Netflix donates After Life bench to Hemel Hempstead after continued success of Ricky Gervais show

Much of Gervais' poignant smash hit is shot around Hemel Hempstead

By James Lowson
Tuesday, 22nd March 2022, 10:43 am
Updated Tuesday, 22nd March 2022, 11:12 am

Hemel Hempstead has received a bench from streaming giants Netflix following the runaway success of season three of After Life.

After Life is the Ricky Gervais drama which mixes comedy with heavy-hitting subjects chronicling grief and depression.

Much of the grounded series is shot around Hemel Hempstead which forms the perfect background for the Gervais' series which touches on interrelationships and local community.

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Ricky Gervais getting ready for one of many scenes which takes place on a bench, photo from Netflix

Hemel Hempstead is one of 25 venues getting a brand new bench from Netflix which founded and holds the exclusive rights to this adult drama.

While also an recognition of Hemel Hempstead's ability to double as the perfect setting for a middle England show, the benches have also been donated to raise awareness for more pressing matters.

Netflix has sent on the bench in collaboration with Calm (Campaign Against Living Miserably), a charity dedicated to raising awareness about men's mental health.

CALM aims to destigmatize and normalise talking about depression among men and act as a suicide prevention service.

Hope is Everything is acting as the slogan for this campaign, photo from Dan Stobbs

Each bench contains a QR code which leads curious sitters to an online support service.

Perhaps surprisingly, benches play a key role in After Life, Gervais' character, Tony Johnson, is often filmed sitting on a bench taking his dog for a walk, as he ambles around, trying to cope with the crippling grief he's felt since the death of his wife.

Crackling scenes between Gervais and Penelope Wilson's character Anne, often take place on benches, with Wilson's character often showering Tony with pearls of wisdom.

Gervais who wrote the programme, as well as starring as its lead, said: “We hope the benches will create a lasting legacy for After Life, as well as become a place for people to visit, and we are thrilled to be associated with Calm and the great work they do.”

Each bench takes a QR code, leading to advice and support around depression and mental health services, photo from Dan Stobbs

Dacorum Borough Council was delighted to be chosen as one of the spots for this worthy campaign.

Councillor Alan Anderson told the Hemel Hempstead Gazette: “It was fantastic to hear from Netflix that they were donating this bench to Hemel Hempstead following the release of the final series of After Life on Netflix earlier this year.

"Having a great number of locations in Hemel shot so beautifully for the much-loved and watched series has filled myself, local businesses and the town itself with pride.

"I hope that the bench will become a place where people can sit, reflect and talk to someone if they need it – because hope really is everything.”

Calm chief executive Simon Gunning outlined the significance of benches in the show, and the real life situations it is hoping to mirror and display.

He said: “Park benches provide opportunities to reflect, talk to someone, sit shoulder to shoulder with someone and get things off your chest.

“That is why we’re delighted to team up with Netflix to put benches in parks across the country – inscribed with that crucial line from the show, ‘Hope is everything’ – to help people have those conversations and to show it’s normal to have those feelings.”