The Ricky Gervais Show started life as a radio show on UK station XFM. Dreamed up by The Office creators Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, with help from sidekick Karl Pilkington, the threesome were soon offered a 12-week podcast series that gained a huge following: with eight million downloads, it was awarded a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the most downloaded podcast ever. The big bosses at HBO seized the opportunity to bring it to life with a bunch of animated characters, and now it’s back for a second series.
Is it exciting launching a new series of The Ricky Gervais Show?
Ricky: We’re always excited because it’s moved. We’re probably more proud of this than the first series. With the first series, we were careful, because we knew the original podcasts had been downloaded millions of times, and we didn’t want [the animators] to ruin what we had. We didn’t want them to try to add to the comedy and fail, or take away from it. But they get it more and more as you work with them, and now we’ve hit the ground running. It’s much better now. They’ve really pushed the boundaries.
Karl: I worry more. The second series is better and everything, but when we recorded all this, the cartoon wasn’t even an idea. So I’m talking about stuff like my Auntie Nora having wind for five minutes, thinking: She’s not going to hear this, she hasn’t got a computer. Now suddenly it’s on the telly! That worries me, because I’m thinking: What have I talked about?
Ricky: He’s terrified! You get a few phone calls now and again, don’t you, Karl?
Steve: Had you known it was going to be animated, would you have got Clive Owen’s name right?
Karl: There’s some things I wouldn’t have talked about. But I can’t get excited about the money yet, because we never see it. Ricky: I keep explaining to him. We own this product, so it goes in the pot.
Karl: This pot gets talked about a lot! It’s like something from Raiders of the Lost Ark that you can never get to. I don’t know how much is in the pot.
Ricky: He asked if they could take a photo of the pot!
Did you get a chance to pitch Karl’s film to Clive Owen when you worked with him on Extras?
Ricky: Well, it hadn’t happened then. I think we recorded this after.
Steve: We should send it to him and get his response.
Ricky: He’d love it, wouldn’t he?
Steve: I don’t want to give anything away, but we’ve just recorded a podcast for Comic Relief, and Karl’s got a new movie idea.
Ricky: It’s amazing, because now he’s got a bit cocky. He thinks he could get this one made. It’s phenomenal.
Steve: It’s extraordinary. It has an even bigger star in it, but let’s be honest, not too dissimilar a plot.
Karl, do you find that people now approach you in the street?
Karl: They don’t come up, they yell at me. It’s normally blokes in vans.
Ricky: We’ve got a new demographic since [Karl’s travel show] An Idiot Abroad. We went to the Ivy and as we came out, there were these paparazzi. Karl got in the car and they all went; ‘Is that the idiot?’ That was my best day ever! That’s my dream come true!
Steve: I had a text message from Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. He’d been watching the show and he said, ‘You, Ricky and the bald bloke are hilarious.’ He didn’t even make an effort to learn Karl’s name. He’s a busy man.
Ricky: Another time, I was in Rodeo Drive. This tour bus stopped and they recognised me. The bus driver wound down his window and said, ‘Karl Pilkington’s got a head like a f****** orange’! Honestly, this is a dream come true for me.
What is the future for The Ricky Gervais Show?
Ricky: Unlike every other project myself and Steve have done, we don’t see this as two series and a special. This can run and run. It’s nice as well, because like The Office, it’s already going a bit global, which is very exciting. It’s not about how big it gets or how much money it makes, it’s just sort of nice to see it pop up around the world. It’s still quite a buzz when you’re going out in all these different countries.
Steve, what can you tell us about your new stand-up tour?
Steve: I used to do stand-up comedy a long time ago, so I’ve gone back to it. I’ve just been out there, working on it when I get a free moment. I think it should be pretty good. It’s called ‘Hello Ladies’, so you know what to expect! I’m loath to spend too much time talking about it, because Karl will get annoyed if we’re not talking about anything he’s involved with.
Karl: I feel like a spare part, when people are going, ‘Oh Ricky, you’ve lost weight! What’s your gig about? What film are you doing?’ I’m like the drummer in Bros.
Ricky: The drummer is probably the richest out of all of them.
Steve: I believe he’s now the manager of Pink.
The Ricky Gervais Show season 2 debuts on April 21 at 10pm on OSN