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Gervais reflects on how low TV has gone

Press AssociationPress Association 15/08/2016 Laura Harding

Ricky Gervais says his David Brent character is "not so bad" compared with the "ruthless D-listers" competing on Celebrity Big Brother.

Gervais shot to fame playing the office manager 15 years ago on the BBC mockumentary The Office, but the actor, writer and director says the nature of fame is very different now.

His new film David Brent: Life On The Road catches up with Brent, who is now a travelling salesman for a cleaning and ladies' personal hygiene products company.

However, Brent has not given up on his dream of making it as a rock star and is about to embark on a self-financed UK tour with his resentful band Foregone Conclusion, who are just in it for the money.

"The important thing about this film is, the world has changed. Back in the day he (Brent) was on one of those quaint docusoaps where an ordinary person got their 15 minutes and that was it, but nowadays fame is more ruthless, it's more insatiable," Gervais, 55, told the Press Association.

"People live their life like an open wound. They do anything to be famous, and he can't compete with that.

"There is a whole new breed of people that go on Celebrity Big Brother and they do terrible things and they are rewarded for it.

"It's an unwritten contract with the program-makers, they promise they will do terrible things and the program-makers go 'OK, as long as you do terrible things we will let you on the show and you can get another book deal or whatever'.

"That is what it's all about now and he's out of touch and out of time and he's almost bullied now. He's the underdog, and we realise he wasn't so bad compared to today's ruthless D-lister.

"I watch Celebrity Big Brother and think: 'This is like a zoo', they are just running around rutting. 'You're on telly mate, what are you doing?' David Attenborough should film Big Brother."

Gervais said television had changed greatly since he made The Office, adding: "Even real documentary is more intrusive these days. You wouldn't have heard about (Brent's) breakdown in The Office because they were politer times, but now it's: 'We will do a documentary but you had better go to your lowest ebb for us, you had better break down on camera'."

Asked if he thought it had become a crueller medium, he said: "It's more demanding. I don't know if TV is crueller but it's a vicious circle because if people didn't watch it, they wouldn't make it. We are all guilty. We watch Big Brother.

"I don't watch Big Brother to see 12 people get along quietly, why would I do that? There is something in us that does want drama, but it is like putting a red ant and a black ant in a jar and shaking it like when you're a kid, we want to see which one wins."

* David Brent: Life On The Road is released in Australian cinemas on August 25.

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