I just finished my first run through of The Office (U.K.) DVDs. And I tell you, I am absolutely staggered emotionally. I can’t remember the last time a television show left me so devastated.
Anyway, some questions and comments –
Christmas special – this seems to be a set term in British use; I’ve heard it used with regard to Black Adder and Yes, Minister (apparently the one episode I haven’t seen, in which Hacker becomes prime minister, is a Christmas special). We don’t really have an equivalent in the United States. Shows that are currently in production might have episodes that are hyped as “a very special episode,” but “special” is usually reserved for one-offs or for reunion shows. While shows might feature Christmasy themes if there is an episode whose initial broadcast is intended for that time of the year, it is generally just considered one of the episodes of the broadcast season (series), which traditionally goes from September to May.
Accents – In the director’s commentary to Part 2 of the Christmas special, Gervais notes that the actor playing Brent’s agent sports “another West Country accent.” Seeking further education on British accents, I was hoping some U.K. Dopers could give me a rundown of the accents of all the major and minor characters (David Brent, Gareth, Tim, Dawn, Keith, Dawn, Keith, Lee, Jennifer Taylor-Clark, Chris Finch, Rowan, Peter Purves, Neil, etc.). My experience with British accents is grounded in P.B.S. (Masterpiece Theatre, Mystery, Britcoms, etc.: John Cleese, Jeremy Irons, John Thaw, Stephen Fry, etc.)
Lewdness in the Workplace – I was pretty shocked to see the relatively nonchalant attitude toward the lewd comments made in the meeting in which Donna is introduced. Brent does eventually clamp down on it, but his reaction seems to come as a surprise to the staff. Certainly officemates who have become close will engage in lewd banter in the United States, but these days it would never happen in a public meeting like that. Heads would roll. And then there was Glynn (“Taffy”), the warehouse foreman. His ear-shrivelling comments to Jennifer and the woman who took Gareth’s desk in the special would set the building on fire in the United States. He would be out on his ass so fast, it wouldn’t be funny. Jennifer basically ordered David to fire Glynn after the first incident, but David didn’t do anything about it. Does this kind of thing really still happen in British workplaces?