Thursday, 7 February 2013

Derek Episode 2 Review

Running a Derek fansite means it is very difficult to be critical of the hit Channel 4 show, but the very reason I run this fansite is because I can’t criticise it. Derek is simply wonderful. Last night’s episode saw simplistic, yet effective storytelling at its best and in my opinion, topped episode one.

Derek, the character, is likeable with a child-like naivety that I myself envy. So many of us today are like the character Vicky when she arrived, focussing on and obsessive with the wrong things in life. Vicky’s aspiration was “Kardashians and that” but by the end, with help from Hannah and residents, she understood what life was actually all about – helping people and not judging people – which is the essence of Derek.

Community Service Worker, Vicky
Once again I was very impressed with Karl’s acting abilities. He was fantastic last night and some of Dougie’s lines were scripting genius. The Justin Bieber autobiography, the explanation of his haircut and his description of what an 80 year old is (fucked) – this was Gervais and Pilkington humour at its best. Dougie seems to stand back and look at the bigger picture, second-guessing Derek reading about cats and Kev looking for porn – Dougie was like a wise, yet somewhat troubled man. I think we’ve all felt like Dougie at some point in our lives, a lot of us probably do right now, as we get irritated by real life, second guessing predictable friends, feeling like we’re just plodding along and our only enjoyment is having a good moan. Dougie looks like a man with the weight of the world on his shoulders as he admits that he has never accomplished anything in life, but happily points out that he can say on his mother's life that he’s never ‘shat me pants.’ Pilkington portrays a bittersweet wisdom and is arguably the most endearing character in the show. When Vicky asked Dougie “why have you got a haircut like a paedophile,” I genuinely felt sorry for him.

Dougie in last night's episode (thanks Stephen Hawker)

And that brings us to Vicky, fabulously acted by Derek newcomer, Holli Dempsey (click here for our exclusive interview with Holli). Vicky came into Broadhill Retirement Home as a spoilt kid, doing community service for nicking shoes in a shop she used to work in. She never did well in school, is obsessed with celebrity culture, and as a naïve young girl this is all she aspires to be. She doesn’t want to touch things that have been in contact with old people – it disgusts her, but although she is a distasteful girl, she has some culture about her – she does read. But what does she read? Twitter. Holli Dempsey gave a strong, thought-provoking and very real performance that no doubt so many people can relate to. The thing we find out about Vicky is that deep down, she has no self-confidence, which is the reason why she is the way she is. When she is told that painting her own nails is ‘art’ by one of the care home residents, she gets that much-needed confidence. Hannah next offers her a cup of tea and Vicky feels valued – an adult – on par with the others and her confidence grows further. She loses the chip off her shoulder, relishes in her community service job and when Hannah gives her 10 out 10, she confesses that she has “never got 10 out of 10 for anything before.” She cries – she cries the pent up frustration of being a product of the 21st century as she finally understands the beauty of life – helping people. She really finds herself and by the end even wants to become a volunteer – a beautiful ending to that story within the episode. Holli acts Vicky so believably and viewers all had a place in their heart for her by the end.

Derek shows Vicky around
Away from the big lessons in life learnt from Derek, we had bags of Gervais humour. Kev saying: “I’ve shat myself,” Derek dancing to Getting’ Jiggy Wit It, the strategically placed Positive Psychology book in front of Dougie, the cook book explanation as to why everyone is getting fat, the hand movement by Derek showing the position of the cat’s insides, Kev asking if they had a toilet so he could have private time with his magazine, the resident who was stood in front of the camera, the haircut like a paedophile, 80 being fucked, the Special Brew, the resident who pissed himself etc etc. It was 24 minutes of hilarity interspersed with warmth and honesty.

I must say something about Kerry Godliman now – what an utter joy she is to watch! Her character, Hannah, is very reminiscent of Tim from The Office, especially when she looked at the camera when Vicky described her reading habits as “Twitter.” Everyone loved Tim and everyone loves Hannah. She is the backbone of the TV show and without her (the character and the actress) I believe the show just wouldn’t work. She is the strength of the Retirement Home, the strength of entire the story, and adds the realism to make the poignant moments work. She acts effortlessly and you can see why Hannah is a care worker – there’s not a bad bone in her body. Caring, compassionate and full of love – she is who we should all aspire to be. She knows her life isn’t glamorous but glamour is not her aspiration, and so it shouldn’t be – helping and caring for people is.

Every actor in the show adds a truly unique element that blends together so well. Every actor is first class and they each portray their part in a way that makes us forget who is actually behind each mask. We forget we’re looking at Gervais, Pilkington, Godliman, Earl and Dempsey, we are engrossed in Derek, Dougie, Hannah, Kev and Vicky.

As viewers, we all felt that we were all invited to Derek’s party and we all wanted to be in that room dancing to JLS and Robbie. The music played, the dialogue stopped and the body language and facial expressions told the story, and did it so well. We’ve also all been where Derek ended up – sprawled out on the floor inside a toilet cubicle wanting to die. The revolting Kev corrupted Derek with Special Brew and that mixed with huge wedges of cake ended up in sickness – a lesson always learnt the hard way – and a great lesson for the younger audience last night.

We've all been there
The ending of the show must be mentioned. With the party closing we were treated to the delights of Radiohead’s ‘Bones,’ a touching melody as we were all reminded in the most warm and sincere way that elderly people are people not to be forgotten. They have all lived a life, all experienced joy, happiness and love, and Derek Episode 2 ended with a moving reminder that one day we will all be old, we will all have memories and we will all want to be treated with the utmost respect.


  1. Want to thank Ricky for Derek, it's just perfect.

  2. "....simply wonderful".
    Agree with all you have said with this summation and throughout the review. One thing I would perhaps add is that the resonance, humour and pathos created by a brilliant script, main cast, directing and editing just wouldn't be the same without the utterly believable performances from each and every one of the supporting elderly actors?! Big ups to them too!