Need to know:
Small feet, comes from Reading.
Ricky Gervais’ life started at 36. At least, that’s when all the interesting stuff started.
Of course, it is not for me to judge whether or not when a man’s life becomes interesting, I can but merely not write about it here. So, back when Ricky was a student…
He was studying Biology at London University before changing to Philosophy, eventually graduating with a 2:1. At the age of 21 in 1982 he met Jane Fallon, and they are still together today.
Ricky spent seven years as an entertainment’s manager for a student’s union as well as various other office jobs. In the 1980s he was in a pop duo called Seona Dancing, and also managed Suede for a bit, although it’s definitely not for me to speculate on the coincidence of him leaving and them becoming really really famous and successful. Ricky was born in Whitley, and his family lives in Reading. And what does Ricky think of Reading? “I love The Oracle and the pedestrianisation. I think Reading is great.”
Mr. G was educated at Ashmead school, now Thamesbridge College, and according to himself was a good pupil, and didn’t go round in a gang or do any dodgy stuff. Like I said, you’ve got to skip forward for the interesting stuff.
Ricky was never interested in Drama at school, unlike Reading’s other great actor, Kenneth Branagh.
According to Ricky, the worst job he ever had was smoothing down metal table legs, during which he was criticised for working too fast. Ricky has described this man as his mentor. The best advice that he’s ever received is that “No one knows what they are doing either”.
Then came the first bit of comedy, when he failed, but at least tried, to be a stand up. At age 35, he jumped into the world of broadcasting and became a presenter at XFM, which is a London based station and plays the kind of music that’s really weird and smug people who like it laugh at you if you say you don’t. After leaving XFM, he made a few guest appearances on Mary Anne Hobbs’ Radio 1 show, and easily managed to get fired.
Then came the moment we’ve all dreamed of, when he got a job on Channel Four’s The 11 O’Clock show, then in its third series. From a personal view this was annoying as I sat through an entire couple of series just to see his bits. They were good. All too often offensive, over the top irrational bigotry of some sort, but always funny. He was also responsible for putting Reading on the map. His appearances here also made it possible for him to be well known enough to get some more money out of Britain’s dodgiest TV station by making the odd comment in 100 Greatest TV moments from hell and 100 Greatest TV ads. Most memorable thing he said from these was suggesting the Shake ‘n Vac lady was cleaning up after her suburban gangbangs. To my knowledge the makers of Shake ‘n Vac have not commented on this suggestion.
Just as it was with Ali G, Channel 4 realised Ricky was too good for Iain Lee and co, and so they gave him his own chat show, Meet Ricky Gervais. The idea here was that he’d go on about himself for a lot, and occasionally insult a guest. The show was not the greatest of successes, the best bits being the pre-recorded sections before the commercial break where Stephen Merchant played a Channel 4 executive who would force Ricky into depraved sexual acts. As yet there are no plans for a second series. Or for anyone who saw the series to ever mention it.
During 2000, Ricky also made guest appearances in such shows as Vic Reeves Examines, Comedy Cafe and as a call centre worker in one of Channel 4’s top ever shows: Spaced. Talking of Channel 4’s top ever shows, what would Celebrity Late Night Poker be without the fat man from Reading? Ricky was one of the proper celebrities here, the others all being journalists and rather unfairly some famous poker players. And Stephen Fry. For the record, Ricky went out first.
He also did some writing for ITV’s The Sketch Show, but it’s hard to know any specific sketches he wrote, and we all know the results when you stick the words ITV and comedy together.
On the radio in 2001, Ricky provided the voice for a £190,000 Government drink driving campaign. These voiceovers were quite successful as they were the only time I’ve heard Gervais be fully serious.
Then came The Office, but there’s enough about that everywhere else on the site.
Over the last few media centered years of Ricky’s life, he has managed to pick up the odd award:
- 1997 DJ for XFM
- 1998 DJ for Radio 1 FM
- 2000 British Comedy Award for Best New TV Comedy
- 2001 South Bank Comedy of the Year Award
When Ricky got the award for best new comedy series, he seemed to dedicate it to a small man in a wheelchair. It was probably the highlight of the awards that evening, and easily upstaged Jonathan Ross. The other nominations for the award were Human Remains and The Sketch Show. Mackenzie Crook was also nominated for Best Newcomer but was beaten by Johnny Vegas, whom Ricky describes as the funniest man he’s seen live.
Obviously the above mention of awards was written some time ago, and most notably The Office and Gervais’ performance have picked up Golden Globe awards since then, something of a breakthrough for a UK TV show in the United States. Apart from these, it’s easier to list the awards that the show hasn’t won. It’s been an awards magnet.
A really good interview
There are a few interviews of Ricky out there, but this one, from US radio, is one of the best, and at 25 minutes covers a lot of material. Here you go.
Hang on? 80’s pop duo!!!
Yep. Seona Dancing. Remember them?
A picture of Ricky and his partner in crime, courtesy of NoiseBoxMusic.com. Ricky here is just recognisable as the one in the foreground. From what I’ve been able to find, Seona Dancing had two songs, More to Lose, and Bitter Heart.
Not sure which one is which here. Or indeed who the other one is at all. And no, looking at the picture upside down doesn’t help in telling if it’s Ricky or not.
There are no plans to reunite the group, though Ricky has never denied this happening (he probably has). The best chance of getting your hands on some Seona Dancing records is to have a quick look on ebay. If you want to know about the early days of Seona Dancing, then this article from NME, written in 1983, tells all. Big thanks to Richard for scanning this! And if you’d like to know a little about the author of that piece, who was a mate’s of Gervais at the time of writing, and talks about shared Uni days, then have a butcher’s at this.
The Only Website Dedicated to Seona Dancing
You must go visit there….now!
One last thing…if you’re down here, you must really be interested in all thing Gervais, so have a click on each of the single covers just above, and you’ll find a little something extra. Enjoy.
Don’t ask me about this, I just don’t know: