Ricky Gervais’s latest project Derek began this week, and to put it bluntly, i loved it. A work of art. Conceptually perfect. It isn’t your usual comedy series, it is a sweet drama detailing the life of Derek Noakes, a care worker in a home for the elderly, he is kind, selfless and has nothing but good intentions.
The pilot episode which was broadcast last year received criticism even before it had begun, with critics from all over labeling it a cruel and vile comedy. Instead Derek turned out to be an absolute delight to watch, it’s not easy to blend comedy and poignancy but Gervais has managed to bring the two together perfectly. This was magnificent, heartfelt stuff. The pilot was touching, humane, painfully sad and sometimes hilarious.
The moment that stuck with me the most however was the very end of the pilot episode. Derek has gone out to buy one of the residents a lottery scratchcard which ends up winning £10. He walks through the elderly home cheerfully telling everyone that the resident has won a tenner in the lottery, however when he arrives to the residents room, the home Manager Hannah explains to Derek that she has passed away. The scene then cuts to Derek being interviewed about how he feels, he explains tearfully:
“She said – ‘kindness is magic, Derek’ she said it’s more important to be kind than good-looking and clever.. I’m not clever or good-looking. But I’m kind.”
It was this scene that showed me just how sweet Derek really is. In the first episode of series one we see that under Government cuts an official has been sent to inspect the home and see what can be cut back. Hannah the home manager is fighting desperately to keep the home safe from such cuts, we then cut to her explaining..
“Ninety per cent of care home residents die within six months of being rehomed”
Karl Pilkington plays Dougie, Derek’s friend and he really is in his element, in the first episode he even managed to act a smile, it was amazing. Another brilliant moment is where the official approaches Derek and asks whether he can have him tested for Autism, to which Derek replies:
“If I’m autistic would it change me? Would it kill me? Would it make me a different person?”
“Then leave it.”
Derek isn’t meant to be laugh a minute. Yes it is comedy, but its also highlighting the plight and treatment at a section of society, Derek is more than just simple humour, it is thought provoking and asks questions of you.