Gervais worked initially in the music industry, attempting a career as a pop star in the 1980s as the singer of the new wave act Seona Dancing and working as the manager of the then-unknown band Suede before turning to comedy. Gervais appeared on The 11 O'Clock Show on Channel 4 between 1998 and 2000. In 2000, he was given a Channel 4 talk show, Meet Ricky Gervais, and then achieved greater mainstream fame a year later with his BBC television series The Office. It was followed by Extras in 2005. He co-wrote and co-directed both series with Stephen Merchant. In addition to writing and directing the shows, he played the lead roles of David Brent in The Office and Andy Millman in Extras. He reprised his role as Brent in the comedy film Life on the Road.
Gervais has won seven BAFTA Awards, five British Comedy Awards, three Golden Globe Awards, two Emmy Awards, and the 2006 Rose d'Or, as well as a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination. In a 2004 poll for the BBC, he was named the third most influential person in British culture. In 2007 he was voted the 11th greatest stand-up comic on Channel 4's 100 Greatest Stand-Ups and again in the updated 2010 list as the 3rd greatest stand-up comic. In 2010 he was named on the Time 100 list of the world's most influential people.
Gervais was born at Battle Hospital in Reading. He was raised in Whitley, along with brother Larry (born 1945), sister Marsha (born 1948), and brother Robert (born 1950). His father, Lawrence Raymond "Jerry" Gervais (1919–2002), a Franco-Ontarian from Pain Court, Ontario, emigrated while on foreign duty during the Second World War and worked as a labourer and hod carrier. He met Gervais's mother, Eva Sophia (née House; 1925–2000), who was English, during a blackout; they settled in Whitley. She died, aged 74, of lung cancer.
He attended Whitley Park Infants and Junior Schools, and received his secondary education at Ashmead Comprehensive School; after a spell as a gardener at the town's university, he moved on to University College London in 1980. He intended to study biology but changed to philosophy after two weeks, and earned an upper second-class honours degree in the subject. During his time at UCL, he met Jane Fallon, with whom he has been in a relationship since 1982. He is the former boss of Coldplay drummer Will Champion.
In 1983, during his final year as a student at UCL (University College London), Gervais and college friend Bill Macrae formed the new wave pop duo, Seona Dancing. They were signed by London Records, which released two of their singles—"More to Lose" and "Bitter Heart". The songs failed to chart inside the UK top 75. Despite not being successful in the UK, Seona Dancing did manage to score a hit in the Philippines with "More to Lose". He also worked as the manager for Suede before they became successful in the 1990s.
In 2013, Gervais performed a live tour as David Brent along with a band under the name "Foregone Conclusion". Gervais and the band performed songs written under the Brent character including songs such as "Equality Street" and "Free Love Freeway". Gervais also produced a series of YouTube videos under the title 'Learn Guitar with David Brent', featuring acoustic guitar versions of nine songs.
In 2016, as part of the 'Life on Road' film promotion, Gervais published the 'David Brent Songbook' containing 15 songs. These were also recorded for the album 'Life on the road', under the name of David Brent and Foregone Conclusion.
Gervais later worked as an assistant events manager for the University of London Union (ULU), then moved from ULU to a job as head of speech at the alternative radio station Xfm. Needing an assistant, Gervais interviewed the first person whose curriculum vitae he saw. It belonged to Stephen Merchant. In 1998 Gervais was made redundant when the station was taken over by the Capital Radio group. Around this time he was also a regular contributor to Mary Anne Hobbs' Radio 1 show, performing vox pop interviews in unlikely locations.
After the first series of The Office, Gervais and Merchant returned to Xfm in November 2001 for a Saturday radio show. This was when the pair first worked with Karl Pilkington, who produced the shows and later collaborated with them on their series of podcasts.
