Extras (TV series)

Extras (TV series)

infobox television
show_name = Extras

format = Situation comedy
camera = Single camera
runtime = approx. 30 min. (regular episodes)
90 min. (series finale)
creator = Ricky Gervais
Stephen Merchant
writer = Ricky Gervais
Stephen Merchant
director = Ricky Gervais
Stephen Merchant
starring = Ricky Gervais
Ashley Jensen
Stephen Merchant
Shaun Williamson
Shaun Pye
endtheme = "Tea for the Tillerman"
by Cat Stevens
country = United Kingdom
network = BBC Two / HBO
first_aired = July 21, 2005
last_aired = December 27, 2007
num_seasons = 2
num_episodes = 13
tv_com_id = 33212
imdb_id = 0445114

"Extras" is a British television sitcom about extras working on film sets and in theatre. The series is co-produced by the BBC and HBO, and is created, written, and directed by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, both of whom also star in it. "Extras" charts the lives of Andy Millman, his friend Maggie Jacobs and Andy's substandard agent and ex-Carphone Warehouse employee Darren Lamb as Millman rises to fame.

"Extras" has two seasons of six episodes each as well as a Christmas Special. The first episode aired in the UK on 21 July 2005 on BBC Two and on 25 September, 2005 on HBO in the US. The second series premiered in the UK on BBC Two on 14 September, 2006 and began airing in the US on HBO and in Australia on ABC on 14 February, 2007. [ [http://www.hbo.com/extras/?ntrack_para1=leftnav_category0_show3 HBO: Extras ] ] The Christmas Special aired on 27 December, 2007 on BBC Two and on 16 December, 2007 on HBO. Both series are available on DVD in the UK and the US.The series is filmed in a more traditional sitcom style than the mockumentary style used by Gervais and Merchant in their previous series "The Office". Each episode has at least one guest star; a television or film celebrity, who play what Gervais and Merchant have referred to as "twisted" versions of themselves [cite web| last = Lee| first = Alana| authorlink = | coauthors = | title = BBC - Movies - interview - Ricky Gervais| work = | publisher = BBC| date = 2005-03| url = http://www.bbc.co.uk/films/2005/03/18/ricky_gervais_valiant_interview.shtm| format = | doi = | accessdate = 2008-08-29] ; an exaggerated or inverted parody of their famous public personas.

Cast and characters

*Ricky Gervais as Andy Millman
*Ashley Jensen as Maggie Jacobs
*Stephen Merchant as Darren Lamb (credited as "Agent")
*Shaun Williamson as Barry from "EastEnders" (himself)
*Shaun Pye as Greg Lindley-Jones


eries one

Gervais stated that he could not see himself doing a third series, as he and Merchant believed that more episodes would dilute the quality. They have often cited that "Fawlty Towers" only ran for two series, and this was also the reason given for ending "The Office" after two series. [cite web| last =Kilkelly | first = Daniel| authorlink = | coauthors = | title = Gervais: Third 'Extras' series unlikely| work = | publisher = Digital Spy| date = 2005-09-14| url = http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/article/ds37046.html| format = | doi = | accessdate = 2008-08-29] However, after the second series had finished, Gervais was quoted in the "Mirror" as saying that there was "some mileage in it" and suggested there could be a third series, [cite web| last = Methven| first = Nicola| authorlink = | coauthors = | title = EXCLUSIVE: Gervais has eye on Hollywood A-List| work = | publisher = The Daily Mirror| date = 2006-12-12| url = http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/topstories/tm_method=full%26objectid=18247681%26siteid=94762-name_page.html| format = | doi = | accessdate = 2008-08-29] . In December 2006, Gervais announced that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was on his wishlist to appear in "another series", but then denied it a month later. Gervais had also mentioned Bruce Willis, Mickey Rooney, and Dick Van Dyke as possibilities for the third series. [cite web| last = Williams| first = Lowri| authorlink = | coauthors = | title = Bruce Willis And Arnold Schwarzenegger For Extras?| work = | publisher = [http://www.entertainmentwise.com Entertainmentwise] | date = 2006-12-12| url = http://www.entertainmentwise.com/news?id=25873| format = | doi = | accessdate = 2008-08-29] At the Live 8 concert it was reported that Madonna had asked to appear in the series, and in a separate interview Will Ferrell revealed his desire to join the show if Gervais asked him. [cite web| last = | first = | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = WILL FERRELL - FERRELL DESPERATE TO BE ON EXTRAS| work = | publisher = [http://www.contactmusic.com Contact Music] | date = 2007-04-06| url = http://www.contactmusic.com/news.nsf/article/ferrell%20desperate%20to%20be%20on%20extras_1027297| format = | doi = | accessdate = 2008-08-29] Gervais had also reportedly been keen for Robert De Niro to appear again, after having only a small role in the last episode of the second series.

