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Backstage at Ricky Gervais’s new sitcom

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He may have hit 50 this year, but Ricky Gervais is still some way off the creative pipe and slippers.

Not content with his work as Karl Pilkington’s tormentor-in-chief on An Idiot Abroad 2, an upcoming new stand-up show called Humanity and an embryonic TV pilot with the creator of Dexter, he’s currently putting the finishing touches to another project: a return to British TV with writing partner Stephen Merchant for sitcom Life’s Too Short.

If these new and exclusive on-set pictures are anything to go by, it might be the most intriguing thing in Gervais’s bulging diary. In the works for more than a year, the series (as that punning title suggests) probes the world of ‘showbiz dwarves’ with Willow’s Warwick Davis playing the customary warped version of himself.

Filmed in mockumentary style and dripping with the writer-directors’ patented brand of fist-chewing social comedy, it’s undoubtedly a mix of The Office and Extras.

The humiliations that the bitter, fictionalised Warwick Davis faces as he deals with requests at his ‘small persons’ talent agency’ have more than a hint of David Brent about them.

One scene reportedly features Davis making a celebrity appearance at a wedding, only to be presented with a Star Wars R2-D2 outfit. An insult too far — he actually played an Ewok. In other cringeworthy moments, the actor tries to kickstart his film career and deals with a bitter divorce battle.

There’s also a list of celebrity cameos to shame Extras’ velvet-rope casting policy. Sting (picture 2), Johnny Depp and Steve Carell have all agreed to lampoon their public personas. Gervais and Merchant will also be making brief appearances as themselves in the show and have also talked up the possibility of a big-screen spin-off in the future.

Looks like those metaphorical monogrammed slippers will stay in their wrapper for a while yet.

Life's Too Short will be on BBC Two this autumn

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Ricky Gervais

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