'The backlash has started'

Gervais laughs off BBC Bafta bungle

Ricky Gervais has laughed off a BBC bungle that could cost him a Bafta award.

He could have been in line to win his third consecutive award for best comedy performer for his role as The Office's David Brent - but the corporation failed to put his name forward.

And now the matter has even reached Parliament, with one Liberal Democrat MP winning headlines by tabling an early day motion.

Gervais said his omission showed "a level of incompetence worthy of Wernham Hogg" .

But he added: "Mistakes happen, no one died. I don't want to get anyone into trouble - it's just one of those things that you wish hadn't happened.

"First of all a fat bloke wins a Ricky Gervais lookalike competition on Dale Winton's show, just for being fat. Then The Vicar of Dibley beats the Office [in the BBC2 quest for the best sitcom of all time]. Now I've been left off the list. I think the backlash has started."

The BBC did put the names of co-stars Mackenzie Crook and Martin Freeman forward for their work on the two-part Christmas special, but a mistake in the comedy entertainment department meant Gervais was overlooked.

Bafta has said they will consider a BBC request to add his name to the list - but it may be too late as all academy members have already received a copy to register their vote before January 26.

A BBC spokeswoman admitted: "Ricky's name was always going to be included. It's just a genuine clerical error. We spotted it immediately and spoke to Bafta, who have reassured us that Ricky's name is going forward to the next committee meeting,"

Liberal Democrat culture spokesman Don Foster is raising the issue in the Commons.

He told MediaGuardian: "A lost memo shouldn't deny Ricky Gervais his Bafta comedy hat trick. With The Office and the incomparable David Brent, Gervais has continued the excellent British tradition of creating great original comedies, reaching heights worthy of Monty Python.

Mr Foster's motion, which other MPs will be able to sign, "acknowledges the place Gervais holds in the unique tradition of great British comedians" and adds: "This house laments the BBC's clerical error that left Ricky Gervais without a nomination for this year's Bafta awards... and urges Bafta's TV committee to accept a late nomination."

Four years ago the BBC made a similar mistake, submitting an old episode of The Royle Family to the Montreux festival, costing it the chance of a coveted Golden Rose.

Published: 15 Jan 2004

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