On March 19, 2007 the BBC reported that Gervais and Merchant would be writing a one-off finale episode (similar to how they finished "The Office"). At that time, a representative for Gervais said that the idea was in its "very, very early stages". [

citenews|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/6466469.stm|title=Extras to bow out with final show|author=BBC News|date=2007-03-19|accessdate=2007-03-19] The final part, like "The Office", would allow the series to be sold into syndication worldwide.

As a guest on "Friday Night with Jonathan Ross", Ricky Gervais said there would be no third series but, like with "The Office", there would be a two-part special. Also appearing on the show at the time was actor John Travolta who agreed to be the guest star in the specials.

On July 13, 2007, it was reported by the Hollywood Reporter that the show would end with a final, one hour episode, to be filmed in August 2007. [ [http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/television/news/e3i527c53d15a771eec2932bfcf21d3d577 TCA: HBO stays the course sans Albrecht ] ] This was confirmed by a video posted on Ricky Gervais' site starring Gervais and Stephen Merchant.

On September 15, before his stand-up performance of Fame at the Hammersmith Apollo, a trailer for the special was shown. It showed clips of Clive Owen, David Tennant (in costume as the Tenth Doctor, whom he plays in "Doctor Who"), Lionel Blair, Lisa Scott-Lee, Hale and Pace, Gordon Ramsay, George Michael and Barry from "EastEnders". The trailer shows a selection of scenes from the special, including Andy helping George Michael avoid paparazzi on Hampstead Heath, scenes from a Christmas special of Andy's television series "When the Whistle Blows", and Andy with his head in his hands in the "Big Brother" house while other celebrities perform a dance routine. There is also a cameo appearance by Karl Pilkington as an autograph hunter who shuns Millman when he is at a low point in his career.

It aired in the United States on December 16, 2007 and on the UK December 27, 2007. It is yet to be aired in Australia. The episode's soundtrack features the songs "This Woman's Work" by Kate Bush and" Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want" by The Smiths.

"When the Whistle Blows"

"When the Whistle Blows" is the show-within-a-show sitcom in "Extras" created, co-written by and starring Andy Millman. It was first mentioned in episode "1.3", as a script that Millman had written and given to his agent who neglected to read it. The script was turned into a sitcom on BBC1 in the first series finale, after Millman gave the script to Patrick Stewart. Excerpts from the sitcom are featured in the second series, and many of the "Extras" plotlines have revolved around Millman's experiences with the show.

"When the Whistle Blows" is set in a Wigan factory canteen. The humour is broad and lowbrow in the manner of many catchphrase-based sitcoms. The show is unpopular with reviewers but popular with the public. It did receive a BAFTA nomination, though Millman suspected it was there simply to make up the numbers, and in the end it lost heavily to an unspecified programme by Stephen Fry.

Millman is deeply unhappy with the show, feeling that too many people have interfered with his original ideas in the hunt for ratings. It appears that Millman originally set out to do a comedy similar to "The Office", with true-to-life characters in a realistic work environment, without a studio audience or laughter track. The show has turned out to be the opposite of what he originally intended. The show is further debased by the unexplained guest appearance by Chris Martin of Coldplay, in episode 2.4, which bears no relation to the plot — this can be seen as something of a reflexive joke, i.e., a celebrity appearing on a show within a show, which features celebrities.

It has been suggested that the presence of studio audiences/canned laughter, and the reliance on funny wigs, costumes and catch phrases for humour is a comment on recent comedy hits such as "Little Britain". [cite web| last = Dessau| first = Bruce| authorlink = | coauthors = | title = Little at Large| work = | publisher = The Scotsman| date = 2006-10-01| url = http://news.scotsman.com/topics.cfm?tid=1220&id=1454502006| format = | doi = | accessdate = 2008-08-29] Many people that Millman sees at the recording of the pilot wear T-shirts displaying recent comedy catchphrases, such as "Wassup", "It's Chico Time", "I'm a lady!", "Am I bovvered?" and "Garlic bread?". It should be noted that in the US version of that episode, the shots of the catchphrase t-shirts have been cut out of the show, presumably because American audiences would not understand the references. However, some of the reviews that the show gets refer to it as a "time warp comedy", and Millman's character talks about 1970s catchphrases such as Mr Humphreys' "I'm Free" (from "Are You Being Served?") and Frank Spencer's "Ooh Betty" (from "Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em"), suggest that it is also partly sending up 1970s British comedy. In Episode 2.5 at the beginning, Germaine Greer (playing herself) suggests that "When the Whistle Blows" is "sub "Carry On". Ricky Gervais himself has said that he doesn't dislike all "broad humour", but that rather it is about being "careful what you wish for".

