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Ricky Gervais was this week celebrating his iconic TV series The Office turning 19 years old.
The comedian and television star wrote on Twitter to mark the moment, saying: "19 years today since David Brent hit our screens. So glad you remembered to thank him. And remember, Live Fast, Die Old."
While it should be a time of happiness and joy, the 59-year-old has reflected on what was shown in the series and pondered whether it would be allowed to go ahead in this day and age.
19 years today since David Brent hit our screens. So glad you remembered to thank him. And remember, Live Fast, Die Old. pic.twitter.com/aG7795rr2j
- Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) July 9, 2020
In a short answer: it was a no.
Speaking with The Times Radio, Ricky has hit out against cancel culture, which he claims is preventing artists from doing risky comedy.
"Now [The Office] would suffer because people would take things literally," he said. "There are these outrage mobs who take things out of context.
"This was a show about everything - it was about difference, it was about sex, race, all the things that people fear to even be discussed or talked about now, in case they say the wrong thing and they are cancelled."
Gervais was praised for the show, which aired on the BBC in 2001 and 2002, despite his character being an absolute punish to watch. His deliberate awkwardness, shamelessness and controversial comments made audiences cringe on their couches at home.
But he reckons that there's no way he would be able to get some of his more edgy lines into scripts in 2020.
"The BBC have got more and more careful, people want to keep their jobs, so would worry about some of the subjects and jokes, even though they were clearly ironic and we were laughing at this buffoon being uncomfortable around difference," he said.
"I think if this was put out now, some people have lost their sense of irony and context."
He doesn't believe in cancel culture and defends comedians from criticism if they try to push the envelope with their comedy.
The 59-year-old also says the advent of social media means that everyone has a voice and what used to be regarded as genuine discussion has now been turned into 'two tribes of people screaming'.
He added: "Some people now don't care about the argument or the issue, they just want to own someone, they want to win the argument."
But it's clear he can still make comedy gold in this age after his Netflix series After Life was praised for his humour and storyline.
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