I caught a few minutes of Coldplay performing live on BBC2 last night. Around 700 people were at the BBC Television Centre to watch them, joined by camera crews and helicopters.
Throughout their set, the cameras cut relentlessly to the irritating sight of Ricky Gervais grinning gormlessly in the crowd.
While at some level aware that the BBC cameraman was unable to hear me, I began an onslaught of questions. ‘Why do you keep cutting to Ricky Gervais?’, I hollered. ‘What the fuck does he have to do with Coldplay?’, I raved. I concluded that the cameraman was fulfilling the implicit demand of the viewing public.
Is it not possible for people to enjoy something unless they know Ricky Gervais is being simultaneously enriched by the same experience? Were people singing along to ‘Yellow’ only tentatively until the sight of Gervais in full-voiced accompaniment roused them into straining their vocal chords with new found enthusiasm?
I like Ricky Gervais in the sense that Extras and The Office are very entertaining, but I don’t find his mere presence at a concert sufficient reason to piss my pants with excitement. How long until the Gervais Cutaway is mandatory in any live television event to validate the tastes of the viewing public? How many commissioning editors will turn down pilot episodes on the grounds that they don’t contain a sufficient abundance of Gervais Cutaways?
If we don’t nip this worrying trend in the bud, this Gervais Cutaway situation could get out of hand. It’s terrifyingly easy to imagine a newly retired baby boomer couple sparked into conversation this way.
‘Oh, look Jean – Ricky Gervais is in the crowd of gawkers on the Antiques Road show.’
‘So he is, Terry! He’s lurking behind the George III Period Mahogany Canterbury!’
‘It was only the other day that he was in the audience of that Britain’s Got Herpes show too!’
‘Do you remember when you caught Herpes, Terry?’
But I digress.
I hereby announce the start of my ‘Limit the Gervais Cutaway To Only A Couple Of Times During Live Televised Cultural Events’ campaign. Join me while there’s still time.