Ricky Gervais is back, and it has nothing to do with the Golden Globes or torturing his friend Karl (for the most part, anyway).
The creator of The Office and Extras is returning with a new series called Derek, in which he plays a slow-but-sweet nursing home employee named Derek Noakes. Joining him in the show is his best friend (and the put-upon star of their reality series, An Idiot Abroad) Karl Pilkington, who plays another employee of the old age home.
Derek premiered as a special last spring and was picked up to series by Channel 4 in the UK after a successful showing. In the fall, Netflix announced it would host the show for American viewers.
Criticism of the show sprouted up before its first airing, as some disabled advocates said that Gervais was mocking the mentally ill with the character, who appears to be less than fully mentally capable or cognizant of social norms. The writer-actor, however, brushed the controversy aside.
"Derek is a fictional character and is defined by his creator. Me," he said in an interview ahead of the show. "If I say I don't mean him to be disabled then that’s it. A fictional doctor can't come along and prove me wrong. He's different. But then so are a lot of people. He's not the smartest tool in the box but he's cleverer than Father Dougal, and not as different as Mr. Bean. He's based on those people you meet who are on the margins of society. Nerds, loners, under achievers."