The Office creators Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant have unveiled their next comedy project - a sitcom about film and TV extras.

The pair have killed off the show that made them household names - a satirical account of office life in England - after just two series, insisting they wanted to move onto other projects.

Gervais, who picked up two Golden Globe Awards after The Office won over American audiences, says new show EXTRAS was inspired by comedians he enjoyed as a child, including Phil Silvers and Bob Hope.

He explains, "It is set in the green room for supporting actors in films, who get GBP56 for walking behind the stars and then they bitch about the stars. They sit around bitching about everything.

"My character is an extra because he's too lazy to try, he's a moaner who laughs in the face of adversity, he's just getting through.

"I think there's a lot of mileage in this character.

"I've always liked wise-cracking. I want this to be a throwback. I was brought up on characters like BILKO and Bob Hope. They laughed in the face of adversity and were full of wicked put downs."

Gervais and Merchant have yet to secure a TV deal for the series - but it is likely to be snapped up by the BBC, who made The Office a success on both sides of the Atlantic.

18/03/2004 21:18