In 2001, a BBC film crew led by filmmakers Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant was dispatched to the offices of the Wernham-Hogg Paper Co. in the vibrant resort community of Slough. Though their initial purpose was to film a documentary on ordinary working life in one of the United Kingdom's most bustling hotspots, a strange twist of fate would lead instead to the creation of the international phenomenon known as The Office.
It seems hard to believe now, but the man the world would come to know as David Brent was an ordinary manager at Wernham-Hogg until the cameras arrived. Beloved by his employees for his uproarious wit, commanding leadership, and soulful singing voice, Brent did his best to avoid the film crews at first, preferring to grant his co-workers the spotlight. But audiences were captivated by his sheer charisma upon the series' initial airing, and when the cameras happened to capture his impromptu acoustic performance of his self-penned "Free Love on the Free Love Freeway" during a staff meeting, the BBC's phone lines were jammed with callers seeking more information about the song.
Overwhelmed and astonished by his sudden celebrity, Brent attempted to continue in his managerial job as filming of the first series concluded, even as he began recording his first album Hello... It's Me. The cameras returned for a second round of filming, just in time to catch Brent's increasing struggles to balance the burden of celebrity with his responsibilities at Wernham-Hogg. Viewers were also treated to Brent's subtle, brilliant matchmaking as he successfully nudged lovelorn salesman Tim and pining secretary Dawn into full-blown romance. On the final day of filming for the second series, "Free Love on the Free Love Freeway" debuted at #1 on the British pop charts, and Brent reluctantly resigned to focus on his recording career and charitable efforts.
Since then, Brent has recorded two multiplatinum albums, performed a riveting duet with Bono at the Live 8 charity concert, appeared before the House of Commons in an appeal for legislation to aid the handicapped, and earned record ratings for American Idol during his two guest judge appearances. He recently devoted his share of royalties from the bestselling DVDs of The Office to landmine relief in Africa.