David Brent has cashed in his pensions, taken unpaid leave and hit the road in an attempt to achieve his dream of rock stardom.
Directed, written by and starring Ricky Gervais, David Brent: Life on the Road catches up with Brent twelve years on from the BBC mockumentary The Office to find he is now a travelling salesman with Lavichem, a cleaning and ladies’ personal hygiene products company. However, he hasn’t given up on his dream of rock stardom and is about to embark on a self-financed UK tour with his band, Foregone Conclusion.
When it was first shown on BBC 2, The Office was very nearly cancelled due to its low ratings, but is now regarded as one of the greatest British sitcoms of all time and has become one of the most successful UK comedy exports.
It made a household name out of its cast such as Martin Freeman, Stephen Merchant and of course Brent himself, Ricky Gervais.
Gervais says ‘This is a lot different to The Office – this is a lot more about Brent’s private life. I always said I would never bring The Office back and I never will. It would be a bit weird to revisit a sitcom with all the same people at the same desks after 15 years, it would be really hokey and sad!”
“Brent’s slightly more confessional than he was in the 90s – in a good way. He’s been through a bit of therapy and he’s come out of it with his chin held high. I think in the film we see slight changes, a slight evolution, a slight change of environment, but it’s always out of the frying pan in to the fire. He is his own worst enemy and he brings a lot of it on himself, but some of it he can’t help. He can’t help his age. He can’t help where he was born. He can’t help how he looks. He can’t help some of those things that the world looks down upon him for, but he can help most of it!”
We were delighted to be invited along for a screening and can report that the passing years have not diluted Brent's unwittingly offensive attitude; it still makes for truly excruciating viewing! He has a tendency to promote himself as an intelligent and politically correct middle-class man, but often demonstrates a terrible attitude towards ethnic minorities, disabled people and women. His various attitudes and faux-pas – cringeworthy and insulting as they may appear to the audience – are rarely malicious and are frequently the result of naivety and self-delusion combined with being in the wrong place at the wrong time. His remarks are commonly compounded by awkward retractions once he realizes the implications of what he’s said.
Even twelve years on, he still has a consistent need to be acknowledged as a cutting edge comedian, as well as being skilled in sales and music – but is still sadly perceived as pretentious, arrogant and awkward. When asked how Brent is seen in 2016, Gervais says, “Brent is like a Frankenstein of everyone I knew growing up and working with and he’s just a very ordinary man who is trying to achieve something he’s not capable of – and that’s quite funny.
“He has changed, he is older – some would say a little bit wiser, but we find out what’s happened since his days on The Office. He’s had a little bit of a breakdown, which was on the cards. It’s about how he coped with it and how he coped with fame and how he’s still obsessed with it and how he still wants it even though it’s not his friend – and nor is the camera. He thinks it will be different.”
Be prepared to enjoy in all its cringeworthy splendour life of the road with David Brent!
David Brent: Life on the Road opens at Showcase Cinemas on August 19