"Office" star Gervais tops charts with podcast

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"Office" star Gervais tops charts with podcast
LONDON (Reuters) - Ricky Gervais, creator and star of the hit BBC comedy "The Office", has topped the charts in the United States and Britain with his podcast, a booming new format that lets users download audio or video programming.

Gervais' podcast also features his "Office" co-writer Stephen Merchant and their former radio producer Karl Pilkington, as the trio take on a succession of offbeat topics from vampires to a regular segment called "Monkey News".

The free half-hour show — essentially a radio program that can be downloaded to a computer or portable audio player — now occupies the top spot on the podcast charts of the US and UK iTunes Music Stores run by Apple Computer, whose popular iPod digital music player was the basis for the podcast name.

"The Ricky Gervais Show" has been downloaded more than 180,000 times in the last week from the website of UK newspaper the Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/rickygervais).

"When I heard that we were the number one podcast, my first thought was that it wasn't a fair fight as The Office is shown in over 80 countries around the world," Gervais told the Guardian. "Steve's first thought was: 'why aren't we charging for it?', and Karl's first thought was: 'Is a chimp allowed to win the lottery?'"

Other popular podcasts include "Tiki Bar TV", described as "forbidden cocktails & swingin' babes in swank bachelor pad", which is also in the iTunes top 10 in both the UK and the United States.

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