1 remain intact and elaborated on in Derek 2.

This is a show of self contained fables, of modern naturalistic fairytales weaved into every episode.  The women are lionesses kind, caring and fearlessly protective and this is a notable and familiar facet of Gervais’s writing.

All his women characters are stand-alone characters, human, truthful and real who never serve simply as a conduit to the storyline of the male leads.

Gervais as ever disappears into the character of Derek and again it’s an extraordinary, lovely performance.

A man regarded as acerbic, cynical and knowing; an A lister who is friends with most household names and possessed of more swagger than a Gallagher brother on Red Bull, disappears so completely into character, not caricature, in a gentle way which details the love he has for Derek.

Most importantly Gervais has a definite appreciation of the value in crafting stories from the truth and a very welcome and sadly uncommon, understanding of the value of vulnerable people’s lives.

I watched the whole series from start to finish in a single night. 

I love this time between watching it and others watching it, because as much as I know it will be loved and hugely enjoyed, I also know that some, whose job it is to give their opinions for money, will rip and tear at the show in the way they always do.

But I feel a great sadness too.  There is almost an OCD-esque need from some to denigrate anything he does which some critics who formed an entrenched opinion about Ricky Gervais’s work a decade ago, would do well to move on from. 

It imbues their writing and is nakedly dull.

Derek is a show, which requires you to suspend cynicism in order to enjoy it.
It doesn’t insult your sensibilities, it unashamedly invites you to view genuine compassion and lasting love as greater achievements than material wealth and knowing sophistication.

It is, I feel a tribute to Gervais and by Gervais to those who he cares for.  To his parents, his brothers and sisters, to his family who’ve worked in the care service for years and to bestselling novelist Jane Fallon, his partner of more than thirty years and the perfect muse for his depiction of Hannah, in my opinion. 

photo @rickygervais

In essence the show is funny and kind and intelligent and warm hearted, the characters unaffected by the cynical world outside, open to challenge, clear about what’s important and asking for nothing more than an open mind. 

Just like Ricky Gervais.

Derek returns to C4 on 10pm on  23rd April and to Netflix on 30th May


  1. Nicely put Nicky. I loved the first series so am very much looking forward to series 2. I am in no way jealous you got to see it before me ;)

  2. This is beautifully written. Derek as a show really helps you see the world clearly I think, very eye opening! #kindnessismagic

  3. This is a beautifully written article that sees what Derek is really about. I was scared when I first saw Derek 1 Episode 1 - knowing Ricky's strange way of seeing the world, my first reaction was that it wasn't going to be good. How wrong I was. I found the series wonderfully written; the characters beautifully revealed in very clever ways, and the story lines just so well told with great pathos, respectful humour and biting honesty. My big moment was when the old lady whose husband came to see her every day and just sat with her, with no communication apart from holding hands, finally died. One comment was that "that was his life" or similar - and I saw my dear old dad, as my mum slowly faded away in a nursing home - that was what he did. It was so real and I just burst into tears as I saw it, as all I could see was dad! I can't say enough to express my admiration for Ricky's writing - I just hope Series 2 is as good!!

  4. As an Ugly American, I have trouble with the accents, but I will persevere (perhaps with subtitles) because it is a wonderful show. Great review!

  5. Lovely review, really looking forward to the second series of "Derek".

  6. Agree totally. Ricky is a cheeky yet genius little working class scamp. He makes us proud. Cheers.

  7. Lovely review, really looking forward to the second series of "Derek".

  8. Obviously, the character who moves on is Dougie as nothing was said about how his character develops in Derek 2. Thanks for the spoiler. I'm crushed. I loves Dougie.

  9. Great review and well deserved. Can't wait for series 2.

  10. Beautifully written article, thank you. Can't wait to watch.

  11. A lovely review without giving away too much about the plot. I think those reviewers who have or are going to shred Derek to pieces are heartless and could do with some caring therapy themselves.
    Derek is a departure from the narky sort of work Gervais has is more well known for and Gervais should go down history for this epic tragicomedy.

  12. Great review! Loved the first series. U was reluctant to watch at first thinkingg Ricky had possibly gone a bit too far. And It would be a usual caricature of a disabled person like other t.v shows before in regards to the way we laugh at the expense of the characters disabilities similiar to the way we are supposed to find overweight or gay people funny! But I was so wrong in many ways! It is a beautiful portrait of people that unless you work in that environment are mostly forgotten about. No family to visit them, councils closing down homes and care centres to save money, with no regards for the residents feelings or needs. I hope that in the future more volunteers etc take some time out there day to visit the elderly and disabled. Help the homeless and less fortunate than themselves. I am looking forward to series 2 and I am sure I will shed a tear as much as I will laugh!

  13. I can't wait to watch. I loved series 1 and felt that those who riled against it simply hadn't watched it. I was left in tears many times, at how sensitively Derek was portrayed. Thank you.