Ricky Gervais has revealed his latest TV smash hit show was born out of the biggest fear of his life - losing his beloved partner Jane Fallon.
Gervais is back on our screens on Friday for the second season of his smash hit comedy-drama After Life on Netflix, with the comedy giant who shot to fame playing the role of David Brent in The Office telling the Independent.ie that his latest alter-ego was dreamed up from his worst nightmare.
Playing the role of broken local newspaper journalist Tony as he battles to overcome the tragic loss of his beloved wife Lisa due to cancer, the writer and star of After Life admits the inspiration was very personal.
"When I first came up with the idea, the germ of it was imagining what it is like for a man who loses everything," Gervais told us.
"For me, that is the love of your life, your soul mate. The person you just couldn't live without. I want to die before Jane does. I know that's selfish, but that's the truth because I don't want to be here without her.
"There is a line from the first season of After Life and one of the characters tells Tony that she would rather live missing him than him missing me.
"That is such a huge burden to carry. She would rather take on all that pain and grief and be alive rather than die and let him come to terms with it. She loves him that much and doesn't want him to be in any pain. That is beautiful and selfless.
"Losing my life partner is my biggest nightmare, for sure and the reality is everything I do is semi-autobiographical. There are parts of me in David Brent, well, in all of us, actually. Everyone wants to be loved, everyone wants to be popular, everyone wants to be invited to the party, you know?
"But this character Tony in After Life is probably the closest to me. We can all imagine being in his position, losing his wife and being left wondering if it's worth carrying on. That's why this show has had the biggest reaction of anything I've ever done.
"The reality is, we are all going to go through the same s*** at some point in our lives. We will lose loved ones, we will all die and in the end, that's the reality. You just have to make the most of your life on the way to getting there.
"I think that's what After Life does. It reminds us that we are mortal. There is no good time for bad news, but it is all coming our way and loss is part of life, a big part of it.
"What is different right now is more people are thinking about this because of the coronavirus. We usually take these things for granted, the NHS, the porters at hospitals, the staff at nursing homes, but we can't take them for granted ever again and hopefully we never will after what we are going through now.
"This is a sitcom that touches on a very important and significant subject in all of our lives and that's death. It just so happens that there is a lot of it around right now."
After Life 2 premiered to rapturous reviews on Friday, with Gervais believing the success of the Netflix hit is due to the honesty that shines through in his character Tony.
"I don't like the shows I do to have neat endings," he continues. "Not everyone has a kiss and lives happily every after.
"It might work for George Clooney and Michelle Pfeiffer, but it's not reality. When you see a story that ends with... and then they all lived happily ever after. Well, sadly, that is not real life.
"All our lives are up and down, but Tony's is even more up and down given where he is coming from. You don't wake up and think; that's it, I'm better today and I'll never have a problem again.
"Maybe that is why After Life has resonated with so many people and honestly, I've never had a reaction to anything I've done that compares to After Life. People come up to me in the street and say it has helped them to understand their grief over the loss of a loved one and that has been amazing. It's another reason why I might do a third series."
The second instalment of After Life takes you on a journey that highlights so many of the best qualities of the human soul, with smiles and tears married brilliantly by the creative mind of Gervais.
After Life 2 is another triumph for Gervais and it lands on our TV at a moment when already tender heartstrings are primed to be plucked as only this show can.
All episodes of After Life 2 are available on Netflix now.