You would think that someone with the worldwide mega-celebrity that Ricky Gervais has (and deservedly so, I think) would not have any obscurities still left to discover on his IMDB page, but I get the feeling that except for the most devoted Gervais fanboys (obviously I am outing myself here) few people have heard of, or seem to recall, his 1999 one-off for Channel 4’s Comedy Lab series of pilots, “Golden Years.”
In a role, and in a shooting style, that presages both “David Brent” and The Office, Gervais and Stephen Merchant tell the story of Clive Meadows, a middle-aged David Bowie-obsessed video rental chain owner in Reading who wants to impersonate Bowie on a national television show.
Ultimately Clive is a less sympathetic idiot than Brent (who treated women better). It’s probably for the best that Gervais and Merchant’s pilot wasn’t picked up by Channel 4, because obviously once they got sent back to the drawing board, they were able to fully perfect their unique brand of pathetica resulting in one of the crown jewels of BBC comedy, The Office.
Which is not to say that “Golden Years” isn’t hilarious, because it’s absolutely bust-a-gut funny. A gem.
My favorite line is “Do it like Freddie” but that’s not giving anything away.