The series is set in Slough in a small branch office of the fictitious firm Wernham Hogg, a paper merchant, run by the odious David Brent (played by Gervais). Together with his assistant, the weekend warrior Gareth Keenan (Mackenzie Crook), Brent manages the office in a way that will be depressingly familiar to many corporate workers. Desperately trying to emulate his best friend and mentor, the smooth-talking salesman Chris "Finchy" Finch, Brent tries to be his employees' best friend and tyrant to equal degrees. Of course, he fails miserably.
Other denizens of the office include the bored receptionist Dawn (Lucy Davis), who although engaged to the rather dim Lee is constantly flirting with Tim (Martin Freeman), perhaps the most likeable character in the show.
The series' humour largely revolves around the verbal gaffes of Brent, sometimes dubbed "Brentisms" by fans, and his minion Keenan. There is no laugh track, and various touches make it resemble a low-budget fly-on-the-wall documentary: talking-head pieces to camera (often Brent with a bit of self-aggrandisation); and angles that suggest a crew trying to keep out of everyone's way whilst capturing the goings-on. Widely acclaimed as the funniest, if bleakest, show in years: two six-episode series of The Office have been made.
David Brent oversees a turbulent spell at the Slough office of Wernham Hogg. Jobs are being axed and the staff need a boss who can speak out on their behalf.
Ricky, a young college graduate on his first job; and Donna, the daughter of friends of David Brent's, who is temporarily staying at his home and (controversially) going out with Ricky.
The Slough and Swindon branches of Wernham Hogg are merged. David Brent reassures the intake of new people that he is a great boss and that good times lie ahead.
The BBC documentary crew returned to the office to see what had happened to the place a year after they were last there; the result was two extended episodes.
Gervais and Merchant have stated that there will be no further series of the show; they did, however, write two final 45-minute episodes, which first aired in the United Kingdom on BBC One on Boxing Day and December 27, 2003. The shows were set two years after the events of the first two series, and the plots revolved around the office's preparation for their Christmas party, and Brent's attempts to build a career based on the tiny amount of fame that his appearance in the first two series of the show earned him.
In January 2004 The Office won the Golden Globe award for "Best Television Series - Musical Or Comedy". This is the first time that a British TV series has won this award (beating nominees: Arrested Development, Monk, Sex And The City and Will & Grace). Ricky Gervais was also awarded the Golden Globe for "Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Musical or Comedy" for his role in The Office (beating: Matt LeBlanc, Friends; Bernie Mac, The Bernie Mac Show; Eric McCormack, Will & Grace and Tony Shalhoub, Monk).
- Lucy Davis ... Dawn Tinsley
- Mackenzie Crook ... Gareth Keenan
- Martin Freeman ... Tim Canterbury
- Patrick Baladi ... Neil Godwin
- Ralph Ineson ... Chris Finch
- Ricky Gervais ... David Brent
- Stirling Gallacher ... Jennifer Taylor-Clark
Other cast (incomplete)
- Alexander Perkins ... Ralph
- Angela Clerkin ... Jackie
- Emma Manton ... Emma
- Ewen Macintosh ... Keith
- Howard Saddler ... Oliver
- Jamie Deeks ... Jamie
- Jane Lucas ... Sheila
- Joel Beckett ... Lee
- Julie Fernandez ... Brenda
- Oliver Chris ... Ricky Howard
- Phillip Pickard ... Phillip
- Rachel Isaac ... Trudy
- Robin Hooper ... Malcolm
- Sally Bretton ... Donna
- Stacey Roca ... Rachel
- Yvonne D'Alpra ... Joan