The bench at Nottingham’s Arboretum was one of 25 donated to councils by Netflix and suicide prevention charity Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) in the wake of the series’ conclusion.
Nottingham City Council said the vandalism over the weekend was “unacceptable and heart-breaking” [via BBC News]. Nottinghamshire Police, meanwhile, called it a “despicable act” and said it was investigating the incident.
In After Life, sometimes suicidal widower Tony Johnson (Gervais) sits on a graveyard bench where he remembers his late wife. He is often joined by fellow widow, Anne (Penelope Wilton), whom he met there after visiting the graveyard to grieve.
Audra Wynter, portfolio holder for highways, transport and parks at the city council, told the BBC: “We were devastated to see that the After Life bench, which has recently been installed at the Arboretum was destroyed over the weekend.
— NottinghamshireLive (@nottslive) May 22, 2022
“This is mindless vandalism and in no way reflects how people in Nottingham look out for each other.
“We thank the member of public who alerted us to this and took the time to collect all the damaged sections. The next step will be to look at how we can replace this bench as quickly as possible.”
Wynter added: “It’s been a symbol of hope and support to many people off the back of the series, which shone a light on loss, bereavement and mental health.”
The third and final season of Gervais’ After Life premiered on Netflix in January.
In the show, Ethan Lawrence plays a character called James – with some fans noticing a resemblance to the chat show host.
One viewer on Twitter wrote: “I’ve already laughed and cried more times I can remember over anything in a long long time. James ‘clearly Corden’ is stealing the show at this point.”
Another wrote: “Will have to get on After Life season three this weekend. Always curious to see what James Corden is up to in it, sorry I mean just James.”
Gervais, however, has said the likeness wasn’t intentional, explaining that the character made a cameo in the first season before he was even named.
Speaking to LADbible about the comparisons, he said: “Well, he was in it before I named him actually. The answer is no…. I just wanted them to have ordinary names.”