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How to be a man according to the characters of BBC’s The Office

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Tom Fordy
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15 years after it first aired, The Office is not just one of the greatest British comedies ever, it’s also essential viewing for modern men. Boasting the best selection of male specimens this side of the Slough Trading Estate, there’s plenty to learn about what it means to a man.

Here’s a look at who Wernham Hogg’s finest are and what they can teach us about masculinity in a working environment.

  • How to be a man according to the characters of BBC's The Office

    David Brent

    The Man: Friend first, boss second (probably entertainer third). Brent’s cringe-worthy need for popularity is uncomfortably close to home, but beneath the awkwardness, he’s a man wrestling with his own sense of masculinity: pretending to like football, endless boasts about boozing, his tragic role as Finchy’s punching bag.

    Style: Not afraid to wear a pair of heels. You shouldn’t be either. If you can find them. 

    Manly Skills: Singer songwriter. The music comes naturally.

    Romeo Credentials: His attempt at flirting with his new PA are skin-crawlingly bad. And that’s before he accidentally gives her a black eye.

    Manly Quote: “Don’t worry, I haven’t got any balls.”

    What We’ve Learned: Don’t get weighed down by the expectation of what it means to be a popular man. Remember, you’re “simply the best".

     

  • How to be a man according to the characters of BBC's The Office 1

    Finchy

    The Man: Chris Finch is like masculinity gone wrong – an eternal tormentor of anyone he perceives to be weaker than himself. A walking talking lads’ mag, he’s the kind of bloke who uses terms like “single-barrel pump-action yoghurt flinger” and would gladly sleep with your girlfriend then laugh about it the next day.

    Style: A selection of off-the-peg suits and Slough’s worst moustache.

    Manly Skills: Bloody good rep.

    Romeo Credentials: Finchy has enough sexual magnetism to fill a paper sales warehouse. The notches on his bedstead will forever remain a mystery.

    Quote: “You look like you’ve had a Pot Noodle and a wank mate.”

    What We’ve Learned: Not all of life’s problems can be solved by chucking a copper kettle over a pub.

  • How to be a man according to the characters of BBC's The Office 2

    Tim

    The Man: He’s hardly a catch – he lives with his parents, has no mates, and balks from all responsibility – but Tim still the most likable man at Wernham Hogg.

    Style: Fisher Price hair and Hat FM, which is a radio as well as a hat. Not a good look.

    Manly Skills: First-class knob gags (“Could you give a man a lethal blow, Gareth?”)

    Romeo Credentials: A pioneer of less-than-subtle office flirting, Tim slowly falls for receptionist Dawn. His mistake is actually asking her out. Denied. Twice. Still, they get there in the end. 

    Quote: “I could roll a six. I could also roll a one. I think sometimes just leave the dice alone."

    What We’ve Learned: It’s always worth rolling the dice (a few times if needs be). Nice guys can finish first.

  • How to be a man according to the characters of BBC's The Office 3

    Gareth

    The Man: In some ways, Gareth is like a teenage boy trapped in a man’s body. His interests include military techniques, cars, and big philosophical questions that still demand answers (will there ever be a boy born who can swim faster than a shark?).

    Style: A dreadful haircut offset by a gun/phone holster. Just to prove he’s sheriff around these parts. Well, assistant manager. All right then… assistant to the regional manager.

    Man Skills: Could catch a monkey.

    Romeo Credentials: Despite his obvious power complex, he’s a sensual lover. Especially when he brings “the toys”. (And no, not Hungry Hippos).

    Quote: “Just the eight pints for me last night, then.”

    What We’ve Learned: Self-awareness is a wonderful thing. Unfiltered, unchecked laddishness has a name. And that name is Gareth Keenan.

  • How to be a man according to the characters of BBC's The Office 4

    Neil

    The Man: Good looking, effortlessly charming, and probably a dab hand in the gym, Neil is peak masculinity personified – the kind of proper grown-up man us less-than-impressive specimens can only dream of becoming.

    Style: Well-groomed, with an eye for nice threads. It’s Neil’s Armani jacket that inspires Brent to start swaggering around in the lesser known “Sergio Georgini”.

    Manly Skills: Dancing. Good dancing as well, not Flashdance fused with MC Hammer shit.

    Romeo Credentials: Engaged to a doctor. No doubt the envy of Wernham Hogg’s female workforce.

    Quote: “Let’s agree that you agree with me.”

