As co-writer and co-director of BBC’s The Office, Stephen Merchant is best known for his collaborations with Ricky Gervais. The British writer, director, radio presenter, stand-up comedian and actor added a London West-End appearance several years ago to his CV with his first play, The Mentalists by Richard Bean, alongside Steffan Rhodri at the Wyndham Theatre.
Known for his brilliant command of the English language, who better to address America on this Fourth of July holiday and the question “What if the British won?” than the man, whom Ricky Gervais so eloquently likened to both a ‘stick insect with glasses’ and an ‘upright lizard being given electro-shock treatment’. Currently living in Los Angeles, Merchant has probably witnessed his fair share of American celebrations of Independence Day having had guest roles in Modern Family, Big Bang Theory, The Simpsons and American Dad in recent years.
One of my fondest memories of this holiday aside from the traditional growing up where the entire neighborhood gathered while every kid on the block had an arsenal of fireworks to go through before it was time to go inside was one July 4th holiday we spent in London while producing one of our PBS specials on the Funny Ladies of British Comedy.
We had just concluded our interview with Jon Plowman, then Head of Comedy Entertainment at the BBC, when he recognized that it was the Fourth of July and that, as Americans, we probably would be looking for something to do that evening. When he said there probably wouldn’t be a lot of celebrations to go to in the UK, we could attend a taping of Absolutely Fabulous that evening if we’d like. Needless to say, it took less than a second for us to say yes and it quickly became a Fourth of July to remember without seeing one firework!
Happy Independence Day, America…from Stephen Merchant.