The Deservedly Short Pop Career of Ricky Gervais


Ricky Gervais, host of this year’s Golden Globe Awards, is the comedic writer and actor who created, among other stellar TV shows, the original British The Office documentary-style sitcom, which in turn spawned 9 seasons of an American cash in adaptation.

But few fans on this side of the pond (or probably on the other, for that matter) realize he was a failed 80’s would-be pop star.

seonaIn 1983, while attending University College of London Gervais and friend Bill Macrae formed Bowie-esque synth duo Seona Dancing and released two singles on London Records.

The group split in 1984 after neither “More to Lose” or “Bitter Heart” cracked the British top 40.

But then something weird happened. According to Wikipedia:

In 1985, DWRT-FM (then known as 99.5 RT, now 99.5 Play FM), a radio station in Metro Manila, Philippines, started playing a song billed as “Fade” by Medium (also billed as “Medium” by Fade). DWRT-FM deliberately misnamed the artist and song title to prevent anyone from finding the record and playing it themselves. Additionally, to stop other radio stations from recording it and playing it, DWRT-FM inserted a station ID midway through the track. A year later, another radio station, DWXB-102, revealed the true identity of the song as “More to Lose” by Seona Dancing.[1]

The song, which utilises an opening piano riff to convey the sound of falling teardrops, became a major radio and club hit as well as a favourite at high-school dances during the 1980s and beyond. AllMusic critic Michael Sutton wrote that the track was “the theme song of angst-ridden New Wave youths in the Philippines” and “an ’80s anthem as ubiquitous as Peter Gabriel’s ‘In Your Eyes’, but with the eternal hipster cool of Joy Division’s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’.”

And as for “Bitter Heart”, despite its poor showing as a pop single it too had a second life of sorts.

Fans of the original Office may remember David Brent’s ridiculous dance, when he “sort of fused Flashdance with MC Hammer shit”. But the accompaniment seems to be the riff from none other than “Bitter Heart”.

After the demise of Seona Dancing, Gervais managed other pop bands in the late 80’s for a spell before landing on London’s alternative XFM radio station, where he met and hosted a Saturday afternoon radio show with Stephen Merchant, with whom he co-wrote and directed the work for which he’s best known, The Office, which has been remade in  Sweden, France, Germany, Quebec, Brazil and, of course, the United States.

But if you’ve never seen the original with Gervais himself playing the part of obnoxious and delusional boss David Brent, do check it out.

Seona Dancing comes slighly less recommended.


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. peace1971
    Jan 06, 2016 @ 12:17:51

    Good post. Hadn’t heard this before although I knew he made a few pop singles in the 80s



  2. Anonymous
    Jan 13, 2016 @ 03:27:35

    Cool! never heard of them. A great find and read.


  3. eldux72
    Jan 13, 2016 @ 03:33:31

    That Anonymous was me…


  4. Ed Cyphers
    Jan 14, 2016 @ 17:02:20

    Thanks for reading, eldux.


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