Hit show The Office graced British TV screens 20 years ago, starting off as an instant cult classic before growing to become one of the most successful international comedies of the last two decades.
Created by unknowns at the time Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, the half an hour ‘mockumentary’ followed a group of awkward, yet hilarious, co-workers at the Slough branch of the Wernham Hogg paper company.
Ricky revealed that he “didn’t have huge ambitions” for the low-budget two-series sitcom initially — which is ironic, as the show spawned huge success for him and some of his co-stars — though some haven’t been as lucky — as OK! reveals:
Get exclusive celebrity stories and fabulous photoshoots straight to your inbox with OK!’s daily newsletter. You can sign up at the top of the page.
Ricky Gervais (David Brent)
Aside from being co-creator of The Office, Ricky Gervais acted as one of the most delusional and ignorant characters to appear on screens playing the lead role of office manager David Brent.
The 60 year old won several awards for portraying the cringe-inducing character, catapulting him into the interests of American audiences as he bagged parts in Hollywood blockbusters such as Ghost Town and Night at the Museum and went on to headline several stand-up comedy shows .
Ricky continued to also write and star in TV successful shows Extras, Derek and After Life, and his most high-profile gig has been presenting at the Golden Globe Awards where he jokingly criticised the celebrity audience, garnering him praise from viewers at home.
The star brought back his Office character in 2016 in failed show David Brent: Life on the Road, after which he vowed not bring the iconic role back again as he said watching David at 60 would be “sad”.
Stephen Merchant (Nathan ‘Oggmonster’)
Stephen Merchant described The Office as “the best the thing [he’d] ever done” after initially not seeing the show as “any great revolution” although he acknowledged no program had come before like it at the time.
The 47 year old played character Nathan, aka The ‘Oggmonster’, and co-created the show with Ricky before the pair went on to work together on comedies Life’s Too Short and Extras.
After breaking away from each other professionally in 2016 citing creative differences, Stephen has continued to have a successful career in film and TV, with show Lip Sync Battle, which he co-created, still going strong and starred this year as killer as Stephen Port in BBC One’s The Barking Murders.
The show creator and actor now lives in LA with wife and American actress Mircea Monroe.
Lucy Davis (Dawn Tinsley)
Lucy Davis played loveable engaged character Dawn Tinsley in The Office who pined after colleague Tim.
Despite the chemistry of the couple onscreen, the 49 year old admitted once the show was over that the actors and the rest of the cast hadn’t kept in touch as she said: “If I ever saw any of the cast, I’d be delighted, but naturally, we fell apart.”
Lucy kickstarted her career Stateside after The Office as she moved to LA and bagged a role on US sitcom Ugly Betty and appeared in movies Shaun of the Dead and Wonder Woman as well as the Netflix series The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, more recently.
While the star has had a successful career, her personal life has struggled after divorcing from ex husband Owain Yeoman in 2018 and experiencing such health issues including bulimia, a second bout of kidney failure and Covid-19 symptoms which left her hospitalised.
Lucy is in better health now thankfully though as a recent Instagram post showed her in fit condition lifting weights.
Martin Freeman (Tim Canterbury)
Arguably The second most successful actor to come from The Office, Martin Freeman has gone to have a major career in TV and film, both nationally and internally.
The 50 year old won the hearts of viewers playing laidback sales rep Tim Canterbury and established himself as a dynamic actor following on from the show as he went on to star in TV shows Fargo and Sherlock Holmes alongside fellow Brit actor Benedict Cumberbatch and films Love Actually , The Hobbit Trilogy and more recently Marvel’s Black Panther (the sequel of which he will star in this year).
Discussing his success after The Office, Martin said: “It was the show that made the difference between people knowing who I was and not – people on buses, people on the street, and people in the industry. It meant that I had to audition a lot less.”
In 2016, Martin split from actress Amanda Abbington, with whom he shares two children and currently lives in London.
Mackenzie Crook (Gareth Keenan)
Mackenzie Crook played big-headed dorky salesman Gareth on The Office, who was often pranked on by colleague Tim.
The 50 year old has had a fully-fledging career since his breakout role, having starred in the globally successful Pirates of the Caribbean movies alongside Johnny Depp and created BBC Four comedy Detectorists which won him a BAFTA.
MacKenzie has been open about struggling with the fame since appearing on The Office as he said: “I had a neck injury, and the doctor reckoned it was a 10-year-old injury, and I couldn’t think of anything specific that I had done.
“I wondered whether it could be 10 years of hiding under a baseball cap.”
The actor currently lives in London with his wife Lindsay and their two children.
Ewen MacIntosh (Keith Bishop)
Ewen MacIntosh played accountant Keith Bishop on The Office, who was known more for eating Scotch eggs rather than speaking.
The 48-year-old actor failed to continue his success in acting after the show, securing only small appearances on Casualty, Eastenders, Come Dine With Me and The Lobster movie and was declared bankrupt in 2016 with thousands of pounds owed in tax.
Ewan experienced further bad luck after he was hospitalised this year he shared as he posted a photo online of himself being treated for a mystery condition.
Speaking on his experience being on The Office this year, he told The Sun: “I’m incredibly proud of the show – it changed my life.
“Twenty years later, I’m still acting, and I’m still mates with Ricky. We’ve kept in touch over the years. And, I will be appearing with him in series 3 of After Life.”
For more showbiz updates, sign up for OK! ‘s daily newsletter here.