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Stephen Merchant To Bring Gangling Awkwardness to HBO Pilot

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His towering form has long managed to remain in collaborator Ricky Gervais's substantial shadow, but it looks like Stephen Merchant is finally ready to awkwardly strike out on his own.

Goggle eyes looking to a Gervais-less future, The Office and Extras co-creator has made a deal to star in a comedy pilot called Hello, Ladies, which he'll direct and with former U.S. Office writer-producers Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky--who have nothing to do with themselves since they were told to please stop doing Ghostbusters. Somewhat necessarily, Merchant will play a "gawky Englishman" transplanted to Los Angeles and looking for the woman of his dreams but finding it hard to break into their world of beautiful people, what with his being a 6'7", pretty-odd-looking guy. It sounds like ground Merchant has already covered in podcasts and his recent standup tour that bears the show's name, but it's also a routine he handles well, and after delivering three consistently-funny (if decreasingly important) series to television, he's certainly deserving of having a shot at TV sans Gervais. Or at least sans Gervais until Gervais shows up as a more standoffish, oblivious, assholish version of himself, probably in the second or third episode.

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