Ricky Gervais only has to sneeze and he causes controversy, and his projects always seem to divide critical opinion. His mockumentary-style series Derek has indeed attracted a lot of criticism, with some claiming that Gervais cruelly portrays a man with learning difficulties. Gervais has fervently rejected this, and the show has gained a mass of fans nonetheless. Derek Noakes is a kind, loyal animal-lover, and a very endearing character who deeply cares for the residents of Broad Hill nursing home where he works. He’s back for another series, joined by his lovely boss Hannah (Kerry Godliman), the cynical caretaker Dougie (Karl Pilkington) and his eccentric housemate Kev (David Earl).
Derek is the same as ever, and the awkward speech and twitchy mannerisms that characterise him haven’t gone anywhere, nor has his obsession with animals or his care for the residents of the home. Derek’s previously estranged father who reduced viewers to tears last year has now moved into Broad Hill, attempting to build a relationship with his son. The series has maintained its focus on the elderly and how they can be ignored and forgotten by their families, which is one of the strengths of the show.
Kev’s sexual comments have only increased in vulgarity, and are often more uncomfortable than they are funny. His addiction to Special Brew has worsened, which was evident in the fact that he slurped some that had been spilled on the carpet. Karl Pilkington’s character Dougie is miserable and brutally honest as ever, and although his scenes are usually short, he brings a lot of humour to the show. Unfortunately we will no longer be able to look forward to his rants, as Karl Pilkington decided to leave the series. Hannah interviewed for another caretaker to replace Dougie and Kev applied for the job, even attending a single AA meeting in order to clean his act up. Unsurprisingly, he reverted back to Special Brew when he didn’t get the position.
One of the only glimmers of happiness so far in the series is that Hannah and Tom are trying for a baby. However, their attempts to conceive are mostly during Hannah’s breaks at the nursing home, which is just odd. Why would they nip upstairs to make a baby, or do it in a caravan situated in the nursing home car park? Derek even made an ovulation chart and pinned it to the office wall, should any of the residents care to keep track of the couple’s progress. Incidents like these make me wonder what the point of the show is. At times Gervais seems to be highlighting largely ignored issues in society, but occasionally there are inconsistencies that don’t appear to make any sense. Let’s just hope that the remaining episodes have more direction.