I’ve got to admit when I watched the first episode of series 1 of Derek I felt a little uncomfortable. I wasn’t quite sure what I was watching, if I should laugh or if I should turn over in disgust. I should’ve known better but on first appearances it seemed as though Ricky was taking the mickey out of those with learning disabilities. My teenage son is autistic so of course this didn’t sit well.
It didn’t take long though to realise that what he was doing was the complete opposite. Like my son, Derek is pure, innocent and untainted. He’s blind to people’s misgivings and sees only the good in life. He takes our world and turns it on its head, shakes out all the unnecessary garbage and leaves it encased in a soft fluffy shell of friendship, love, hugs, laughter and baby bunnies. The fact I found Derek difficult to watch says more about me, maybe it was a little close to the bone, now though I look forward to it every week.
Along with the great acting, Derek has become a weekly reminder of what’s really important in life, with a few giggles thrown in along the way. Ricky has also captured the old people’s home atmosphere perfectly as it transports me straight back to when my grandparents were alive. The only thing missing here is a tyrant of a care assistant, a know it all that likes to boss around the residents and the families. It goes without saying that Kerry Godliman is incredible in this, and has the most believable sympathetic face I’ve seen alongside a comic timing that’s simply amazing.
The Missing Extras
Kevin is an all too familiar sight. When visiting my gran or granddad there was always a group of hangers on such as:
- The alcoholic pervert – Ricky has this down to a tee.
- The Jehovah’s witness
- The Provi Man come to collect the weekly instalments
- The kid that’s doing odd jobs
- The other relative that has nothing better to do so just hangs about
- The neighbour who considers themselves family and who is always around when dinners ready
- The very loud friend who always knows best and speaks for the old person as if they haven’t a voice of their own (especially good at berating family for not visiting enough etc.)
Then there was Karl, his acting was so good it made me wonder. Where all the Idiot Abroad’s scripted?
Regardless, they were amazing and now I’ve stopped marvelling at his hair, Karl is pretty cool in this too.
Like the social media video that’s telling people to look up from their phones, Derek is a must see for everyone. Inspiring, humbling, heart warming and funny, it makes you realise just how fragile life is while highlighting what’s important. We could all learn lessons from Derek.
Right after we published this review, almost in minutes, Ricky Gervais put out a Facebook post to tell everyone how he came up with the characters. Apparently they’re not family members but friends instead, he actually had a friend just like Kevin at school!