Though Stephen Merchant (or “Smerch” to fans, “lanky, goggle-eyed freak” to Ricky Gervais) may share plenty of HBO credits with long-time creative partner Gervais, such as on the great series Extras as well as voice credits to The Ricky Gervais Show, Hello Ladies will be his first solo foray. HBO has reportedly ordered a pilot from the talented Brit, which he co-wrote with former The Office (UK) scribes Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky (Merchant is also an executive producer on the American series, along with co-creator Gervais).
The series will star Merchant as an English guy looking for love in Los Angeles, and his attempts to crack into its polarizing, superficial world. If the title sounds familiar, it’s because it was also the name of his recent stand-up comedy tour. Merchant has appeared onscreen in all of his projects with Gervais, and also in a few forgettable films such as The Tooth Fairy and Hall Pass, but Hello Ladies will be his first starring role. For more on the project, hit the jump.
According to the The Live Feed Merchant is set to star, executive produce and write the new series, which sounds like it could be inspired at least in part by his own experiences. Fans of the podcast series and old XFM radio shows Gervais and Merchant did along with their producer Karl “head like a fucking orange” Pilkington (who now has his own travel series, An Idiot Abroad) will know that Merchant has been long-suffering in his love life, hindered in part perhaps by the fact that he is six-foot-seven (“which,” as he has often said, “is quite high”).
As mentioned above, Merchant (and Gervais) have had a long relationship with HBO, which also broadcast their series Life’s Too Short, starring Warwick Davis. The series debuted to mixed reviews here and in the U.K., earlier this year, and hopes are high that their next project – or in this case, Merchant’s solo project – might get back to form.