Come on Ricky Gervais: stop instagramming and vining videos of your cat, no matter how cute it is, and start writing another series of Extras.
It’s ten years to the week since Gervais’s Andy Millman, the sarcastic, cynical but totally lovable aspiring actor first popped up on our screens, and it’s been way too long since the show ceased production in 2007.
The searingly uncomfortable sitcom, co-written and co-starred in by British comedy dream team Gervais and Stephen Merchant, ran for only two short series, and in my eyes – and increasingly with hindsight – it was definitely not enough.
It needs to make a comeback, sharpish – because who doesn’t like to see celebrities taking the mick out of themselves?
In case you don’t know (even though you should), the show followed Millman’s unfulfilling career as a background artist with ditzy best friend Maggie Jacobs (Ashley Jensen) by his side, and his pretty useless agent, Darren Lamb (Merchant) failing to get Andy more than one line in a movie.
But it was Extras’ trademark guest appearances from famous faces, playing themselves, that really stood out. They cleverly played on celebrities’ perceived public personas, warping and exaggerating them so much that Daniel Radcliffe became a bit of a perverted pest, and Keith Chegwin ended up being a crude homophobe.
There’s many reasons I think Extras needs to return to our telly boxes.
It was original and highly satirical. It was brilliantly put together, with such accurate observations of what the public believe celebrities are actually like in real life; twisting those ideas and exaggerating them so much that we ended up with a shamelessly self-obsessed Chris Martin, or turned them full circle to give us a mean and nasty Stephen Fry (I know, it’s hard to imagine).
On a bit of a deeper level, Extras showed viewers that public perceptions portrayed and influenced by the media aren’t always accurate, and so exaggerating those personas, and having celebrities willing to play a twisted version of themselves, gave room for the public to view celebrities as real people. They might be playing a sadistic bigot on the telly – but that’s not what they really are, funnily enough.
Remember when the lovable Patrick Stewart acted like a sex-obsessed child – wanting to star as a James Bond type who can make women’s clothes fall off with his mind?
Remember when Daniel Radcliffe turned into a pubescent teenager with a huge ego, attempting to impress Maggie by talking about condoms and fags, and by letting her know that he’d “done it”.
The scene when his “johnny” lands on Dame Diana Rigg’s head in the canteen is amazing, and most cringe-worthy, but his smutty remarks throughout the episode create a character you couldn’t have imagined little Harry Potter as before.
That’s not to forget David Bowie’s charming little ditty either: “Pathetic little fat man, no-one’s bloody laughing, the clown that no one laughs at, they all just wish he’d die”. Catchy, right?
We need Extras back because there’s a never ending stream of celebrities who can take the mick out of themselves for our entertainment, and there’s not been anything quite like it since.
We need Extras back because in today’s world, it could be more relevant than ever.
Twitter was barely a thing when the original run ended. Today, social media is taking over, and celebrities are in some ways becoming less like people and more like robots. What’s more, the daily insights we can get straight from the source are seeing us become ever more obsessed with the rich and famous, whose private lives are plastered on the front of their own Instagram accounts every day, and not just the tabloids.
Remember Andy’s poignant speech in the Christmas special?
“I’m just sick of these celebrities just living their life out in the open, why would you do that? It’s like these pop stars who choose the perfect moment to go into rehab; they call their publicist before they call a taxi.”
The time is ripe for social media satire, and for showbiz royalty to send themselves up once more.
Imagine. Kanye West has feelings, he’s selfless and so grateful for the opportunities that Andy has brought to him. Maybe a picture of Morgan Freeman’s vast Playboy collection goes viral, or Matthew McConaughey is a chauvinistic drama queen, whining about having to now do ‘serious films’ instead of just taking his top off like the good old days, and screaming his coffee isn’t hot enough before throwing it in a minion’s face.
Maybe Beyonce really does demand Titanium straws and red toilet paper when she’s on tour.
Gervais and Merchant, I’m begging you to grab some of today’s superstars and make another series. You know you want to…