On 5 December 2005, Guardian Unlimited began offering free weekly podcasts - The Ricky Gervais Show featuring Gervais, Merchant, and Karl Pilkington. Throughout January and February 2006 the podcast was consistently ranked the number-one podcast in the world; it appeared in the 2007 Guinness World Record for the world's most-downloaded podcast, having gained an average of 261,670 downloads per episode during its first month. Two more series—each with six podcasts—were released between February and September 2006.
In late 2006, three more free podcasts were released. Together called "The Podfather Trilogy", they debuted individually at Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. These three were known by Ricky and Steve as "The Fourth Season". In October 2007 another free full-length podcast was released through iTunes; this podcast was originally given out for free during a performance of Gervais' Fame tour in London. On 25 November 2007 Gervais, Merchant and Pilkington released another free full-length podcast, which lasted just over an hour.
In August 2008, Gervais, Merchant and Pilkington recorded their fifth season of audiobooks, totalling 4 chapters, which were released on 16 September 2008. These audiobooks were described as the 'guide to...' series, covering several topics. As of May 2011, there are 12 "Guides" in total: Medicine, Natural History, Arts, Philosophy, The English, Society, Law & Order, The Future, The Human Body, The Earth, The World Cup 2010 & Comic Relief. The conversations typically begin on topic, but constantly stray away from the topic at hand.
Gervais has contributed to the BAFTA-winning The Sketch Show (ITV), penning several sketches. His mainstream-TV debut came in September 1998 as part of Channel 4's "Comedy Lab" series of pilots. His one-off show Golden Years focused on a David Bowie–obsessed character called Clive Meadows.
Gervais then came to much wider national attention with an obnoxious, cutting persona featured in a topical slot that replaced Ali G's segments on the satirical Channel 4 comedy programme The 11 O'Clock Show in early 1999, in which his character used as many expletives as was possible and produced an inordinate amount of politically incorrect statements. Among the other regular featured comedians on the show was Mackenzie Crook, later a co-star of The Office. Two years later, Gervais went on to present his own comedy chat show for Channel 4 called Meet Ricky Gervais; it was poorly received and has since been mocked by Gervais himself.
Throughout this time, Gervais also wrote for the BBC sketch show Bruiser and The Jim Tavare Show.
The Office started when Stephen Merchant, while on a BBC production course, had to make his own short film. In August 1999 he made a docu-soap parody, set in an office, with help from Ash Atalla, who was shown a 7-minute video called 'The Seedy Boss', thus David Brent was created, Merchant passed this tape on to the BBC's Head of Entertainment Paul Jackson at the Edinburgh Fringe, who then passed it on to Head of Comedy Jon Plowman, who eventually commissioned a full-pilot script from Merchant and Gervais.
The first six-episode series of The Office aired in the UK in July and August 2001 to little fanfare or attention. Word-of-mouth, repeats, and DVDs helped spread the word, building up momentum and anticipation for the second series, also comprising six episodes. Following the success of The Office's second series, Gervais was named the most powerful person in TV comedy by Radio Times.
In 2004, The Office won the Golden Globes for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy and Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy for Gervais, who said in an 2015 BBC interview that the award was the gateway to America for him.
The Office brand has since been remade for audiences in Sweden, France, Germany, Quebec, Brazil and the United States. Gervais and Merchant are producers of the American version, and they also co-wrote the episode "The Convict" for the show's third season. Gervais has said that the episode "Training" is his favourite, where Brent plays his guitar and sings.
Extras had its debut on the BBC on 21 July 2005; directed by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, the sitcom ran for twelve episodes and starred Gervais as Andy Millman, a background artist. Millman is more self-aware and intentionally humorous than Gervais' The Office character David Brent. Guest stars on the first series of Extras include Ross Kemp, Les Dennis, Patrick Stewart, Vinnie Jones, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Stiller, Kate Winslet and Francesca Martinez. A second series began on 14 September 2006 in the UK and featured appearances by Daniel Radcliffe, Dame Diana Rigg, Orlando Bloom, Sir Ian McKellen, Chris Martin, Keith Chegwin, Robert Lindsay, Warwick Davis, Ronnie Corbett, Stephen Fry, Richard Briers, Patricia Potter, Sophia Myles, Moira Stuart, David Bowie, Kate Winslet, Robert De Niro and Jonathan Ross.
