Stephen Merchant Reveals If He’d Work With Ricky Gervais Again

23 August 2018, 15:08

Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, 2010
Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, 2010. Picture: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

The comedian has responded to questions about any future projects with his old Office and Extras partner. Plus, could there be a Ricky, Steve and Karl tour?

Stephen Merchant has admitted that he’d be happy to work with Ricky Gervais and Karl Pilkington again… but it seems their radio show and podcast days are over.

Speaking at the Oxford Union, the co-writer of The Office and Extras revealed that “There’s no reason not to” work with his old team again, but that he feels that he and Gervais have gone in “different directions, creatively”.

Merchant explained: “If the right idea was there, it’d be good to do something. But at the moment, there’s nothing on the horizon.”

He explained that while he works in Los Angeles and Gervais spends time in New York and London, he added: “We worked together pretty much cheek-by-jowl for over ten years and I think it’s that feeling of being pulled in different directions creatively.”

Gervais co-wrote the hit TV sitcom The Office with Merchant, and the pair worked on the follow-up shows Extras and Life’s Too Short, while Pilkington worked with Ricky on An Idiot Abroad and Derek.

Merchant went on: “[Ricky] wants to perform in stuff he does, and I’m quite happy for neither of us to perform and to let other people perform… which is something that he’s not quite as interested in. A lot of Ricky’s humour is about him putting it across, which is why he’s so good at stand-up.

“Also, he likes to get stuff done. He’s impatient. Whereas I’ll happily spend moths, years, grinding it out.”

There have been rumours about whether the trio of Gervais, Merchant and Pilkington had had some kind of falling out, but Ricky told the NME earlier this year that “I’ve always been doing my own thing, and now they are as well. It’s not a divorce thing.”

Karl explained on Reddit in 2016: “We ain’t fallen out but I hardly ever see either of them. One of the last times I saw Ricky he farted on my head so I’m not in a rush to meet with him anytime soon.”

The rumours about a falling out intensified when it became apparent that Merchant wasn’t involved in the film David Brent: Life On The Road in 2016, but Steve seemed to quash any hopes of a return to the world of podcasting, which at one point saw the trio mastermind “the most downloaded podcast ever”.

He told the Oxford Union: “Certainly with the radio stuff and the podcasts, we did a lot of hours of that in the end. I wouldn’t want to tot them up, but we did the radio show every week, that was two or three hours at a time and we did that for quite a few years, on and off. We did a lot of the podcasts.

“That’s a lot of time, speaking in a room with each other. At some point you start to feel like you’re going over old ground.

“Even someone as rich and ‘genie-in-the-lamp’ as Karl, there’s only so many times you can go back to that well without it starting to feel like overkill.”

However, Merchant did hint at a possible reunion…

He explained: “We used to try to get Karl to do university tours, where the three of us would sit and you guys could ask him questions. But he’d never do it, he was always fearful of going out on the road.

“So that was a bit of a missed opportunity, because that would have been fun. But it’s something we could still do in the future.”