Ricky Gervais has denied that his upcoming comedy Derek makes fun of disabled people.

The Office star plays a care assistant in his latest one-off mockumentary Derek, to be shown this month on Channel 4. “I think it’s time to have an antidote to fame, I just want to do normal people again,” said Ricky, who turned 50 last summer.

“People assume my work is always meant to be outrageous and cynical but it’s never been. There were always happy endings in The Office and Extras. So this is all about kindness and forgotten people on the periphery of society.”

Ricky also denied that Derek, who believes the ‘documentary’ being filmed in an old people’s home is actually an episode of Secret Millionaire, and who talks in a slow way with his mouth gaping, is disabled.

“He’s not that bright, but he’s cleverer than Baldrick. He hasn’t got as big a problem as Mr effing Bean,” Ricky said. “I’ve never thought of him as disabled. When I portray a disabled person, I get the person with that disability to play them, so the wheelchair-bound woman in The Office was an actress who uses a wheelchair and there was a guy with Down’s Syndrome in Extras.” The programme co-stars his best friend Karl Pilkington in his first acting role as the old people’s home’s slightly dour caretaker Dougie, and comic Kerry Godliman as care worker Hannah. “The difference between this and other sitcoms I’ve done is there’s no real veil of irony, people are saying exactly what they mean,” Ricky said.

–Hello Magazine