Ricky Gervais says ‘cancel culture’ has made people “lose their sense of irony”

He claimed "the BBC have got more and more careful"

Ricky Gervais has suggested The Office may have been made differently today thanks to ‘cancel culture’.

The actor, who starred in the BBC comedy from 2001 to 2003 as cringeworthy office manager David Brent, said the current debate about what is deemed acceptable would bring his and co-creator Stephen Merchant’s award-winning mockumentary series straight into the conversation.

“This was a show about everything,” Gervais told Times Radio yesterday (July 9). “It was about difference, it was about sex, race, all the things that people fear to even be discussed or talked about now, in case they say the wrong thing and they are cancelled.”


He added: “I think if [The Office] was put out now, some people have lost their sense of irony and context.”

Gervais added that “the BBC have got more and more careful” about what they choose to commission in the current climate. He claimed the broadcaster would “worry about some of the subjects and jokes, even though they were clearly ironic and we were laughing at this buffoon being uncomfortable around difference”.

The Office
‘The Office’ might not have reached its audience were it not for a summer of season one re-runs. Credit: Alamy

His comments come amid a renewed focus on the ‘cancel culture’ discourse following an open letter signed by writers and academics published earlier this week. In the letter, signatories including J.K. Rowling, Margaret Atwood and Noam Chomsky called for an end to ‘cancel culture’ and advocated for free speech.

.K. Rowling arrives at the 2019 RFK Ripple of Hope Awards at New York Hilton Midtown on December 12, 2019 in New York City. CREDIT: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

Addressing free speech, Gervais added to Times Radio that there are “outrage mobs that take everything out of context” and pressed that free speech was not the same as criticism-free speech.


“Some people think freedom of speech means, I should be able to say anything without consequences and it doesn’t mean that,” he said.

And when he was asked whether he was “cancel-proof”, Gervais said: “I’m not cancel-proof, I just don’t care.

“I’m cancel-proof in the sense that I’ve got enough money [already]. If they started taking things back, then I’d worry.”

In other news, the After Life star and creator said recently that people who hear his jokes shouldn’t “mistake” them for his own views.

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