Derek, the title character played by Ricky Gervais in “The Office” creator’s newest series, is a 49-year-old man who works in a home for the elderly, hunts autographs in his spare time with his friend Kev (David Earl) and is naive, simple and possibly mentally disabled. When the pilot for the dramedy aired in the UK on April 12th of this year, some accused the show of making fun of disabled people, leading Gervais to defend his work by saying of the character that he “never considered him disabled” but instead thought of him as a “funny little nerd.”
He’s cleverer than Father Dougal in Father Ted. He’s not as weird as Mr Bean, he’s more aware than Baldrick… 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.
“Derek” was commissed for six more episodes to air in Britain in early 2013, while in the US it looks like the series will premiere on what’s becoming a home for things judged too difficult for network broadcast — Netflix. The New York Times reports that streaming site has picked up the rights to “Derek” and will be offering it sometime next year after its run on Channel 4 in Britain.
According to Gervais’ in the Netflix announcement:
Netflix is the future. TV habits have already changed drastically over the last 10 years and this is the next phase. People want their favorite shows on demand whether they are homegrown or not. As an artist you want the fruits of your labor to be seen by the largest number of people possible without having to compromise the product. This deal gave me the freedom and the huge potential viewers of the Internet but the production values of film and TV. They also made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. Come on, an artist gotta eat man.
Gervais is no stranger to uncomfortable comedy — “The Office,” “Extras,” “The Ricky Gervais Show” and “Life’s Too Short” have all been varying degrees of squirm-inducing, and “Derek” looks primed to offer more of the same, though Gervais does insist the series is about “kindness.” Karl Pilkington, Gervais’ guest-host/eternal victim on “The Ricky Gervais Show” and “An Idiot Abroad,” makes his acting debut in the new series.
Take a look at a promo for “Derek” from Channel 4 below.