Published Friday, 28th January 2022
By Helen Aitchison
It's been two weeks since Netflix brought After Life back to our screens. If you're like me, you guzzled down Season 3 like a cold drink on a hot summers' day and was left in an emotional heap whilst still basking in the brilliance that is Ricky Gervais and the team.
Since Season 2 ended in April 2020, it's felt like forever that we've been waiting for one of the greatest comedy-drama's ever to return to Netflix. On 14th January, masses of us sat and watched the first episode of Season 3, followed by the next, and the next until the full 6 episodes had been consumed all too quickly. But no indigestion was felt, instead a little bit of heartbreak, some reflection and reminiscing in our lives and an absolute admiration for the After Life team.
Alas, there is no more, as Ricky told fans:
"I've really got to end it now. It's mad to end it now. It seems mad on every level, but I think it's the right decision, artistically. It's a finite story, and that's it's strength."
So what was the same in this season and what was different? The humour was as bold and outrageous as ever. I found myself on many occasions rewatching scenes as I howled with laughter and shock. The actors must have had jaw ache at the end of each day with the hilarious, risqué humour that pours out of After Life!
Sadly, we didn't get to see appearances of some of the former favourite characters, namely Paul Kaye as Tony's psychiatrist and the superb Roisin Conaty as Roxy / Daphne.
It was fantastic to see more of the creatively camp Ken (played by Colin Hoult) with his role as "Agent to the stars," and organiser of the Tambury Fayre. Additionally, there was a welcomed increase in the presence of the side-splitting, sublime David Earl as the pitiful Brian. Diane Morgan shone again as the vulnerable Kath and the ever-patient Emma (Ashley Jensen) continued to keep us hoping.
But of course, Ricky Gervais as the grieving and complex Tony was the butter to our toast. His emotion fuelled acting and the use of a script that at times felt so simple yet so powerful, made scenes and words feel etched onto our minds forever. The poetic, heartfelt descriptions of loss and the stages of grief were watched by masses of us behind a cascade of tears. Followed the next scene by joyous and cringing laughter. It's hard to think of many programmes that have had such an impact. The comeback of Brandy (Anti) the dog, just made it all the more human.
The final show felt like a devastating goodbye. Perhaps not the ending many hoped for, but this in many ways made After Life even more magnificent. Magnificent as it demonstrated reality, a reality felt and lived by so many.
If you haven't watched After Life, push it straight to number one on your to-watch list. If you've watch After Life, watch it again and again! Let your senses absorb its wonder. Outtakes are also available on YouTube for extra laughs.
The good news for all us mourning After Life fans, is that the bench sat on by Tony and widow Anne, so many times, grieving in synchronicity and having the most poignant of conversations is on tour now in the UK! Replica benches are spread across the country, our nearest currently in Exhibition Park, Newcastle.
What a wonderful way to feel part of a show that has had the nation, and world talking, not just about it's brilliance but about our mental health.
Watch Season 1, 2 and 3 of After Life on Netflix now.