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Netflix donates Ricky Gervais' After Life bench to Victoria Park in Ashford


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A bench designed to inspire hope will be added to a Kent park to celebrate the release of Ricky Gervais’ acclaimed show, After Life.

Netflix is donating 25 benches to councils across the country, with the aim that they will provide a place for people to sit, reflect and share.

A new bench will be installed in Victoria Park, Ashford, to coincide with the release of After Life series three. Picture: Netflix
A new bench will be installed in Victoria Park, Ashford, to coincide with the release of After Life series three. Picture: Netflix

One of these is destined for Ashford's Victoria Park, in Jemmett Road, and is set to be installed today.

Benches feature prominently in the much loved programme, the third series of which was released last Friday.

It is currently the number one show in the UK on Netflix.

Directed and written by Ricky Gervais, it follows Tony, played by the comedian, as he deals with intense grief following his wife Lisa's death from cancer.

When we meet Tony, a reporter for the made up Tambury Gazette, in the first series, he is contemplating ending his life to escape his unbearable pain.

In total, 25 benches will be installed around the country, with only one in Kent. Picture: Netflix
In total, 25 benches will be installed around the country, with only one in Kent. Picture: Netflix

Slowly though, with the help of his friends, colleagues and beloved dog, Tony starts to realise that making other people feel good is what can give him hope and a reason to live.

The drama also stars Penelope Wilton, Ashley Jensen, Tom Basden, Tony Way, David Earl, Joe Wilkinson, Kerry Godliman, Jo Hartley, Diane Morgan, David Bradley and Peter Egan.

The characters are regularly seen chatting on benches, including at the graveyard where Lisa is buried, and serve as a place to reflect, share, listen and, ultimately, to grow and find hope for the future.

The new benches, which will be installed around the UK including in Bath, Birmingham, Glasgow and Liverpool, have been commissioned alongside suicide prevention charity Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) - which offers help, advice and information to anyone who is struggling or in crisis.

Those who visit a bench will be able to access resources from CALM via a unique QR code with the wording 'Life can be tough, but there’s always hope. Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is by your side'.

They are also each inscribed with a quote from After Life - Hope is Everything - and a plaque with “This bench is donated by Netflix to commemorate Ricky Gervais' 'After Life'.”

Ricky Gervais 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."

Simon Gunning, CEO of CALM added: "Park benches provide opportunities to reflect, talk to someone, sit shoulder to shoulder with someone and get things off your chest.

After Life is currently the number one show in the UK on Netflix. Picture: Netflix
After Life is currently the number one show in the UK on Netflix. Picture: Netflix
How the Netflix-linked film studios scheme could look at the former Newtown railway works
How the Netflix-linked film studios scheme could look at the former Newtown railway works

"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."

After Life won Best Comedy at the 2021 National Television Awards and has a 86% average audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.

In April 2020, plans for multi-million pound film studios at the former Newtown railway works site in Ashford were approved.

Netflix has long been linked with that project, with work expected to start later this year.

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