Ricky Gervais says 'cancel culture' means The Office wouldn't get made today

Ricky Gervais as David Brent in The Office.
Ricky Gervais as David Brent in The Office. Photo credit: BBC

Ricky Gervais wouldn't make his hit TV comedy The Office today, he says, claiming BBC bosses would be too scared of "outrage mobs" to air it.

The Office ran from 2001 to 2003, spawning its own hit US spin-off and a 2016 movie, Life on the Road.

However, Gervais says that much of the show's comedy, which was based around his character, bumbling executive David Brent's insensitivity and obnoxiousness, would be lost today as people would take the jokes literally and be offended.

"Now it would suffer because people would take things literally," the funnyman tells Britain's Times Radio.

"There are these outrage mobs who take things out of context.

"This was a show about everything - it was about difference, it was about sex, race, all the things that people fear to even be discussed or talked about now, in case they say the wrong thing and they are cancelled."

In fact, he doubts he would even be given the chance to make the comedy in today's climate, as BBC chiefs wouldn't have the courage to air it.

"The BBC have got more and more careful, people want to keep their jobs, so would worry about some of the subjects and jokes, even though they were clearly ironic and we were laughing at this buffoon being uncomfortable around difference. I think if this was put out now, some people have lost their sense of irony and context," he muses.

Gervais has himself come under fire in recent years for his close-to-the-bone sense of humour on social media - but says he can justify every joke he makes.

"I genuinely think I don't do anything that deserves to be cancelled," he adds. "Some people now don't care about the argument or the issue, they just want to own someone, they want to win the argument. There's no nuance or discussion any more, it's just fallen into two tribes of people screaming."

The stars' comments come after 150 leading authors and thinkers, including JK Rowling and Salman Rushdie, signed a letter condemning "cancel culture" for stifling freedom of thought.

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