Way back in 2001 a television show hit the British television screens which was pretty much unlike anything we had seen before. On 9th July the first episode of The Office was broadcast on BBC2 to almost instant acclaim. It was one of those rare shows which you absolutely did not want to miss but almost had to look away in horror when you watched it. I have the DVDs of the entire two U.K. series but have barely watched them since their purchase.
The show, as we all know by now, was written and directed by Ricky Gervais and Steven Merchant and centered around the fictitious Wernham Hogg Paper Company in the non-fictitious town of Slough. In particular it followed the thoughts and deeds of David Brent, the office manager, in a fly-on-the-wall manner which exposed his ego, his vanity and all his myriad weaknesses for the viewers of the ‘mockumentary’.
In one of the storylines a colleague named Neil Godwin, who runs the nearby Swindon branch of Wernham Hogg, receives a promotion which makes him Brent’s superior, much to the protagonists chagrin. Brent immediately becomes resentful of Neil and this manifests itself wonderfully when the office takes part in a charity day. Neil and a female worker from the Slough office practice and produce a classy dance which they perform in front of Brent and his staff. Brent takes exception to this and embarks on a bizarre dance of his own, leaping into an astonishingly embarrassing performance laced with cliched dance moves and aggression.
As you’ll see from the video, although the staff (and Neil) are encouraging and clapping along to begin with, they soon start to step back in embarrassed silence as Brent persists in the bizarre ritual. It was an iconic moment in what was already an iconic show and was surely one of the hardest comedic moments of television to watch amongst many others in the series. Gervais is probably tainted by the dance forever but he won’t mind; it only helped to make The Office one of the most memorable comedy series ever produced and one which has deservedly made its way around the world.