One of the UK’s most popular sitcoms ever was actually ‘hated’ at first
Posted by  badge Boss on May 31
The Office didn’t go down well on first viewing for some people (Picture: BBC)

has revealed that one of the UK’s most beloved sitcoms of the 21st century initially got off to a very bad start indeed.

Comedian and actor Merchant, 49, – it soon became one of the most celebrated TV shows of all time.

The series, which ran for two seasons with two additional specials, won numerous awards and in 2005.

But according to Merchant, things didn’t get off to a good start, with test audiences apparently hating the Wernham Hogg mockumentary.

‘I’m very proud of that test screening result,’ he told The Dish podcast, revealing that The Office only scored better than a broadcast of a women’s lawn bowling tournament.

‘I don’t know why particularly women’s lawn bowls but that was the one that scored lower,’ he added. ‘That shows you what the test screenings mean.’

The Office co-creator says fans hated the test screenings in 2001 (Picture: David Fisher/Shutterstock)
Do you have a favourite episode of The Office?Comment Now

Despite being a fond memory for him now, the Logan actor lamented the fact that the poor test audience response nearly Ki**ed the show before it had really got going.

‘[BBC schedulers] stuck it on in the summer when no one watched it,’ he added, commenting on the short period when it looked like The Office wouldn’t be a hit.

However, fortunes soon turned around: ‘[But then] it got repeated and then we won a couple of trinkets, and we were off to the races.’

The Office has endured as one of Britain’s best TV shows of all time (Picture: BBC)
The series went on to become one of the best-rated comedies of all time (Picture: J. Vespa/WireImage)

The Office was soon commissioned for a second series in 2003 before it was wrapped up in an emotional two-part Christmas episode finale.

After those repeats later in the year, it won big at the British Comedy Awards in 2001, taking home the prizes for best new TV comedy and best TV comedy overall.

In 2004, the series won the Golden Globe award for best musical or comedy television series – making it the first UK comedy in 25 years at the time to be nominated for a Golden Globe, and the first to win one.

The series starred Ricky Gervais as boss David Brent, alongside the likes of Martin Freeman, Mackenzie Crook, and Lucy Davis, who played Brent’s employees at Wernham Hogg paper company.

It followed the ups and downs of their lives both in and out of the office – particularly the developing love story between Freeman’s Tim and Davis’ character Dawn.

Despite not being a hit with that specific test audience, it went on to win numerous accolades and consistently finds itself among the best rated British sitcoms of all time.

In 2005, a US remake was commissioned, starring the likes of Steve Carrell, John Krasinski, and Mindy Kaling – the show ran for nine seasons and was one of the best-rated sitcoms of its era.

Watch The Office on BBC iPlayer.