Five years after Derek ended, Ricky Gervais is back to scripted comedy with After Life.
In his new series, Ricky plays Tony, a man who loses his perfect life when his wife dies unexpectedly. He lashes out by saying and doing whatever he wants without a second thought. The hitch − other people still care about him.
TV WEEK caught up with Ricky, 57, to learn about After Life.
Why does Tony do what he does?
This is a man who's struggling. He doesn't know what to do − and, of course, he's not very discerning. He's just in pain, but gradually learns that some people deserve punishment and others don't, and he's naturally nice.
Is telling the truth all the time a good or a bad thing?
People make the mistake of thinking that if you say controversial or honest things, or anything contentious, you're trying to hurt feelings. I'm never trying to hurt feelings, but I do believe [causing] offence is the collateral damage of free speech.
What makes you happy?
Dogs. Me and my girlfriend go for walks whether in London or New York, just so I can meet dogs. She says it's the best thing about me being famous, because I can go up to any dog and they [their owners] don't think I'm a madman. They go, "Oh, it's the bloke off The Office." I can play with any dogs I like! I think they're magical.
Does calling your show After Life signal a change from being an atheist?
We've got our 100 years, if we're really lucky, and that's it. That's what makes life so precious – it's finite. Morality was around before religion. Religion is 6000 years old. We've survived 200,000 years as humans. We're fine.
After Life premieres Friday, March 8, on Netflix.