    What We’ve Learned: You just can’t teach that kind of top-drawer manliness. What a guy.

  • How to be a man according to the characters of BBC's The Office 5

    Lee

    The Man: Warehouse worker and Tim’s love-rival. Lee’s one of those guys who’s never quite gotten over being the most popular boy at school. We’ve all met them.

    Style: A jean and t-shirt man. Smart short for office parties. Honestly, you can’t beat the classics.

    Manly Skills: Presumably things like putting up shelves, changing tyres, fixing things and all those sorts of things proper men are meant to do.

    Romeo Credentials: Long-term boyfriend of the long-suffering Dawn, Lee is the anti-Romeo. He puts her down endlessly and never buys her anything for Christmas. Boo. 

    Quote: “Let Dawn get a couple of kiddies under her belt… then go out and get a little cleaning job.”

    What We’ve Learned: The ‘bad boy’ card only gets you so far. Be an attentive boyfriend and never take your partner for granted, because they might run off with a genuine nice guy.

  • How to be a man according to the characters of BBC's The Office 6

    Keith

    The Man: Keith – AKA “Big Keith” – is a hero for the average working man. Keith’s apathy for his job is something to be commended, showing his contempt for box-ticking and admin by listing weakness on his appraisal form as “eczema”. Genius.

    Style: The only man in history to accessorize with a scotch egg.
    Manly Skill: Accounts.

    Romeo Credentials: Presumably due to his DJ talents (he always spins the tunes at office parties) Keith is a self-confessed expert with the ladies and has a foolproof method for a-wooing.

    Quote: “I very tenderly explain to them that I will guarantee them at least one orgasm.”

    What We’ve Learned: That not being arsed in life is actually a fine art. Keith, we salute you.

  • How to be a man according to the characters of BBC's The Office 7

    Simon

    The Man: Wernham Hogg’s resident I.T. bod and general irritant. Lives in a fantasy world where he’s the best at absolutely everything: computers, go-karting, Bruce Lee trivia etc.

    Style: With his hippy-esque jewelry and brown waistcoat, he’s somewhere between shaman and rhinestone cowboy. The look of a man in control of his destiny.

    Manly Skills: Anything and everything. But he’s making shitloads out of computers, thank you very much.

    Romeo Credentials: Bound to tell you he bags a supermodel every weekend without fail. 

    Quote: “... I did a couple of laps and the bloke who runs the thing came over and said, ‘Oi, no professionals.”

    What We’ve Learned: A lack of normal social interaction or actual life can turn a man almost insane.

  • How to be a man according to the characters of BBC's The Office 8

    Glynn

    The Man: “Taffy” to his friends (and David Brent), Glynn’s the warehouse manager and about a rough and ready as men come. He’s the dictionary definition of “bloke from boozer” – foulmouthed with a laugh so filthy it could sour milk.

    Style: Like a proper man who grafts for a living, it’s overalls all the way. Will put on a suit and tie for the office party, mind you.

    Manly Skills: Offending pretty much everyone he comes into contact with.
    Romeo Credentials: More interested in videos of his dog, erm, “romancing” someone else’s dog.

    Quote: “Merry f*cking Christmas.” 

    What We’ve Learned: It’s nice to have a sensitive side. Otherwise you end up like Glynn.

  • How to be a man according to the characters of BBC's The Office 9

    The Oggmonster

    The Man: Otherwise known as “Oggy” or simply “Nathan”, Oggmonster is a friend of Gareth’s. For all his affected bawdiness – shouting out “gonads” and “tits” for a laugh when he’s put on loudspeaker – he’s actually very emotional, unafraid to show his feelings are hurt when Brent mocks his gangly appearance.

    Style: Lab coat and stethoscope. Supposedly from the local mental hospital. Honestly, it’s laugh a minute with Gareth’s crew.

    Manly Skills: Proficient in the famous blokey chant of “Oggy, oggy, oggy, oi, oi, oi!” 

    Quote: “Don’t have a go at the eyes.”

    What We’ve Learned: Body issues affect men too. Especially lanky google-eyed freaks (Brent’s words, not ours).

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Tom Fordy

Tom Fordy is a London-based writer. He is former men's magazine editor and is now works as a lifestyle and entertainment journalist and opinionated beard for hire. His interests include the great literary works of the 20th century, New Wave European cinema and the career of Hulk Hogan. Follow Tom on Twitter: @TheTomFordy

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