It’s always fascinating to see a famous performer in their more formative years. For Ricky Gervais, his formative years were rather brief, as he had his mainstream television debut in 1999. That’s two years before “The Office” first aired on the BBC, when his career subsequently exploded. Nevertheless, it’s very interesting to see where the comedian got his start. Gervais got his first big break in a one-off for Channel 4’s “Comedy Lab,” which is a program that showcases comedy pilots. Gervais’ show, co-written with Stephen Merchant, was called “Golden Years” and, thankfully for us, the entire episode is available online.
Dangerous Minds recently unearthed the little-seen pilot whose style is not that far off from what Merchant/Gervais would later do with “The Office.” Gervais’ character is Clive Meadows, an owner of a video rental chain that’s obsessed with David Bowie and wants to impersonate him on national television show called “Stars In Their Eyes.” Meadows’ personality is strongly reminiscent of the David Brent character and the 22-minute episode moves at a very brisk pace. It’s remarkably sure of itself and may have made for a fun little sitcom if it was given the chance.
Then again, we’re sure Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant were more than happy with how the future turned out for them. Now it seems they can pretty much do whatever they want, at least in the realm of television. Be sure to check out “Golden Years” below. Bonus round: Gervais would get to meet his idol, David Bowie, when landed him for a guest appearances on "Extras." Watch that below as well.