The Office Is Based On A UK TV Show, But Not The One You Think
2024/02/04

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The Office's Premise Was Done By The Day Today 7 Years Earlier

Seven years before The Office UK first aired in 2001,a six-episode fictional news show called The Day Today came out. The last episode of the satirical comedy, which parodied current affairs broadcasting, featured a segment with a very similar premise to The Office. The skit, also called "The Office," depicted the employees of a pharmaceutical company undergoing a series of bizarre management strategy experiments led by supposed "expert" Lester Beck. To promote his "disassemblage" management system, Lester compels the group to berate and humiliate their colleagues and themselves and lets a wild pig run loose in the office.

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While neither Gervais nor Merchant has addressed deriving inspiration from The Day Today, the similarities between "The Office" skit and The Office sitcom go beyond the shared name. There are undeniable parallels between the premise and the comedic intention. Through a mockumentary format, "The Office" introduces an absurd element to disrupt the order of a mundane workplace setting and the exceptionally ordinary people who work there. The skit is clearly intended to mock then-modern-day office culture and business management strategies, similar to The Office.

Some of the exercises in "The Office" are even reminiscent of the "Diversity Day" episode of The Office US, in which the Dunder Mifflin employees must participate in an inadvertently offensive "sensitivity training" activity.

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It's very likely that Gervais and Merchant were aware of The Day Today and that this segment influenced particular elements of The Office. If "The Office" did serve as a loose basis for Gervais and Merchant's idea, The Day Today would have been critical to the inception of the American adaptation of The Office, not to mention the upcoming reboot of The Office.

Related The Office Reboot Plan Is Forgetting A Harsh Reality About The Show's Original Success The plan for the reboot of NBC's beloved comedy The Office will have to contend with losing a major factor in the original show's success.

How The Day Today's "The Office" Differed From Gervais & Merchant's Show

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Despite their major similarities, there are some key differences between The Day Today's "The Office" skit and The Office UK sitcom. For one, "The Office" was just a two-part skit within an episode of a show rather than a full series in itself. The employees in "The Office" also worked at a pharmaceutical company as opposed to a paper company. Plus, in "The Office," the ridiculous and off-putting David Brent-type character who was there to cause chaos and disorder was an outside expert as opposed to the boss of the company, which made sense for a one-off skit.

"The Office" skit was also a lot more surrealist and intentionally absurd in its tone

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, as was The Day Today as a whole. On the other hand, The Office UK portrayed office culture at the time through a more bleak yet realistic lens to get its point across and relate more to viewers. There are some distinctions between the two, and The Office is by no means a rip-off or copy of The Day Today's segment, but it would be hard to believe if there was no connection between "The Office" and The Office, as well as the American adaptation.

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