"We were obsessive about making The Office feel as real as possible. This meant cutting-out anything that was too absurd or farcical. With Extras we decided to loosen our tie a little and indulge our love of pratfalls and vaudeville-style crosstalk while still exploring our usual interest in social faux pas and uncomfortable silences.
We didn't set out to satirise the entertainment business but after the success of The Office, Ricky met lots of stars that were fans and it seemed crazy not to exploit them for our own amusement. Originally we thought it would be funny just to have Kate Winslet or Samuel L Jackson wandering around in the background, never speaking, as though they were extras in our sitcom. Thankfully we came to our senses and realised it's madness to have Kate Winslet on set and not give her any lines.
I acted in the show because I'd always liked the idea of performing but there had never been an obvious role for me in The Office. With Extras, Ricky and I thought it was silly not to stick me in the show, given that we had developed such a strong comic rapport on the radio and in the writer's room.
There were endless highlights making Extras, from discovering a brilliant new talent in Ashley Jensen to co-writing a song with Ricky and David Bowie to acting opposite Robert De Niro. But the most fun was filming any scene with Shaun Williamson. I think we were a great double act and one of my favourite scenes from anything I've ever done is Darren and Barry chatting up women."