Stephen is a talented writer, director, radio presenter, comedian, and actor. He is best known for his collaborations with Ricky Gervais, in particular the multi-award winning British comedy The Office. He met Ricky Gervais for the first time in 1997, when Gervais (then in the position of “Head of Speech” at the London radio station Xfm) hired Merchant as his assistant. Merchant and Gervais hosted a Saturday afternoon radio show together from January through to August 1998.
In mid-2001, BBC Two aired the first series of The Office, co-written and co-directed by Merchant and Gervais. In the same year, Merchant and Gervais returned to Xfm as co-hosts of The Ricky Gervais Show, another Saturday afternoon programme, which led to their fruitful relationship with producer Karl Pilkington.
During 2004, Merchant appeared in a recurring role as a chef on Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace and in a cameo on Green Wing, and served as a script associate on the Chris Morris and Charlie Brooker sitcom Nathan Barley. The same year, The Office aired in the U.S to critical acclaim.
In December 2005, with sponsorship by The Guardian, Merchant, Gervais and Pilkington began recording a weekly podcast (also called The Ricky Gervais Show). Throughout its first series (through 20 February 2006), the podcast was consistently ranked the most popular in the world, and was certified as the most-downloaded of all time by Guinness World Records.
In July 2005, following a brief return of the XFM radio show (filling in for Adam and Joe), Gervais and Merchant’s new sitcom Extras premiered on BBC2. The series features Merchant in a supporting role as Darren Lamb, the incompetent agent to struggling actor Andy Millman, played by Gervais. Series 2 of Extras aired in late 2006, followed by a Christmas special in December 2007.
Stephen won a 2006 British Comedy Award for Best TV Actor for his performance as Lamb.
In January 2007, Merchant began hosting his own radio show on BBC 6 Music, airing weekly on Sunday afternoons. Instead of comedy, The Steve Show focused on music.
Merchant has played small roles in the films Hot Fuzz (2007), Run Fatboy Run (2007), and The Invention of Lying (2009), the latter starring Ricky Gervais. He has a supporting role in the 2009 film Tooth Fairy.
Merchant has also provided the voice-over since 2009 of advertisements for Barclays and Waterstone’s.
In September 2010, Merchant produced a television show alongside Ricky Gervais starring Karl Pilkington called An Idiot Abroad.
In January 2011, Merchant appeared at the ‘Free Fringe Benefit’ at the Bloomsbury Theatre, London. A show of stand-up to benefit the Free Fringe at the Edinburgh Comedy Festival.
One of the most respected British comedy writers, Stephen Merchant is in demand as an after dinner speaker for his anecdotes and memories.