Derek Noakes is a character played by Ricky Gervais. Derek first appeared in a short for the 2001 Edinburgh show "Rubbernecker's". The show also featured fellow comedians Jimmy Carr and Robin Ince who were quoted as saying that Derek was their favourite character. At the time of the short, Derek is 39 years old and living with his Nan, and has a passion for animals. He appears to be a religious man and is shown praying before bed, although this is contradicted in the television series.. In 2012, a pilot titled Derek was broadcast on Channel 4, with Ricky reprising the role of the titular character. This was then expanded into a full series in 2013.
Derek is an innocent and warm-hearted man who works at Broadhill Retirement Home. He loves animals, reality TV, autograph hunting, pop music and the elderly. Though Gervais strongly refutes the claim that Derek has learning difficulties, he is portrayed as a shuffling, simple man who has difficulty grasping concepts such as ventriloquism, often gets sidetracked by his own thoughts while speaking and has a rather naive view of the world in general. Despite this, Derek's kindness appears to be the residing quality that his friends praise him for.
In the pilot, we see Derek has taken a particular liking to one of the residents at Broadhill, Joan. He talks about how Joan taught him everything, including how it was more important to be kind than it was to be clever or good-looking, a message that Derek seem to take to his heart. When Joan dies, Derek is completely devastated and she is referred to occasionally during the series.
Derek's best friends are Hannah (played by Kerry Godliman), Dougie (played by Karl Pilkington) and Kev (played by David Earl). Though he appears to get on Dougie's nerves especially with his constant questions regarding who would win in a fight between two animals, all of his friends admire Derek for his upbeat nature, his warm-heartedness and his kindness.
In episode six, Derek is shown to have had a difficult upbringing with his Mother. Derek's Father left the two of them when Derek was just a baby, and Derek's Mother struggled to cope because she still loved him. Derek has a hard time forgiving his Father for leaving the family, and says he learned to cry inside because he didn't want to upset his Mother.
Ricky Gervais has often stated that Derek is his favourite character, surpassing David Brent and Andy Millman. Gervais believes that while he enjoyed playing Brent and Millman, he has a genuine love for Derek as a person.
In early 2011 Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant appeared in a brief promo for Comedy Central to promote The Office (US Series). In the short clip Ricky seems to be portraying a character very similar to that of Derek. This is particularly apparent when he says the mentions "Robbie Williams" and "Jesus".