Music / Title Song

The closing title track is called "Tea for the Tillerman", which is written and performed by Cat Stevens and is the title track of his album "Tea for the Tillerman". The fourth episode of the second season of the show features a cover of the song performed by Chris Martin of Coldplay.

The song in the Christmas Special highlighting Maggie's depression after she hits bottom and quits acting is "This Woman's Work" by Kate Bush. [cite web|url=http://www.film.com/tv/story/music-extras-fames-fickle-finger/17709292|title=Music on Extras: Fame's Fickle Finger|last=Lelane|first=Drake|date=Dec 18, 2007|publisher=film.com|accessdate=2008-09-11]


Overall, "Extras" has been received very well by critics in the UK. The show received 3 BAFTA Award nominations in 2006 including Best Comedy Performance for Ashley Jensen, Best Writer for Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, and Best Situation Comedy. In 2007, both Gervais and Merchant were nominated, separately, for Best Comedy Performance. Gervais ended up winning the award.

The show has also received high accolades in the US. In 2006, the show received four nominations for the 58th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards. Ben Stiller and Patrick Stewart received nominations for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series and both lost to Leslie Jordan on "Will & Grace". Kate Winslet received a nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series and lost to Cloris Leachman for "Malcolm in the Middle". Gervais and Merchant were also nominated for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series for the episode with Kate Winslet. They lost to Greg Garcia for writing the pilot episode of "My Name Is Earl". In 2007, the show received four nominations for the 59th Primetime Emmy Awards. Gervais was nominated for and won Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, and Ian McKellen was nominated for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series. Gervais and Merchant were also nominated for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series for the episode with Daniel Radcliffe and Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series for the episode with Orlando Bloom. Extras made the Top 10 list of Outstanding Comedy Series, but was not nominated in the Top 5.


* According to a segment in the extras section of the Season 1 DVD, Jude Law was scheduled to appear in one of the episodes, after meeting Gervais backstage on the "Late Show with David Letterman", but had to pull out due to film commitments. This resulted in Gervais and Merchant having to scramble to find a replacement actor at the last minute, with Leonardo DiCaprio being considered. A featurette on the first series DVD release, "Finding Leo", consists of late-night video camera footage (shot mostly by Merchant) chronicling Gervais' fruitless and ultimately unsuccessful attempts to contact DiCaprio's manager. Law was ultimately replaced by Patrick Stewart in the series 1 finale, although a poster for the Jude Law film "Alfie" appeared at the end. Other actors that did not appear in Extras despite initial reports from Gervais include Madonna, Brad Pitt, [cite web| last = Smith| first = Neil| authorlink = | coauthors = | title = Extras 'a nightmare' says Gervais| work = | publisher = BBC News| date = 2005-07-14| url = http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/tv_and_radio/4680133.stm| format = | doi = | accessdate = 2008-08-29] and Tom Cruise. [cite web| last = Williams| first = Lowri| authorlink = | coauthors = | title = Tom Cruise To Appear In Ricky Gervais' 'Extras'| work = | publisher = [http://www.entertainmentwise.com Entertainmentwise] | date = 2005-11-08| url = http://www.entertainmentwise.com/news?id=10285| format = | doi = | accessdate = 2008-08-29]
*On an episode of "Friday Night with Jonathan Ross", Gervais asked John Travolta to appear in the Extras special on air. At the end of the show, Jonathan Ross persuaded them to dance together in order to seal their deal, in reference to Travolta's story of how he danced with Sean Connery.


External links

* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/comedy/extras/ "Extras"] at BBC Comedy
* [http://www.hbo.com/extras/ "Extras"] at HBO
* [http://www.rickygervais.com/2extras2.php "Extras"] at RickyGervais.com
* [http://www.phill.co.uk/comedy/extras/index.html "Extras"] at British TV Comedy
* [http://www.metacritic.com/tv/shows/extrasseason2 "Extras: Season 2" Reviews] at Metacritic
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiFHiqpw7Yw "Extras"] at Youtube

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