(Credit: Netflix)

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Ricky Gervais and 'After Life' donate benches to CALM

Following the brilliant success of the popular British comedy series After Life, directed and written by comedian Ricky Gervais, who also stars in the lead, Netflix has donated 25 benches to CALM, a suicide charity, as a part of their mental health campaign. 

In After Life, Gervais plays the bereaved journalist Tony who loses his wife to cancer and subsequently is overpowered by suicidal thoughts. He sits on a bench in the cemetery and reflects and introspects on his loss and other life choices while making friends with the elderly Anne (Penelope Wilton), whose wise words help him grapple with his problems. 

In the show, Tony constantly talks about taking his own life. His German Shepherd, Brandy, saves him from killing himself in the bathtub or drowning in the sea. 

Placed in various local councils in the UK- over 25 locations, including Bath, Glasgow, Birmingham, Taunton, Liverpool- and commissioned by Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), the benches have QR codes that will help people find help and support online. 

The benches have on them an inscription of a quote from season three that reads, “Hope is everything.”Applauding the initiative, Gervais has said, “We hope the benches will create a lasting legacy for After Life.” He also lauded the organisation for their “great work” and expressed his thrill and excitement at the association with his work. 

The chief executive of CALM, Simon Gunning, has spoken about how park benches are a great place to sit and have a break from the daily drudgeries of life, have a talk with someone and express their feelings. 

He said that this “crucial line” from After Life  would help show how “it’s normal to have those feelings.”

The show is a brilliant commentary on grief, depression, loss and suicide. While Ricky Gervais has admittedly never suffered depression and despair like Tony, despite losing his parents, pets and some friends as well as a sibling, he has said how the “ultimate” loss for him would be losing his “soulmate”- the idea of the show “stems from that” figment of “imagination”. 

Watch After Life on Netflix now.