A Christmas special of Extras aired on 27 December 2007 in the UK and on 16 December 2007 in the US, featuring guest appearances by George Michael, Clive Owen, Gordon Ramsay, Jonathan Ross and David Tennant.
Gervais was influenced by Curb Your Enthusiasm, in making Extras, particularly in the format of celebrities making fools of themselves or subverting their public personas.
In 2007, Gervais won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for his portrayal of Andy Millman in the second series of Extras. As Gervais was not present at the awards ceremony, the trophy was accepted on his behalf by Steve Carell, the actor who starred as regional manager Michael Scott - the counterpart to Gervais' David Brent - on the American adaptation of The Office.
The Guardian's Chris Tryhorn explained the "few gripes" he had with Extras, "particularly in the second series". "You can forgive Gervais a certain arrogance after the success of The Office, but..." He remarks on the confused tone of the series, taking in the clash between the broad comedy of characters Barry (Shaun Williamson) and Darren (Stephen Merchant), and the apparent parody of this style with When The Whistle Blows, and "given their total indulgence of Gervais, the BBC is portrayed as interfering, its comedy department run by a rather crudely stereotyped gay couple".
The Ricky Gervais Show is an animated TV show that debuted on US cable network HBO on 19 February 2010. In the UK, the first series began airing on 23 April 2010 on Channel 4. The show was developed using original podcast recordings from The Ricky Gervais Show starring Gervais, Stephen Merchant, and Karl Pilkington. After receiving a loyal and enthusiastic following in the US, cable channel HBO recommissioned the show for a second series, which aired in 2011, and a third series which started airing in April 2012.
Life's Too Short began airing on BBC Two on 10 November 2011. Gervais and Stephen Merchant would write this observational sitcom from an idea by Warwick Davis. It is described by Gervais as being about "the life of a showbiz dwarf" and as "a cross between Extras and The Office". The show stars actor Davis playing a fictionalized version of himself, as well as Gervais and Merchant. Premium cable channel HBO, who co-produced the series with the BBC, had the US rights and began airing the series on 19 February 2012.
An Idiot Abroad is a travel documentary produced by Gervais and Merchant where a reluctant Pilkington travels around the world and his reactions to people and places is recorded. Occasionally, Gervais and Merchant call him to surprise him with a new place to visit or a task to do. Pilkington reports back to them and mostly complains about the situation he is in. Gervais said there is no planning, a camera crew follows his friend around recording many hours of film which Gervais edits down to about an hour each episode.
To date two series and a Christmas special have aired, series one involves Pilkington visiting the Seven Wonders of the World, in the second show he chooses to complete tasks from a bucket list provided by Gervais and in the special Warwick Davis joins Pilkington on a journey following Marco Polo's route from Italy to China.
In November 2011, Gervais filmed in London a 35-minute pilot episode for a potential comedy-drama series called Derek, which aired on Channel 4 on 12 April 2012. The pilot is solely written and directed by Gervais and features him in the title role of Derek Noakes, a 49-year-old retirement home worker, who "loves animals, Rolf Harris, Jesus, Deal or No Deal, Million Pound Drop and Britain's Got Talent. The character first appeared in a 2001 Edinburgh Festival Fringe sketch as an aspiring comedian who loves animals and still lives with his mother. Gervais' co-host Karl Pilkington makes his acting debut as Derek's friend and facilities-caretaker Dougie who also works in the retirement home. British comedian Kerry Godliman plays Derek's best friend Hannah and David Earl plays Kev.
