• The Hollywood Reporter on LinkedIn
  • Follow THR on Pinterest
JAN
21
4 YEARS

EXCLUSIVE: 'Ricky Gervais Show' Co-Creator Hopes Globes Outcry Boosts His Ratings

Stephen Merchant dismisses the awards show controversy as media-created, but the fallout could help their show.

Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

The Ricky Gervais Show's co-creator Stephen Merchant hopes the chatter around Gervais’ Golden Globe appearance will help their HBO show, which airs its second program on Friday.

Merchant tells The Hollywood Reporter they wouldn't mind a boost from the sudden media-fueled infamy. "That would be ideal. I like that. The Golden Globes bump," he says.

"Maybe we should advertise the show as being from Golden Globes host Ricky Gervais."

Despite the past week of reported industry disapproval following the telecast, Merchant does not believe that the outcry that has followed Gervais' hosting gig is real. Nor does he believe that celebrities were truly upset by the jokes. Take Bruce Willis for instance, the butt of one Gervais joke.

"I don't believe Bruce Willis went home and cried into his pillow," says Merchant. "It's Bruce Willis. He made Die-Hard."

(READ: Gervais' best lines from the night)

Merchant helped Gervais prepare the show, declining to say which jokes he helped out with. ("I'm not going to take credit for any jokes because I'd like to continue working in Hollywood," he jokes.) He was also backstage with Gervais during the show. In his view, the show went great -- with a "little rock and roll" and a little bit "naughty."

"There were gasps in the audience but also lots of laughs," he says. "It felt exciting."

At the afterparties, Merchant says that the good mood prevailed, even with people who had been joked about on stage.

"I saw (Gervais) laughing and joking with Tim Allen," he says. "Backstage and afterwards people were in really good spirits."

The controversy, in his view, is all about the media drawing up the hype.

"I'm suspicious of it. I cannot tell if it's people stirring the pot since it's good copy," he says.

Which is all well and good since he and Gervais have two shows to promote: An Idiot Abroad on the Science Channel on Saturdays and The Ricky Gervais Show on HBO on Fridays.

Last week’s season premiere of the animated Gervais series averaged 280,000 viewers. And while that’s not exactly boffo tune-in, that was up 58% versus the first season premiere on HBO.