Ricky Gervais inspired me to take risks... | Radio 1's Greg James chooses his Perfect Playlist

Ricky Gervais inspired me to take risks...

Radio 1's Greg James chooses his Perfect Playlist

As his new comedy pilot, Dead Air, hits iPlayer, Radio 1 drivetime DJ Greg James chooses his comedy favourites...<

Fawlty Towers

As far as I'm concerned, the perfect sitcom. Each episode is beautifully self-contained, the characters are big and silly but believable enough to feel genuine compassion for them and the stories are so impressive and intricate. That era just seemed like a magical time when anything was possible; it was pioneering and new and mad, and Cleese was the centre of it all and I adored him.

Being tall as well, watching him definitely encouraged me to arse around more at school. Whether it be hitting people on the head with spoons or pretending to faint, it's his fault. I remember my mum getting me both series from Ritz Video (God I'm old) when I was off school ill. I devoured them and made sure I prolonged my illness for a few more days so I could re-watch. Over and over again.

I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue

The greatest radio show there has ever been. I love silliness. And this is the silliest, most stupid show I've ever heard and the second I heard it in the kitchen by accident once, I was hooked. I've even been suckered in to buying all the old episodes.

Humphrey Lyttelton is, of course, an icon and missed as a comedic force, and trumpeter, but Jack Dee is unbelievably good at hosting this show. From the deadpan jokes on the town they begrudgingly happen to be in, to Samantha 'popping out to have a quick mouthful of Jacob's...', to 'Countryside' being redefined as 'killing Piers Morgan' I lap up every second of this gem.

Arrested Development

I love sitcoms that completely inhabit the world in which they're set and this is one of the best examples. The idea that Michael Bluth is the sane one stuck in this world really appealed to me and was something I wanted to write into the character I play, Jake, in Dead Air.

The characters are complex and confused but always likeable. David Cross and Will Arnett are at their absolute mad best in this show and they set the bar in terms of performance in modern scripted comedy I think. It's one of the best ever, in fact just thinking about it I'm afraid I just blue myself.

Curb Your Enthusiasm

The master of the awkward. The master of not giving a fuck. And the master of making a Toyota Prius seem like a wise choice.

Grumpy men and women all over the world hold Larry David in the highest esteem possible. He says the things we all want to but are too polite. Whether it be wanting to 'go golfing' and leave his wife in the city to attend her charity event when he hears there's a bomb threat, to Ri a heart attack to prevent himself from being beaten up in a road rage incident, this man is a hero.

The world he inhabits is a fascinating parody of Hollywood which at no time do we think is self-indulgent. We should all be more like Larry.

I, Partridge

I am a huge Steve Coogan fan and Partridge has been a scarily large part of my life (and horribly close to home at times) and quotes from this show are really the only test I have to see if I'll get on with someone. All television incarnations of course are wonderful and have been celebrated a million times over so for that reason I have singled out the book from the 'Partridge Pantheon' because it illustrates the importance of a fully rounded character.

When you can create the entire back story, family tree even a CV and also manage to get to the point where the audience will know what the character's political and moral stances would be on certain topics, you've absolutely nailed it.

The book is not only a treat for Partridge nerds but also a beautiful parody of tiresome 'comedy' autobiographies. The audiobook adds an extra layer of magnificence too. I even tried to name my house 'The Cinnamons'. You'll only get that reference if you've read it.

The Office

It introduced a whole generation of people a different style of comedy and encouraged (almost to the point of tedium in my friendship group) to speak like David Brent. It was relatable, horribly relatable at times and will be held up as one of the most important comedies of all time.

The US Office too has been extremely influential to me because it shows what can happen to an idea when you collaborate with people (20 odd writers on American TV budgets!). The US writing team managed to make nine seasons of a British show that only did two. I'm not saying it's a good or bad thing, just very interesting because they are completely different but stemmed from the same idea. I like the that nothing is ever final - the idea can always be extended and taken to new places.

This, along with the Fawlty Towers script books are my favourite things on the bookshelf. Ricky Gervais' approach to life has inspired me to take some risks, write about what you know and never to be afraid to put yourself out there. Get the guitar.

• Greg James's Comedy Feed Dead Air is available on iPlayer.

Published: 16 Jul 2015

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