Ricky Gervais blasts ‘moaning’ celebs
When pop star Sam Smith broke down in tears on Instagram in their A$23.5 million house, complaining about being in isolation, there was one man the singer was not getting sympathy from.
Funnyman Ricky Gervais says celebrities, including himself, should not be whining about having to stay indoors. Instead, he says, Britain should be lining up on a Thursday evening to applaud their health worker heroes.
In an exclusive interview with The Sun, Gervais said: "After this is over I never want to hear people moaning about the welfare state again, I never want to hear people moaning about nurses again. Or porters.
"These people are doing 14-hour shifts and not complaining. Wearing masks, and being left with sores, after risking their own health and their families' health selflessly. But then I see someone complaining about being in a mansion with a swimming pool. And, you know, honestly, I just don't want to hear it."
Despite his serious, almost angry tone, he then quickly adds with his trademark chuckle: "I didn't go out much anyway, and there's always too much booze in the house. It's always been the 6pm watershed for as long as I remember. Obviously, I am looking at the watch."
Gervais, 58, knows as much as anyone about hard work, with a labourer for a dad, Larry, a hardworking mum Eva, and a long line of carers on the female side of his family. And despite his fame - and an estimated worth of more than £100 million (A$196.5) - life was not always awards bashes and the glamour of telly.
He said: "I was born in the beginning of the 60s in Battle Hospital in Reading. And that should have been an omen. Having gone by the title, I should have known life was going to be a struggle. And it was - I was the fourth child of an immigrant labourer. My dad worked on building sites all his life, until he was 70. He got up every day at 5.30am.
"Men worked hard, but women worked miracles. Because when my dad finished his work that was his own time. But my mum didn't stop working, women didn't stop working. Carers didn't stop working, all the women in my family were carers in some respect.
"I had no money growing up, I didn't have any until I was 40. But I still had everything. My mum, she gardened, she grew, she cooked, she sewed, she knitted, she decorated, she did everything she could. And she gave me everything I wanted except money. I also realised growing up that all the best things were free - friends, nature, learning and healthcare. And that's why I gladly pay my taxes. And that's why I clap for the National Health Service (NHS)."
The Office star now calls the North London suburb of Hampstead home, where he lives with his partner, author Jane Fallon, 59. But he says his upbringing in Whitley, Reading, taught him to appreciate the highs, and lows, of his extraordinary life.
Talking from his A$20.8 million home, he added: "It showed me the value of everything. People ask me why I dress like a tramp. And I say, 'My clothes are clean and comfortable. Who am I trying to impress?'. I don't wear A$98,000 watches. I don't collect cars because I can't drive.
"Nothing gives me more of a buzz than to help an animal. I don't get excited about things. I'm not a hippy or communist, I think money's for the safety of your family and friends, and you can't take it with you."
Gervais and I are chatting to promote the second series of After Life, his dark Netflix comedy about a man who loses the will to live after his wife dies of cancer. The second series picks up where the first left off, as Gervais's character, Tony, tries to cope with his own anger at the world while working as a local newspaper journalist.
To describe it as close to the bone at times would not be a stretch, and anyone who watched the first series will know it is probably not one to watch with the kids. But Gervais says he was not willing to water down the program, something he might have had to do had it been shown on the BBC, rather than Netflix.
"A lot of writers start with good intentions and say, 'I'm going to be more honest than I've ever been before, I'm going to reflect society and deal with everything in a grown-up, brave way and not water it down'. They start writing it, then someone says, 'You know, if you take out a few C-words then we'll put it on BBC1 and it'll get double figures'. You go, 'OK, take a couple out'.''
"Then they say, 'Take a couple more out and we'll put it on at 8pm and it'll get much bigger viewing figures'. You go, 'Yeah, yeah OK. Take them all out'. It's a slippery slope. And I'm very lucky to be in a privileged position. I can walk away and I can just go 'OK, I'll stick it on YouTube then'. But I've always been that way and it turned out OK. There are others who probably didn't compromise and are now sleeping in cars."
He certainly does not compromise in series two, with no minority or group spared from being the subject of a joke. Gervais is well aware of the criticism that will come his way. He said: "I think sometimes I get labelled 'controversial comedian'. Well, what they mean is honest comedian.
"Every stand-up I've done, every series I have done, there have been 10 different people complaining. Well, thousands of people. Everyone thinks their complaint is the worst thing. I did one stand-up in New York and did an Anne Frank routine. I got a complaint and I said, 'Well you got the jokes about famine, cancer and Aids? And you knew I was kidding then, so you must know I'm kidding now?'. And they went, 'Oh yeah'."
He added: "I did a routine about nut allergies and one woman said, 'You should never joke about food allergies'. And I said, 'I joke about the Holocaust and you're telling me I should never joke about food allergies?'. And she said, 'Yes, but the Holocaust didn't kill children'.
"Everything is up for grabs, it's how we do it. I have always said there's never a subject that you shouldn't talk about or joke about. It just depends what the joke is. And people get offended when they mistake the subject of the joke with the actual target."
This story originally appeared on The Sun and has been republished with permission.
Originally published as Ricky Gervais blasts 'moaning' celebs