Disclaimer: This is a fan's account of a visit to the set of Derek Series 2 (Or Season 2 like you Americans like to say it) and is in no way meant to be professionally written. Also this doesn't contain any spoilers!
When I first arrived on the set (at 10am they had already been filming for two hours!),
I was greeted by the lovely producer Mr. Charlie Hanson and we sat in front of a monitor amongst the many (very friendly) members of the crew who were sitting in complete silence as a scene was being filmed. Everyone was huddled up near a portable heater because of how cold the set was. The scenes from the monitor were all recorded on to a hard drive which was recording even after the cameras stopped rolling, apparently this was for continuity purposes and to help with editing later on.
A very nice man who was part of the crew gave me some headphones so I could listen in on the scene being filmed as we watched on the monitor; then I heard it, that trademark laughter, through the other side of the wooden walls of the set.
This immediately had a warming presence on most of us sat there and I enjoyed hearing that famous laugh that I had heard so many times before on TV in such close proximity. Every so often, a bell would ring to indicate the end of a scene and to re-set it and do it again.
We were then given a guided tour by Charlie and shown the props used and also the rooms where the residents slept as well as Dougie's and Hannah's offices. It was so fascinating to see how different everything looked off camera.
Then, I got to go into the main part of Broadhill, the sitting area, where the majority of scenes are filmed.
I have to admit, when Ricky walked up to us, shook our hands and said 'Hello', I was dumbstruck and I'm not ashamed to admit it, it was such a surreal experience. I had finally met my hero, the man who I had become more of a fan of (if that's even possible!) since watching him play the tender, innocent Derek Noakes in Series 1.
We then went on to see how each department functions on a huge television comedy production like this. I met the lovely ladies who were in charge of everyone's wardrobe and they explained how they have to organise the clothes for each character and sort out the budget for clothes as well. They also explained how Derek's famous cardigan is a one off creation and was bought in a London market (for those who wanted to buy one).
Then I saw the office where the hard work goes on to make sure everything runs smoothly, people are sat in there organising when actors/actresses come in to film their scenes, when they get picked up etc.
We were kindly invited to stay for lunch and when I saw the buses outside and the catering tent I was immediately reminded of Extras, and the scene where Maggie isn't allowed to sit and eat on the bus for actors. I then saw the people serving the food and hoped that they didn't serve me any with dog hairs in (Extras reference).
When I saw the food tent, I immediately knew what Karl was talking about when he said the catering and food was good. There was a huge variety of food from fruits to gorgeous deserts and I found myself in a conversation with 'Prem' played by Prem Modgil about the rice pudding (this was something that Prem and I could both relate to, being Asian, as rice pudding is eaten a lot in South Asia).
Whilst eating, we also met the lovely Colin Hoult who was filming his first ever scenes that day after coming on board as the new caretaker Geoff in Series 2.
Those who follow Ricky's work will remember him from Life's Too Short when he played the psychic. He's such a down to earth friendly guy as were all the actors and actresses, and I found myself chatting to him about food too!
It was clear to see that Ricky takes great care of his cast and crew and doesn't spare any expense in the food for them. There is also a very well heated room with sofas in for the elderly actors to relax and keep warm in.
Another lovely young lady was Holli Dempsey who kindly offered to us to sit in her trailer as it was quite cold, luckily 'Kev' wasn't around as he would've surely taken her up on her offer.
Speaking of 'Kev' I met the very friendly, shy and soft spoken David Earl who is world's apart from his seedy on screen character. Such a lovely guy who didn't hesitate when I politely asked him for a photo, he even asked if I wanted him to put his 'Kev' glasses on.
After lunch, we got to stand in just behind the cameras on a very funny scene being filmed, which I am proud to have witnessed being acted out first hand. It involved 'Kev' talking about things that he liked and a lot of corpsing by Ricky; which was understandable as it was bloody hilarious. I really don't know how they manage to film a whole series, the amount of fun those guys have on set. I don't want to give anything away so you'll have to watch out for that particular scene, it's comedy gold.
Although there was a lot of corpsing and the actors were genuinely having fun; Ricky appeared to be a fantastic director and encouraged David Earl to ad-lib and was so nice to Holli Dempsey and Kerry Godliman when he wanted them to do a scene or a line slightly differently. There only appeared to be a general warmth on set and no sign of superiority or being a diva by Ricky (who is genuinely a lovely, down to earth guy). The set was so relaxed, with Ricky chatting to the cast and crew between takes, or drinking cups of tea.
Whilst on set I also met the very talented, friendly photographer Ray Burmiston as he was taking pictures for series 2 promos. What can I say, every person I met was as nice or maybe nicer than the last person that I'd met.
Ricky took pictures as Derek with each of us which Ray kindly took and finally, it was time to leave, and I was so sad to go, I would've happily sat there all day just to absorb the lovely cosy atmosphere and genuine love between all the cast and crew. It's such a cliche but they are like a family, especially because the majority of scenes in Derek are filmed in the sitting area and the elderly actors/actresses are sitting there doing their knitting or reading the papers or doing a jigsaw puzzle.
It was fascinating to see all the hard work that goes on by the crew behind the scenes and a shame that these individuals aren't really recognised in awards ceremonies because without them holding the cameras and the lighting and sound equipment, or organising the character's wardrobe or making the cups of tea then the show would not go on.
A huge thanks to my hero Ricky Gervais for allowing us the privilege of being on his set and to Charlie Hanson and Katie Mavroleon for making it happen, and of course to Holli Dempsey, Colin Hoult, David Earl, Brett Goldstein and Kerry A Godliman and all of the wonderful cast and crew who made us feel so welcome and chatted to us.
After all, Kindness is Magic!
Lastly, I'd like to say that Ricky Gervais keeps saying that he wishes he was more like Derek Noakes; but he doesn't know that he is already so much like him. He is kind, considerate, soft spoken and so nice to his fans. I am proud to be a 'Gervaisaholic' and cannot wait for Derek to come back to our TV screens again.
Derek Series 2 starts in the UK on Channel 4 Wednesday April 23rd and on Netflix worldwide from one minute past midnight on May 30th!