Ricky Gervais reveals inspiration behind David Brent to mark ‘The Office’ anniversary

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The 16th anniversary of the transmission of the sitcom's first episode on BBC Two fell yesterday (July 9)

Ricky Gervais has revealed the inspiration behind his classic comedy character David Brent to mark the sixteenth anniversary of the broadcast of The Office‘s first episode on BBC Two.

Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s sitcom ran for 12 episodes and two specials between 2001 and 2003, with Gervais starring in the leading role as office middle-manager Brent.

Writing on Facebook yesterday (July 9) to mark the 16th anniversary of the transmission of The Office‘s first episode on BBC Two, Gervais revealed that the character of Brent was actually based on a number of people he’d met during the time that he’d spent working in offices in his earlier years.

“I had David Brent as a character from about 1995 I’d say, and he is based on people I’d met throughout my adult life,” Gervais wrote. “The very first scene of the series, where he is talking to the forklift truck driver, is based on an interview I had at a temp agency when I was 17, in the school holidays. He was in his mid thirties wearing a bad suit. His opening sentence was, ‘I don’t give shitty jobs’; I just looked at him and nodded.

Read more: David Brent’s best quotes – 21 of his most cringe-inducing lines from The Office

“He said ‘If a good guy comes to me,’ (he pointed at me to let me know he already knew I was a good guy), ‘and says I wanna work hard because I wanna better myself, then I will make that happen.’ He phoned his friend and at one point said, ‘Yes of course he’s 18’; then he winked at me and did the Pinocchio nose mime. (It was nothing to do with fork lift truck driving but it was for work in a warehouse).

“I never saw him again, but I used to do impressions of him as I told the anecdote over the years. He was the very first Brent I can remember. There have been many since.”

Read Gervais’ full post below, which also touches on the inspiration behind such Office characters as Gareth and Tim.

Speaking to NME last year, Gervais said that he likes to give The Office fans “hope” about what the future holds for its characters, quipping: “it’s not over until you’re dead.”