Ricky Gervais' Simpsons episode pulls in 2.2m viewers

LONDON – The long-awaited episode of 'The Simpsons' starring comedian Ricky Gervais attracted 2.2m viewers when it aired on Sky One last night, a record audience for the animated series.

Following its success, reports have said that the comedian has become the only star to be asked back to appear on the show, which has not been confirmed by makers Fox.

'Homer Simpson, This Is Your Wife', which has received mixed reviews, was written by and guest starred Gervais, who played a character similar to his David Brent character in 'The Office'.

Gervais' episode of 'The Simpsons' marks the culmination of over two years' work on the show.

When he was first offered the opportunity to work on the show, Gervais said: "When I first got into comedy, my ambition was to get a joke on 'The Simpsons', so writing and starring in one is ridiculous for me."

The Guardian's critic Sam Wollaston "enjoyed it very much" as did Independent reviewer Gerard Gilbert, while Dominic Maxwell in the Times said it was only a "middling Simpsons episode", but better than most other stuff on the box.

Maxwell said: "The languid timing that Gervais brings to 'Extras' and 'The Office' was wrong here. Gervais' shtick ran rampant though the second half, turning regulars into extras."

Gervais voiced Charles, a down-beaten husband who enters into a wife-swapping TV show with Homer and ends up falling in love with Marge.

Against Marge's judgment, Homer signs the family up for a wife swap show in an effort to win a HDTV and is forced to take in a controlling wife, while Marge moves in with Charles and his perfect son.

Charles quickly develops a crush on Marge while she is just trying to give him the strength to stand up to his own wife.

In 2004, Sky scored an audience of 2m with its Rebecca Loos interview about her affair with David Beckham.

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