Gervais said that the series is about "kindness [being] more important than anything else". He added "It’s about the forgotten – everyone's forgotten. It’s all these arbitrary people who didn’t know each other, and they’re in there now because they’re in the last years of their life. And it’s about the people who help them, who themselves are losers and have their own problems. It’s about a bunch of people with nothing, but making the most of it, and they’re together." He chose to set the sitcom in a retirement home after he watched Secret Millionaire – "It was always these people with huge problems who were helping other people. I thought about having Derek help old people because no one cares about old people in this country... I think it's perfect for now."
Channel 4 commissioned a full series of Derek that aired in early 2013. Derek was re-commissioned for a second series which premiered on 23 April 2014. Derek ended with a one-off final special, broadcast on Channel 4 in the UK 22 December 2014.
Gervais made some unsuccessful attempts at stand-up in the late 1990s; his first successful show took place at the Cafe Royal, as part of the 2001 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Titled Rubbernecker, the show also featured Jimmy Carr, Robin Ince and Stephen Merchant.
Gervais later toured the UK in 2003 with his stand-up show Animals. The Politics tour followed a year later. Both of these shows were recorded for release on DVD and television broadcast. The third part of the themed live trilogy, Fame, took place in 2007. It started in Glasgow in January and ended in Sheffield in April. Blackpool reported selling out of tickets within 45 minutes of them going on sale. More dates were added.
Newsnight Review's panel saw Animals during its Bloomsbury run and covered it in January 2003. They were not favourable, with Private Eye editor Ian Hislop saying it was "cobbled together...banal...a bit flat". After this, Gervais closed each show by calling Hislop an "ugly little pug-faced cunt".
Fame was the subject of some controversy in January 2007 when Gervais told a story, ostensibly about how people will do anything to become famous, referring to the murder of prostitutes in Ipswich.
Gervais' fourth show was entitled Science, and commenced with an eleven-date tour in August 2009 at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre in Glasgow. The DVD for Science was released on 15 November 2010. In November 2009 he headlined the sixth annual New York Comedy Festival at Carnegie Hall.
In 2013, Gervais announced that his next stand up show will be called Humanity. In December 2014, he said he was too busy to do his tour due to producing two films.
In May 2016, Gervais was back doing stand up in London, starting with some low key warm-ups with his Derek cast. He said, “Finally, I'm going to do some stand-up. The first in about six years if you don't count hosting the Golden Globes."
One of the first animations Gervais voiced was the character of Penguin in Robbie the Reindeer's Legend of the Lost Tribe.
Gervais guest-starred in an episode of The Simpsons entitled "Homer Simpson, This Is Your Wife". He is the only British comic to write and star in a Simpsons episode. The episode was the highest rated in Sky One's history; it revolved around the angle that Gervais was the episode's sole writer (and the first guest star on the show to also receive a writing credit for the episode of his appearance). Gervais clarified the extent of his input in a joint interview (with Christopher Guest) for Dazed and Confused magazine (January 2006): "No, all I did was put down a load of observations on an email and they made it look like a Simpsons script. I'm going to get the credit, but I think everyone in the industry knows it was a joint effort". Asked in a separate interview about how his idea for the episode (in which Homer swaps Marge on a game show) came about, Gervais replied:
I've always been fascinated with reality game shows but I think it was my girlfriend's idea. We watch Celebrity Big Brother at the moment, we watch I'm a Celebrity, Get Me out of Here... we watch all those reality TV shows — The Office came out of those docu-soaps".
Gervais, a longstanding Simpsons fan, presented a segment to mark the show's 20th anniversary on BBC Two's The Culture Show on 16 June 2007.
In 2012, Gervais made a guest appearance on Family Guy in the episode titled "Be Careful What You Fish For". In the episode, Gervais plays a dolphin named Billy Finn who gives Peter Griffin a Mercedes-Benz hood ornament, Peter half-heartedly promises a favor to him. Soon, Billy moves to Quahog but outstays his welcome at Peter's. Peter tries to reunite Billy with his ex-wife in hopes that he will return to the ocean. The episode also featured Lucy Davis. Both Gervais and Davis starred together in The Office.
