Let’s say you are sitting around with nothing better to do than read Silverback Digest.
Let’s say you’re in The Jungle and you’re trying to remember the cast of characters in the British version of The Office. Click on the Lists of Lists of Lists and pretty soon you’ve got:
Main article: David Brent
David Brent is the general manager of the Slough branch of Wernham Hogg paper merchants. Boorish and arrogant, he believes he is a lovable rogue in the business world and a Renaissance man, talented in philosophy, music and comedy. Although he thinks he is humorous, friendly and respected, others perceive him as offensive, childish and inconsiderate. His socially awkward behaviour comes across as he bumbles around the office – always hovering around the camera – telling rude jokes, performing awful impressions, and generally getting into trouble by talking before thinking. Brent thinks he is a tolerant, politically correct hero, but his preoccupation with this position, and the discrepancy between it and his often shocking jokes, get him into trouble. His lack of awareness regarding his ineptitude, lack of trust from colleagues, constant need of approval, and his failing way of trying to stay out of trouble are the driving plot points of the series.
Main article: Tim Canterbury
Tim Canterbury is a sales representative at Wernham Hogg. Unlike David, Tim is funny and patient. His humour and good nature make him one of the most likeable employees in the office, but at 30 he still lives with his parents and works at a job he hates. He maintains his sanity by pursuing an unlikely romance with receptionist Dawn Tinsley and playing practical jokes on Gareth. Although he wishes to leave Wernham Hogg to study psychology, his anxiety prevents him from taking any significant action. During Series One and Two, he also fails to further pursue a relationship with Dawn. Chosen as David’s successor at the end of series 2, he declines and lets Gareth take the position, which, however, does not keep him from playing pranks on Gareth.
Main article: Gareth Keenan
Gareth Keenan is Tim’s vindictive deskmate and enemy. Gareth is a cold-hearted jobsworth with no good personality traits. He is obsessed with his military service in the Territorial Army and angers Tim with his outlandish comments. He takes pride in being “Team Leader“, not realising his title is meaningless, and he imposes the little authority he has on his co-workers. He is selfish and intolerant. Tim and Dawn repeatedly insinuate homosexuality through questioning him about his military experience using double entendres. Apparently proud of his close connections with David and ignoring David’s poor treatment of him, he later – during the Christmas special – gets back at David by humiliating him in front of the cameras.
Dawn Tinsley (Lucy Davis) is the company receptionist and Brent’s dogsbody. She frequently has to put up with his attempts at humour and social interaction. Like her friend and co-worker Tim, she is aware of the miserable state of her life – she has been in an unhappy engagement with her fiancé Lee, a boorish warehouse worker, and gave up illustrating children’s books to pursue her current pointless career. During the Christmas special, Dawn and Lee return from their illegally prolonged US vacation.
Jennifer Taylor-Clarke (Stirling Gallacher) was Brent’s immediate superior in Series One. Nicknamed Camilla Parker Bowles by him, she is a strait-laced professional, and Brent’s behaviour and lacklustre style of management are shown to be puerile and ineffectual by contrast, with Jennifer repeatedly reprimanding David for inappropriate behaviour. At the end of Series One she is made a partner in the firm, with Neil Godwin becoming David’s immediate superior in series 2.
Ricky Howard (Oliver Chris) was introduced as Brent’s new temp in the pilot, and a recent graduate. He was prominently featured in episode three, where he and Tim form a team for trivia night. The two end up winning, successfully answering a tie-breaker question on Shakespeare against Finch. His past experiences at game shows, including winning Blockbusters, causes Finch to wind him up after beating him and Tim at “Throwing” claiming “Screw Blockbusters, Screw Bob Holness and screw your Gold Run!”.
Chris Finch (“Finchy”) (Ralph Ineson) is a “bloody good” outside sales representative. He is the only character in the series who is genuinely and unashamedly mean-spirited. He is imposingly intimidating, rasping-voiced with a natural flair for bullying others with cruel, personal attacks, Brent being his usual target. He likes to dominate conversations and is successful with women, but shows a poor attitude when he loses the staff quiz in Series One. David describes him as his “best friend” but actually acts more like a lackey, laughing at his jokes and attempting to impress him to feel popular only to be repaid with insults. Finch is such a bad loser at the quiz, he exclaims he and Brent can beat the team who beat them at many other things, so decides he can beat them at “Throwing”, and if he throws anything they choose over the building, they will win the quiz and the champagne instead (which they eventually do, with Tim’s shoe being the nominated object). In the Christmas Special, David finally stands up to Chris.
Neil Godwin (Patrick Baladi) is Brent’s counterpart at the Swindon branch and eventually his immediate superior. He is young, suave, handsome and hard-working, a more successful manager than Brent, and has huge respect from staff. Brent is annoyed by and envious of him, and makes occasional, often immature attempts to either undermine or one-up him. He grows increasingly exasperated with Brent’s immaturity, mistakes and inability to do his job properly and is therefore instrumental in David’s redundancy.
Rachel (Stacey Roca) is a jovial and flirtatious co-worker who starts a relationship with Tim. After a deluded Gareth reveals his plans to seduce her, Tim is shocked when she begins to pressure him to make a greater commitment. He realises that his ongoing love for Dawn is far greater than his feelings for Rachel and breaks off the relationship.
Anne (Elizabeth Berrington): Only appearing in the Christmas special, she is Tim’s pregnant desk mate. She annoys him as she speaks continuously about herself and other topics no one else is interested in. She coldly tells David that no one is interested in his invitation to go out for a drink, causing discomfort amongst her co-workers. However, an encounter with Glynn at the office party causes her to run out of the office in tears.
… And this leads you to remembering the dance competition at the office Christmas party:
There’s another four minutes of your life that you’ll never get back!