Merchant helped create, write and direct the original British version of "The Office" as well as "Extras" -- he also appeared in both. Alongside Gervais and Karl Pilkington, he co-hosts the audio and animated series "The Ricky Gervais Show." "Hello Ladies," which Merchant scripted with "Bad Teacher" writers Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky, will be his first TV lead role, and sounds like it's in the same vein of embarrassment comedy that he and Gervais have embraced in their earlier work.
In the show, Merchant will play "a gawky Englishman searching for the woman of his dreams in Los Angeles. Half as charming as he thinks he is -- and twice as desperate -- he’s obsessed with infiltrating the glamorous world of beautiful people. Unfortunately the beautiful people won’t let him in."
"The Ricky Gervais Show" just finished its third season run on HBO -- the network's also been the US home to the showbiz satires "Extras" and "Life's Too Short," which Gervais and Mershant co-created with star Warwick Davis.
Here's Merchant performing excerpts from his 2011 "Hello Ladies" UK stand-up tour, material from which is the basis for the series.