The series is set in Slough in a small branch office of Wernham Hogg, a paper merchant run by the odious David Brent (played by Gervais). Together with his assistant, the weekend warrior Gareth Keenan, Brent manages the office in a way that will be depressingly familiar to many corporate workers. Desperately trying to emulate his best friend and mentor, the smooth-talking salesman Finchy, Brent tries to be his employees' best friend and tyrant to equal degrees. Of course, he fails miserably.
Other denizens of the office include the bored receptionist Dawn, who although engaged to the rather dim Lee is constantly flirting with Tim, perhaps the most likeable character in the show; Ricky, a young college graduate on his first job, and Donna, one of David Brent's friends' children who stays with him while going out with Ricky.
The series' humour largely revolves around the verbal gaffes of Brent, sometimes dubbed "Brentisms" by fans, and his minion Keenan. There is no laugh track, and various touches make it resemble a low-budget fly-on-the-wall documentary, such as talking-head pieces to camera (often Brent with a bit of self-aggrandisation) and angless that suggest a crew trying to keep out of everyone's way whilst capturing the goings-on. Widely acclaimed as the funniest, if bleakest, show in years, two six episode series of The Office have been made, amidst rumours that the show should be exported to the United States. Those rumours came true when NBC announced in 2003 that they are retooling the show for the US market.
Gervais and Merchant have stated that there will be no further series of the show, but wrote a final two 45-minute episodes, which first aired in the United Kingdom on BBC ONE on Boxing Day and December 27, 2003. The shows were set two years after the events of the first two series, and the plots revolved around the office's preparation for their Christmas party, and Brent's attempts to build a career based on the tiny amount of fame that his appearance in the first two series of the show earnt him.