The original UK version of The Office only ran for two seasons and a couple of special episodes, but it certainly made its mark, inspiring a long-running and successful US remake as well as other versions made in countries around the world.
But none have been as iconic as the one that introduced the likes of Ricky Gervais and Martin Freeman to the world.
Here are its top ten episodes:
- 1 10 – Party (Season 2 Episode 3)
- 2 9 – Work Experience (Season 1 Episode 2)
- 3 8 – Motivation (Season 2 Episode 4)
- 4 7 – Christmas Special Part 2
- 5 6 – Appraisals (Season 2 Episode 2)
- 6 5 – Judgement (Season 1 Episode 6)
- 7 4 – New Girl (Season 1 Episode 5)
- 8 3 – Christmas Special Part 1
- 9 2 – Downsize (Season 1 Episode 1)
- 10 1 – Training (Season 1 Episode 4)
10 – Party (Season 2 Episode 3)
Tim’s pranks reach new heights when he hides a dildo in Brent’s office, leading to a legendary scene that thankfully wouldn’t get repeated in too many real offices, while poor Gareth is on the receiving end of another prank.
The party in the title refers to Trudy’s birthday party, which is of course ruined by Brent, who also shows his usual class when he gets some consulting work, only for it to blow up in his face again.
9 – Work Experience (Season 1 Episode 2)
In only the second episode, we see so many weaselly aspects of David Brent’s personality, from the faux feminist outrage when his head gets superimposed on a photo of a naked woman to the even more fake acceptance of it when it turns out to have been made by Finchy.
And then there’s his total inability to be a man when it comes to firing people, hilariously exposed by Jennifer when he’s pretending to be firing Finchy and is really firing the talking clock.
8 – Motivation (Season 2 Episode 4)
“Promise me you’ll remember one thing,” Brent says towards the end of his disastrous motivational speech to the staff, before dancing and miming to The Best by Tina Turner, to their clear and understandable horror.
If that wasn’t memorable enough, how about the agonising and seemingly endless bit seconds earlier when he tried to get everyone to laugh along with him, only for the whole room to stare back in mortified silence?
7 – Christmas Special Part 2
The second half of the Christmas Special, and the last episode of the whole show, this one offered a surprisingly optimistic and romantic happy ending, particularly – and famously – for Dawn and Tim, the on/off couple who provided the heart of The Office.
Even Brent, kind of, got a warm and fuzzy send-off, eventually not only getting a date (after some disasters along the way) but also a laugh from his former staff.
6 – Appraisals (Season 2 Episode 2)
One of the finest characters from The Office is the totally deadpan and laconic Keith, and his best moments come in this episode, with Brent desperately trying to get him enthused about his performance review, with classic lines like “Under ‘weaknesses’ you’ve put ‘eczema’…”
Meanwhile, Brent tries to prove to the Swindon staff that he is more fun than his new boss Neil, with predictably awkward results, while the Dawn-Lee-Tim-Rachel love square continues to take shape.
5 – Judgement (Season 1 Episode 6)
The finale of the first season brought the resolution of the season-long question of whether the Slough or Swindon office would be closed and absorbed into the other and whether Tim would escape the mundanity and go off to do something better.
In the end, of course, both issues are resolved in a way to allow there to be a second season, while Brent also gets accused by Ray Von from Phoenix Nights of ‘discriminating about able-bodied people’.
4 – New Girl (Season 1 Episode 5)
Some of David Brent’s best moments are when he appears in the background of a scene and then inserts himself into it with catastrophic consequences, and this one is probably the finest example.
Having hired an attractive new secretary, he tries to show off to her by showcasing his football skills, but unfortunately these are non-existent, leading to him accidentally headbutting her at reception.
And even that is less cringeworthy than the big night out Brent arranges with Tim, Gareth and Finchy…
3 – Christmas Special Part 1
This Boxing Day special picked up three years after the end of the series, with Brent working as both a travelling salesman and a Z-list celebrity trying to make the most of his infamy from the original documentary about Wernham Hogg.
His pop career had stalled (shock horror), and he’s still popping by the office to annoy Tim and Gareth, and clearly still misses the good old days.
Fortunately for the audience, The Office hadn’t lost any of its magic and this was (for us at least) very much a return to those good old days.
2 – Downsize (Season 1 Episode 1)
A show like The Office needed to set its stall out early on, with no real stars and a mundane premise, and this first episode remains a sitcom classic, setting up the premise of the Slough vs Swindon downsizing and all of the quirks of the main characters as well fitting in lots of laughs.
There’s so many highlights, including Gareth’s phone being encased in jelly and Brent’s hideous management style being demonstrated by his joke about Dawn being fired that ends with her in tears.
We’d never seen anything quite like this on TV before and it perfectly introduced us to some iconic characters and a show that would become so influential over the next 15 years of comedy.
1 – Training (Season 1 Episode 4)
Most of the best moments of The Office come straight from the nightmares of those of us who work in offices, and there’s few phrases to chill the blood quite like ‘training day’.
This episode ramps up the awkward by having David Brent not only actively trying to sabotage the whole thing but also showcasing the musical talents that have, erm, ‘blossomed’ in his big screen outing.
Freelove Freeway anyone?