Back with a new sitcom, Life’s Too Short (BBC2, Thursday, Nov 10), Ricky Gervais tells us about his latest project…

Your new show, Life’s Too Short, is about the flagging career of a real-life dwarf actor Warwick Davis. Is this your best work to date?
“No, but it is the funniest. It hasn’t got some of the zeitgeist that maybe The Office had or some of the drama and the satire of Extras, but given an amount of ingredients, you can only have so many percentages of each. The Office was 50/50 comedy and pathos, this is 80/20. It is just funny.”

You’re playing versions of yourself in this, which Life’s Too Short star Warwick Davis has already done in Extras. Was it enjoyable playing yourself?
“It’s your ego and your PR side taking a day off. The more ridiculous and nasty and evil and egotistical you make yourself, you’re sort of going, ‘You see, I can’t really be like that.'”

Are big names begging to be in your shows?
“We’ve never regretted stopping The Office or Extras, except at big award shows where people come up to me and say, ‘Oh I’d love to be in Extras’. And its like, ‘Well, we’re not doing it any more’. So this was a great excuse to soak up some of those people and add to the realism, just like in Extras. It also gives us a job in the show. The fake Warwick is struggling, his phone has stopped ringing so he’s not meeting these people. So the joke is that we’re in charge of entertainment. But of course we get undermined.”

Liam Neeson plays himself in the first episode; how was he?
“He was great. The reason we chose him was because of the juxtaposition of how people see him through all his roles, a very serious man, the new John Wayne! That scene takes up 50 per cent of the outtakes.”

Is there anybody else you’d like in the show?
“We haven’t really got a list. Steve Merchant wanted Bruce Springsteen, but only because you never see him do anything.”

Do you worry how Life’s Too Short will be received?
“I don’t, no. Some people said [the film] Cemetery Junction wasn’t funny, but it was a drama. We never said it was a comedy. You’re going to disappoint some people full stop so you don’t try and please. There are six billion people in the world, if you do it for yourself, someone will like it as much as you.”