Ricky Gervais behind new benches for people grieving to 'talk and reflect'

Ricky Gervais has teamed up with Netflix and CALM to support people grieving

Ricky Gervais has teamed up with Netflix and CALM to support people grieving - Credit: Netflix

Ricky Gervais is backing a project to donate benches in Hampstead, Highgate and Queen's Park to support people dealing with grief and loss.

The actor wrote, directed and starred in Netflix comedy-drama After Life, which released its third series last Friday (January 14).

To mark the latest series, mental health charity Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) has partnered with Netflix to put 25 benches in parks across the country, inscribed with the words “hope is everything”.

Mr Gervais, who lives near Hampstead Heath, said: “I don’t think any harm can come from discussing taboo subjects – if we don’t, they stay taboo because people are scared to talk about them.

“After Life let people talk about grief, and it was so good to start the conversation.”

Ricky Gervais said After Life "let people talk about grief"

Ricky Gervais said After Life "let people talk about grief" - Credit: Netflix

In the show, Mr Gervais plays newspaper writer Tony Johnson whose life is turned upside down after his wife dies from breast cancer.

A bench in the graveyard where Tony meets with his "graveside confidante" Anne (Penelope Wilton) plays a pivotal part in the show.

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CALM said the bench project is to "help people have those conversations and to show it’s normal to have those feelings".

The charity said: "We know talking to someone you trust really can help.

"Opening up to your mates or family is not an easy thing to do. But starting that conversation can be the start of getting the support you need.

"By helping them better understand and support you, you’re giving yourself – and them – the best chance of doing that."

Ricky Gervais has teamed up with Netflix and CALM to support people grieving

Netflix series After Life was partly filmed in Hampstead - Credit: Netflix

The project has seen 25 benches donated across the UK, including in Highgate Wood, Parliament Hill and Queen's Park.

If you’re experiencing feelings of loss and grief, you can contact the CALM helpline. It is open every day, 5pm-midnight, with free, confidential and practical support on 0800 58 58 58 or on webchat.

Visit: www.thecalmzone.net for more information.

Ricky Gervais posed with the Hampstead Heath bench

Ricky Gervais posed with dog Anti behind the Hampstead Heath bench - Credit: Netflix