It didn't always seem like Ricky Gervais was going to be a world-conquering comedy colossus. In fact, at one point, he was more like a dodgy David Bowie soundalike, an entertainments manager at a student union and the manager of androgynous Britpoppers Suede. Moving to XFM didn't seem like groundbreaking career progression, but Ricky's new assistant Stephen Merchant proved to be good for more than just doing the boring stuff and picking up a cracking latte.
Ricky's first foray into telly was with Channel 4's Comedy Lab and 11 o'clock show, but bizarrely, for a man who's gone on to rule the waves, he went under the radar thanks to the stylings of Sacha Baron Cohen's Ali G. Luckily, Ricky's sidekick, Stephen was learning the ropes of production at the Beeb and cast Ricky in his short film as an overbearing boss desperate to be loved. A star was, finally, born.
The Office became one of the most garlanded shows in comedy history, and also one of the most remade – there's more versions of Brent these days than there are Elvis impersonators. Possibly. Following it up with Extras wasn't just a way of showing that there was more to Ricky than the goateed one, but also that his little black book had more A-listers' names in than the Priory's filing cabinet.
Now making movies across the pond, Ricky is famous for his black t-shirts and David Brent dance (we bet he regrets that one), selling out stand-up tours in seconds and even turning his hand to animated kiddies books. It seems everything Ricky touches turns to comedy gold. Even with his slightly annoying high pitched voice.
During his stand up shows, Ricky comes into his own, showing that not only is he a funny guy, he's a pretty smart fella too. Although, having said that, his knowledge often begs the question, how did he know that? His extensive knowledge on holes in toilet cubicles being one pretty memorable example of this (we didn't even really understand it, ahem).
Ricky's calm approach to stand-up has made him pretty popular on the comedy scene, but the same can't really be said for when he is left to his own devices - he managed to offend just about everybody and their handbag dog at the 2011 Golden Globes. And even thanked God for making him an atheist. No stranger to the ceremony (it was his second time hosting it, and he's even bagged a couple of the little fellas himself in the past) his gags ended up causing more gasps than laughs. Let's hope he wasn't planning to make it three in a row, as he's got more chance of bedding Kate Moss than being asked back. And let's not even mention that disastrous moment of ad lib at a memorial concert for Diana which led to some rather foul mouthed comments about him resting on his laurels
But that aside, he's become increasingly popular on the movie scene, popping up in everything from Night at The Museum, Ghost Town and The Invention of Lying. And although they might not be the types of films to secure Ricky the sort of movie immortality reserved for the likes of Gary Oldman and Johnny Depp, (in fact, they're probably not even worth the six quid to get into the cinema to see it), they are good for a bargain bucket giggle. Plus, being so overtly proud of The Office, Ricky would probably be the first to say, "so what, I wrote The Office". Which, we admit, there's not really a comeback to.