SINCE he first stepped into the limelight a decade ago, Ricky Gervais has become adept at dealing with criticism.
"The first reviews for The Office were awful,’’ he says of the mockumentary which made his name in 2001. "They used the phrase 'summer stinker' I seem to remember.’’ Although his brand of humour may be of the Marmite variety, his star has since risen to a stratospheric level.
He has a trophy cabinet full of Baftas, is renowned on both sides of the Atlantic and has presented the Golden Globes three times.
It's not surprising, then, that Gervais is expecting a negative reaction to his latest mockumentary, Derek, which has a one-off showing on Channel 4 this month.
Set in an old people's home, it follows the lives of those who live and work there, with the camera guided by Gervais as Derek, a care assistant who outwardly appears to have learning difficulties.
"I would be confused if no one attacked me about this,’’ he says. "Every week has been the end of my career for the last 20 years. I mean, I started with a backlash. But what can you do? If you started making it for reviews or awards, or the public, you'd never get anywhere.”