Guest star on television series
Gervais had a cameo role in Simon Pegg's and Jessica Hynes's sitcom Spaced, as Dave, an estate agent who mistakenly placed the advertisement for a property for a couple that turns out to be the premise of the show.
In season 8 episode 6 The Hero of the HBO series Curb Your Enthusiasm, Gervais was a guest at Larry David's dinner table. He played a version of himself, an egocentic self-promoting actor that annoyed David's character who was desperate for attention.
Gervais has also guest-starred on Alias (appearing in the third-season episode "Façade") as Daniel Ryan, a former Royal Navy bomb-disposal specialist turned rogue Irish Republican Army bomb-maker.
Louis C.K. had Gervais play Dr. Ben, his doctor on two episodes of his series Louie. Gervais would break into his trademark hysterical laugh every time his character made Louie the butt of a joke.
Early in 2015, Gervais guest starred in Galavant, a four-week comedy mini-series, as Xanax the magician. The show aired on ABC and Gervais got to show off his singing skills.
Gervais made a cameo appearance on Saturday Night Live in a Digital Short during which he joked that The Office was adapted from a Japanese programme of the same name (with Steve Carell reprising his role as Michael Scott). The sketch re-creates scenes from the American and British pilot episode with Japanese elements (although in an exaggerated way). "It's funny", Gervais laughs at the end, "because it's racist".
Gervais hosted the 67th, 68th, 69th and 73rd Golden Globe Awards, his appearance in 2010 made him the first master of ceremonies since 1995. He stated:
"I have resisted many other offers like this, but there are just some things you don't turn down."
His performance as host received a mixed response with positive reviews from the New York Daily News and the Associated Press, but also some negative comments from The Hollywood Reporter. His 2011 hosting of the awards was controversial for his edgy jokes that were at the expense of many of the nominees, similar to the New York Friars Club roast style jokes. His jibes were described as setting "a corrosive tone" by one critic, though some celebrities were seen crying from laughter, leaving the overall reaction to be 'mixed'. Gervais responded, "They are my friends, but I had to play the outsider."
Gervais was a guest judge on Jerry Seinfeld's NBC show The Marriage Ref alongside Larry David and Madonna.
Talking Funny, which first aired on 28 April 2011, starred Gervais and fellow standup comedians Louis C.K., Chris Rock, and Jerry Seinfeld, they had an informal round-table discussion on standup comedy. This one off HBO special was well received by critics & audience alike.
In 2013, Gervais guest starred in David Blaine: Real or Magic, a television special where Blaine proceeded to run a large needle through his forearm in front of Gervais.
In January 2006, Gervais interviewed Larry David in a one-off special, Ricky Gervais Meets... Larry David. On 25 and 26 December of the same year Channel 4 aired similar specials in which he interviewed the actor/comedian Christopher Guest and comedian Garry Shandling. There are no plans for further episodes of Meets..., although editions with John Cleese and Matt Groening were recorded in 2006 for broadcast in 2007. A source claimed, "The Shandling experience put him off for good".
In January 2009, Gervais was a guest on BravoTV Inside the Actors Studio season 15 with James Lipton, where at one point of the interview he answered Lipton's question as David Brent his character from The Office. Brent obliged the audience by singing his song "Freelove Freeway" with a guitar supplied to him by Lipton.
Gervais has been on The Late Show with David Letterman 26 times. In 2008, he helped Letterman read out the Late Show Top Ten List, Top Ten Stupid Things Americans Say To Brits. In mid 2014, upon hearing that Letterman was up for retirement, Gervais jokingly tried to discourage him by suggesting they go on a road trip where they would spend all their money.
The Graham Norton Show based in UK has invited Gervais many times over the years. He has been on Norton's couch with Stephen Merchant, the co-creator & co-writer of The Office, to promote Cemetery Junction. Another time, he was there to talk about his series Life's Too Short and Johnny Depp who was there to promote his own film was also present.
