Ricky Gervais has denied that his upcoming comedy Derek makes fun of disabled people.
The 50-year-old comedian stars as Derek Noakes in the one-off comedy from Channel 4 later this month.
Various commentators including comedian Stewart Lee have said that Derek makes jokes out of the “mentally handicapped”.
“If I say I don’t mean him to be disabled then that’s it. A fictional doctor can’t come along and prove me wrong. He’s different. But then so are a lot of people.
“He’s not the smartest tool in the box but he’s cleverer than Father Dougal [from Father Ted], and not as different as Mr Bean. He’s based on those people you meet who are on the margins of society. Nerds, loners, under-achievers.”
Clark – who has previously clashed with Gervais over his use of the word ‘mong’ – was invited to watch a screening of Derek with Gervais and later praised the comedy.
“I’ve laughed and cried. I haven’t seen cruelty,” she wrote. “Instead of it being a mocking disintegration of a learning-disabled man paraded for the amusement of comfortable unaffected people, it’s the story that really needs to be told at the moment.”
Derek also stars Karl Pilkington in his first acting role. Gervais recently said that his part is very similar to the man himself.
Derek airs on Channel 4 on Thursday, April 12 at 10pm.