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Ricky Gervais responds to petition calling for censorship of Netflix Christmas Day Special

The Office creator has hit back at critics requesting he censor his latest special

Ricky Gervais responds to petition calling for censorship of Netflix Christmas Day Special
Danielle de Wolfe
22 December 2023

Ricky Gervais has broken his silence following calls for the censorship of his Netflix 'Armageddon' Special.

The award-winning comic had been accused of 'ableism' following the release of a clip from the forthcoming special, which is due to hit the streaming platform on December 25.

Now, the star - who rose to prominence as co-creator and star of British sitcom The Office - has hit out at the 99% of critics he says are choosing to take "faux” offense to his jokes.

The controversy surrounds one scene in particular, centred around a 'Make-A-Wish' skit - a type of foundation allowing terminally ill children to have their final wishes granted.

As part of the teaser, Gervais can be heard using the term "baldy" in reference to one young cancer patient - a term that's been widely deemed as derogatory towards those with disabilities.

The comic has since said the reaction to his sketches changes depending on the audience - noting the paying ticket holders who view his shows receive comedy in an entirely different way to the wider, more generalist audiences who view he specials on streaming platforms like Netflix.

“That’s the other thing. I can play to a million people, I won’t get a complaint,” Gervais said in conversation with Nihal Arthanayake of BBC Radio 5 Live’s Headliners podcast.

“As soon as it goes on Netflix or as soon as someone writes up a joke that says this is offensive, people go, ‘Oh, that’s offensive.’

"They haven’t even heard the joke. They weren’t there. Ignore them. They don’t count. They have no effect on me. They don’t count. They’re hecklers,” says the comic.

The controversial skit taken from the star's 'Armageddon' tour depicts the comic joking about requests he received from ill children during the Coronavirus pandemic.

"I always say yes. And I always start the video the same way. I go 'Why didn't you wish to get better? What, you f***ing r*****d as well?" says Gervais.

As part of the clip, Ricky then says: "I then burst into hospitals and go 'Wake up baldy'. Look at me twerking on TikTok."

The petition, created on by "a parent whose child, bravely battled cancer", calls on the streaming giant to censor such material.

It has now garnered over 12,000 signatures since going live, with the parent adding they “can’t comprehend how a writer or anyone at Netflix could greenlight such appalling content.”

Labelling the joke "disrespectful" and "deeply hurtful", the mother says his work "mocks the courage and resilience of these young fighters who face their illness with grace and beauty despite their baldness".

In response, Gervais added during an interview with Nihal Arthanayake of BBC Radio 5 Live’s Headliners podcast: “It’s sort of like a reaction. They don’t analyze it. They feel something. That’s what offense is.”

“It’s a feeling, you know? That’s why it’s quite meaningless. Because what’s your argument? What do you want me to change?” Gervais said.

You can catch the full special on Netflix from Christmas Day.