Gervais is one of two featured comedians (the other being Katt Williams) in the video game Grand Theft Auto IV who performs at the Split Sides comedy club on the virtual stand-up stage and as an interviewee on the in game radio station We Know The Truth. For the stand-up bit a special 3-minute act was written, recorded and fully motion-captured.
Gervais released a children's book in 2004, Flanimals (illustrated by Rob Steen), which depicted nonsense animals. After the success of this book, he released its sequel More Flanimals in 2005, with Flanimals of the Deep coming the next year. A new Flanimals book, Flanimals: The Day of the Bletchling, was released in October 2007. Flanimals: Pop Up was also published in 2009. There is a wide range of Flanimals merchandise available, including dolls and gift cards.
The Office scripts have been released in book form, with Series 1 issued in 2002, and the remaining episodes following in 2003. Extras: The Illustrated Scripts: Series 1 & 2 has been released, as well.
The World of Karl Pilkington presented by Gervais and Merchant. These were essentially transcripts of Xfm shows podcasts and featured illustrations by Pilkington.
Gervais' film career has included small roles as the voice of a pigeon Bugsy, in 2005's Valiant, as a studio executive in 2006's For Your Consideration, as museum director Dr. McPhee in 2006's Night at the Museum and its sequels Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian and Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, and as "Ferdy the Fence" in the 2007 film Stardust.
Gervais starred in Ghost Town as a dentist who sees spirits, and was in Lowell, Massachusetts during May 2008 filming his next project, The Invention of Lying, which he starred in along with, Jennifer Garner, Rob Lowe and Louis C.K.. The social comedy, was co-written and co-directed by Gervais and Matt Robinson.
Gervais and co-writer Stephen Merchant made a film called Cemetery Junction, set in 1970s Britain, about class, love and fulfilment. The film was released in April 2010.
Gervais directed and starred in, Special Correspondents, which began filming in May 2015. The comedy stars Eric Bana as a journalist and Gervais as his assistant. They pretend to report news from a war torn country but in actuality they are safe in New York. The film was released on Netflix. Gervais will direct and star in an upcoming film, Life on the Road, is a mockumentary following David Brent, a character first seen in The Office series, as he lives his dream of being a rockstar. On 5 November 2015 Gervais signed up to play Ika Chu, a villainous cat, in an animated film Blazing Samurai. The movie is about a dog Hank played by Michael Cera who wants to be a warrior and fights with Ika Chu for the town of Kakamucho.
On 2 July 2005, Gervais appeared at the Live 8 event held in London's Hyde Park, where he performed his famous dance.
On 1 July 2007, Gervais performed at the Concert for Diana in Wembley Stadium, a music event celebrating the life of Princess Diana 10 years after her death. Towards the end of the event—after a pre-recorded introduction from Ben Stiller—Gervais appeared along with fellow Office star Mackenzie Crook. They performed "Free Love Freeway", a song previously heard in the fourth episode of series one of The Office. Due to a technical problem, Gervais then had to fill time until he was able to re-introduce Elton John to close the show, so he did the David Brent dance again, as well as singing the "Little Fat Man" song as performed by David Bowie in episode two of the second series of Extras.
In July 2007, following Gervais' appearance at the memorial concert for the Princess of Wales, The Guardian ran a column by Daily Mirror television critic Jim Shelley entitled "Call Me Crazy... But Has Ricky Gervais Lost It?", where he described Gervais as a "tiresome embarrassment". The following week, The Guardian noted that Gervais had responded with "an exhilaratingly foul-mouthed tirade" on his website, concluding with the sentence "yes I am resting on my fucking laurels you cunt!" In this video, Gervais mocked Jim Shelley typing the words "resting on his laurels" as Gervais jokingly lashed out by stating that he was resting on his laurels and that he was not going to make another show for television, quipping: "What's the point? What is there to beat?"
Gervais lives in Hampstead, having moved from Bloomsbury, with his partner, producer and author Jane Fallon, whom he has been with since 1982. He says they chose not to marry because "there's no point in us having an actual ceremony before the eyes of God because there is no God" or have children because they "didn't fancy dedicating 16 years of our lives. And there are too many children, of course".
