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About Life’s Too Short

Life's Too Short with Ricky Gervais Warwick Davis and Stephen MerchantThis is the Wikipedia entry for Life’s Too Short as of 02/04/2011

Life’s Too Short is a BBC2 television observational comedy sitcom series currently in development. It is created and written by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, and is described by Gervais as about “the life of a showbiz dwarf”, with Warwick Davis playing a fictionalised version of himself. Gervais and Merchant will appear in cameos as themselves.

Genesis

The genesis of the show came when Davis worked with Gervais and Merchant in an episode of the second series of Extras, when he co-starred with Daniel Radcliffe. During filming, Davis told the pair of the trials of life for a man of 3 feet 6 inches in height, such as having to use a broom handle to reach objects on the high shelves in supermarkets, and people touching him for luck as if he were a leprechaun. Gervais told reporters: “I’d been thinking about doing something with a midget since seeing The Wizard of Oz again a few years ago. Then we met Warwick during Extras. The real Warwick tells us these great stories. They’re comedy gold.” Stephen Merchant commented of Davis that “he helped create the idea and came to us with the story.”

Gervais and Merchant approached the BBC about developing a show centred on a character based on Davis.

Gervais described it as “A cross between Extras and Curb your Enthusiasm and One Foot in the Grave but with a dwarf. That is out and out funny.” In an interview with Entertainment Weekly he elaborated: “It’s a single camera sitcom following the trials and tribulations of ‘Warwick Davis, showbiz dwarf. Warwick is playing a twisted version of himself. He’s quite conceited and arrogant and manipulative. And he runs a [small person] talent agency, which he does in real life. Me and Steve Merchant pop up as ourselves, just to add some realism. Warwick comes round and says, ‘Doing any more Extras? Got any work?’ And we go, ‘Ooh, no, not really.’ And we try to get rid of him. It’s fantastic. We did some casting today. I’m off to America for some shows and then I come back after that and we shoot a little pilot, just like we did with The Office ten years ago, and then we’ll see.” In an interview with Jonathan Ross, Davis said that his character is egotistical and suffers from small man syndrome, while Gervais said of the character “he refuses to live his life as a disabled person. We’re making him empowered but also give him these foibles”. He also described it as “Third in our trilogy of TV sitcoms … another naturalist observational comedy, dealing with everyday problems, human foibles and social faux pas … but with a dwarf.”

Development

Gervais first mentioned Life’s Too Short on his blog in February 2010, when he and Merchant were writing and casting the project. The pilot for the comedy was commissioned by the BBC in April 2010. Gervais reported on progress in his blog. In April 2010 he stated: “Some reports are saying that the “Life’s Too Short” pilot we are shooting in the summer will be aired. It wont. It is a non-broadcast pilot. We will shoot the whole series before anything is aired. We’re not sure how many eps [episodes] we will record (probably 6) and not sure when the series will air.”

Gervais wrote on his blog in June 2010 “Found the last location today for Life’s Too Short. It feels great doing this project. Just like The Office and Extras. Starting from scratch, just me and Steve in a room crafting a brand new show. It doesn’t get better than that for me.” He later wrote that filming of the pilot was undertaken in June and July 2010, with guest appearances by Tracey Emin, Cheryl Baker, Nicholas Parsons and Brian Sewell, and filmed at, among other locations, Wantage, Blackgang Chine and Pinewood Studios. Gervais commented in July 2010 “Finished the pilot for Life’s Too Short too. Just have to write the series now”. The series will be produced by Charlie Hanson, who previously produced Extras, and Michelle Farr. The series is executive produced by Gervais and Merchant along with Mark Freeland. On 17 September 2010 the BBC announced, via the BBC Two Contoller Janice Hadlow, and the Controller of BBC Comedy Commissioning Cheryl Taylor, that the six-part series has been commissioned and will be filmed in 2011.

In June 2010, while talking at the Banff World Television Festival, Gervais described Life’s Too Short as “the funniest thing we’ve done.” Gervais told The Hollywood Reporter “We’re having so much fun working with Warwick. Pound for pound he is one of the funniest men I know.” Stephen Merchant said of Davis: “Warwick is very funny, a very physical comedian which we really made use of … He’s very charismatic, very charming in it … I was really pleased. He’s a real comic star in waiting.”

Gervais reported in his blog on the progress of writing Life’s Too Short throughout November 2010: “Had a great week writing Life’s Too Short. It’s the hardest bit, the most important bit and the most invigorating bit”, and in a later entry “Wrote one of the funniest sketches we’ve ever done for Life’s Too Short. Six hours hard labour for a potential two minutes screen time.” In January 2011 he reported that he was still working on the scripts for the show, and in February that he and Merchant were trying to finish writing Life’s Too Short.
The owner of a house used as a location for the pilot commented on the BBC Radio 4 programme Broadcasting House on 30 January 2011 that a scene filmed there had involved Davis and a dog-sized pet flap, and in a February 2011 filmed conversation with American comedian Jerry Seinfeld, Gervais told him that he wanted him to appear in Life’s Too Short as a version of himself, playing “quite a whiny Upper East Side Jewish guy”.

In March 2011 Gervais reported on his blog “Getting ready to film Life’s Too Short.” Stephen Merchant confirmed that filming would begin in May 2011. Confirmed cast members include Johnny Depp and Jo Enright, who plays Warwick Davis’ wife. Boxer Mike Tyson also asked Gervais to consider casting him in a role.

On 31 March 2001 Gervais confirmed on his blog that “We’ve basically got first drafts of all seven episodes of Life’s Too Short now. Yes seven!”. As the pilot has already been filmed, and an extra six episodes were proposed when the series was commissioned, it is unclear whether the seven plus pilot will bring the total number of episodes to eight, or whether the pilot was rewritten and is included in the seven total.