Before The Office premiered UK and long before American audiences knew their names, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant joined together in a recording studio in London to create The Ricky Gervais Show. The show was broadcast on radio via XFM with a more traditional morning show format. The duo would put the show on hiatus to launch The Office. It was later revived with one Karl Pilkington as the show’s producer. It wasn’t long after they began incorporating Pilkington into their conversations did they realize the comedy to come out of Pilkington’s unique view on the world. The show became a broadcast and, perhaps more importantly, an early internet sensation.
The runaway success of the The Ricky Gervais Show was obviously aided by the success of the The Office but the gold mine the duo discovered in Pilkington can’t be understated. The radio show would end in 2005 (but live on as an early podcast), and it allowed the trio to work on numerous other successful projects, including the comedy travel show An Idiot Abroad as well as an animated version of the show airing on HBO. But the trio’s careers have since gone in different directions.
Now, 17 years after the show ended, it seems its impact hasn’t gone away. On September 10th, fans gathered in an event space in Salford, England for the first convention dedicated to the show. The relatively small event brought people from all over, even from across the pond.
Titled RSK Convention (standing for Ricky, Stephen and Karl), the convention is in no way affiliated with the show or anybody involved with the show. It is run by Timeryder Productions, a small England-based production company. It appears that this was the first event created by the company, and they describe the event as being “by the fans, for the fans.”
There were costumes, celebrations and surprise guests. Speakers included rapper and comedian Doc Brown and fan favorite Richard Anderson. Surprisingly to some, there continues to a be a community built around the show, and it’s a community that’s willing to meet up in Salford.
If you’re reading this as someone who has never heard of the show, or someone who only just thought of it for the first time in a decade after reading this article, the whole thing might seem a bit preposterous. But the show has managed to keep a foothold in the internet, granting it staying power. There is a generation of people who first entered the internet at the zenith of the show’s popularity, and it has cemented itself as part of internet culture.
It also got a second life when it was brought back to HBO in animated form, and these old episodes have surreptitiously popped up again and again on Youtube. The show is also in many ways the progenitor of the modern podcasting craze, but that’s a story for another article…
Timeryder Productions has already announced that another convention will be happening next year. This may mean that fan appreciation for the show will continue to burn strong for a while longer.