Edge's Jobability ad stars Gervais

LONDON - Ricky Gervais is taking his hapless creation David Brent out of The Office and into an ad campaign for the first time as part of an initiative to get more disabled people into employment.

The comedy actor not only waived his fee but has written and directed the commercial for Jobability, a website for disabled jobseekers (www.jobability.com), which is being supported in the venture by the Leonard Cheshire charity and Microsoft.

Members of The Office's production crew also worked for nothing on the commercial, which will break in cinemas across the UK at the end of next month. Media is being bought by Nutbrown Mann.

In the commercial, the bigoted Brent moves from management to the shop floor and dons overalls as the foreman of an engineering works who grotesquely parodies the misconceptions of some bosses about the ability of disabled people to work.

Asked by an unseen interviewer if he would employ a disabled person, Brent replies that he would - but not dwarves "because they would want to take a lot of time off, especially during the panto season", and not anybody in a wheelchair "because they knock stuff over".

The initiative, by edge<, grew="" out="" of="" an="" original="" brief="" by="" jobability="" for="" some="" small-space="" press="" ads.="" robert="" jebb,="" the="" agency's="" joint="" creative="" director,="" knowing="" that="" the="" second="" series="" of="" the="" office="" was="" going="" to="" feature="" a="" disabled="" character,="" produced="" a="" skeleton="" script,="" which="" gervais="" then="" agreed="" to="" develop="" and="" produce.="">

"Comedy is what I do and it's also a powerful tool for a serious message," Gervais said. "Sadly, there's a bit of us all reflected in Brent and that's the point."

Jebb acknowledged that the commercial might be thought insulting and insensitive by some people. But he added: "Anybody without a disability should take a long, hard look at it because it does a good job for a good cause. There will always be some disabled people who are upset by it but we think we've done this in a way that cares and supports."

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