Gervais is a staunch supporter of gay rights and has praised the introduction of same sex marriage in England and Wales, calling it "a victory for all of us" and stated "anything that promotes equality, promotes progress." He added: "You can't take equality 'too far'."
Gervais is an atheist and a humanist, and states he abandoned Christianity at the age of eight. In December 2010, he wrote an editorial for The Wall Street Journal defending his atheism. He is a patron of the British Humanist Association, a British charity which promotes the humanist worldview and campaigns for a secular state and on human rights issues.
Gervais is a music fan and has stated that his hero is David Bowie, and his favourite song "Letter to Hermione". He has also stated that his first experience of a live music gig was watching Iggy Pop. In 2013, he wrote that Lou Reed was "One of the greatest artists of our time" following his death.
In June 2017, Gervais endorsed Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn in the 2017 UK general election. He tweeted: "OK. I'm not telling you how to vote, but this is a fact. The only vote that will keep Theresa May out is a vote for @jeremycorbyn. Cheers."
He joined Twitter in December 2009 when he first hosted the 66th Golden Globes. After a two-year hiatus, he returned in September 2011. In 2012, Gervais won a Shorty Award for Lifetime Achievement for his popular presence on social media. As of March 2015 he was followed by 7 million fans whom he calls 'Twonks'.
He uses social media to promote his work to his fans. After 10 years Gervais brought back his character Brent on his YouTube channel in a web series Learn Guitar with David Brent. Gervais uses many ways to promote his new series, for example for Derek, he posts contests or questions for his fans.
Gervais uses social media to raise awareness of animal welfare. He tweets links to petitions to rescue animals from captivity, he highlights the plight of animals being used for testing, and he encourages people to adopt dogs instead of buying them from breeders. Gervais won the Genesis Award from the Humane Society in March 2015 for his contribution to raising awareness for animal welfare on social media.
In 2014, he was named most influential London Twitter user.
In 2002, Gervais took part in a charity boxing match against Grant Bovey, for the UK charity telethon Comic Relief. He was trained for the three-round contest by famous boxing trainer brothers Frank and Eugene Maloney, at their Fight Factory gymnasium. It was the second televised charity boxing match, the first being Bob Mortimer against Les Dennis. The fight was televised by the BBC, and Gervais came out on top by a split decision verdict. He donated his £5,000 prize money to the training of a Macmillan nurse who specialise in cancer support.
Gervais is a supporter of animal rights and has stated that he will leave his fortune to animal charities. He has spoken out against fox hunting and bullfighting, and wrote to then British Prime Minister Gordon Brown urging him to stop the use of black bear fur as caps for the Foot Guards.
In 2013, Gervais was named Person of the Year by PETA for his work on curbing animal abuse. For PETA Gervais voiced a rabbit and Pink played an alligator in an awareness advertisement. Gervais named an Asian black bear, also known as a moonbear, Derek after his character Derek Noakes from his series Derek. In December 2013, Gervais bought a $1000 cake shaped like a moonbear to raise funds for Animal Asia. Gervais is active in the prevention of illegal wildlife trade; he supported the handing over of ivory trinkets to the Metropolitan police in London.
In 2015, Gervais donated a signed acoustic guitar to help raise funds for Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary in Ontario, Canada, with a special call-out to Pockets Warhol.
In 2017 Ricky was awarded the prestigious Lord Houghton Award for Service to Animal Welfare from Animal Defenders International.Time Magazine (2008). Renaissance Man: Ricky Gervais by Joel Stein
The Independent, et al. (2005). Ricky Gervais: My life as a pure superstar
The Guardian Newspaper, et al. (2005). "Second Coming" by Tim Adams
Gervais' video interview on Big Think
Video interview & acceptance speech of Ricky Gervais winning Sir Peter Ustinov Award for Comedy @2010 Banff World TV Festival