After Life: Ricky Gervais stars in trailer for season three

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After Life’s third and final season hits Netflix today as Ricky Gervais waves goodbye to Tony Johnson and the rest of Tambury. Set in the fictional town, After Life follows the story of Tony, a newspaper journalist whose life is turned upside down when his wife, Lisa, dies from breast cancer. He considers suicide on multiple occasions, but ultimately decides he would rather live long enough to punish the world by saying, and doing, anything he likes.

Tony initially considers his careless nature a superpower, but when friends and family try to save the nice man he once was, it ends up being much trickier.

Attracting a viewership of a reported 100 million since the first episode aired two years ago, it is said to be the most watched British comedy of the decade.

Each and every episode is a rollercoaster of emotions, with the final season promising more of the same.

In the fifth episode of season two, Tony lost his father Ray.

Ray had been living in a care home with dementia, where nurses such as Emma looked after him.

In a 2020 interview, Mr Gervais revealed he wanted to reflect the chaos and unpredictability that life brings by having Tony suffer the death of his beloved father.

Speaking to the RadioTimes at the time, he said: “S*** happens.

“As fun as that character [Ray] is to be around forever, I think sometimes you have to look at the brutal realities, or the brutal possibilities — and that’s what drama is, it’s conflict.

“[You think], what’s the worst thing that can happen? What’s the best thing that can happen? And sometimes they happen close to each other, it’s as simple as that — you’re having the best day and then you get an awful text… it’s life.”

Exactly that happened in the second season. Tony grew close to Emma, and the pair laughed and joked with one another on his daily visits to his father’s care home.

They bonded over Ray’s outbursts, as he called Emma’s love interest Simon a “c***”.

As season two came to a close, fans had hoped the two would hit it off as Emma intercepts Tony’s near suicide attempt by showing up at his doorstep, telling him: “I’ll take Groundhog Day.”

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In a recent interview with Deadline, Mr Gervais was asked about where their relationship would go in the final season.

He said: “It’s a complicated relationship because of Tony’s state of mind. He’s got all these things he’s worried about and it’s a bit tricky, but I think people know that I’m never going to end with ‘they lived happily ever after’.

“Tony’s going through the stages of grief, shock, anger, denial, then acceptance.”

Mr Gervais admitted he had seen a therapist about grief once, and they gave him some telling advice.

He recalled: “They said something like, ‘Grief is like a heavy rucksack, it doesn’t get lighter, but you get better at carrying it.’

“He’s trying to answer the question from the beginning to the end as to whether, if you lose everything, is life worth living?That’s what we eventually see as the sort of answer.”

Fans are reduced to tears several times in each episode, as Mr Gervais perfectly balances the deeper meaning of the series with humour.

Speaking to Express.co.uk recently, he teased an emotional scene in which Tony watches a video of his late wife reading a poem to him.

He said: “There’s one scene, I’ve watched it 70 times and it still absolutely chokes me up.

“It’s when Lisa reads the poem in episode six. Honestly, I gag.

“It’s such an amazing poem, it’s such an amazing performance and what’s happening while it’s happening.”

He recalled looking around the room after filming the scene to see “everyone was quiet”.

After Life season three is available on Netflix from today.

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