Life’s Too Short is a sitcom series created and written by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant from an idea by Warwick Davis, and is described by Gervais as being about “the life of a showbiz dwarf” with Davis playing a fictionalised version of himself. Gervais and Merchant appear in cameos as themselves.
The genesis of the show came when Davis worked with Gervais and Merchant in an episode of the second series of Extras, when he co-starred with Daniel Radcliffe. During filming, Davis told them about the trials of life for a man of 3 feet 6 inches in height, such as having to use a mop handle to reach objects on the high shelves in supermarkets, and people touching him for luck as if he were a leprechaun. Gervais told reporters: “The real Warwick tells us these great stories. They’re comedy gold.” Stephen Merchant commented of Davis that “he helped create the idea and came to us with the story.” When asked by an interviewer if the title of the show offended him, Davis stated that far from being offended, he was, in fact, the person who had come up with it.
Gervais and Merchant approached the BBC about developing a show centred on a character based on Davis.
Gervais described it as “A cross between Extras and Curb your Enthusiasm and One Foot in the Grave but with a dwarf. That is out and out funny.”In an interview with Entertainment Weekly he elaborated: “It’s a single camera sitcom following the trials and tribulations of ‘Warwick Davis, showbiz dwarf.’ Warwick is playing a twisted version of himself. He’s quite conceited and arrogant and manipulative. And he runs a [small person] talent agency, which he does in real life. Me and Steve Merchant pop up as ourselves, just to add some realism. Warwick comes round and says, ‘Doing any more Extras? Got any work?’ And we go, ‘Ooh, no, not really.’ And we try to get rid of him. It’s fantastic. We did some casting today.
I’m off to America for some shows and then I come back after that and we shoot a little pilot, just like we did with The Office ten years ago, and then we’ll see.”
In an interview with Jonathan Ross, Davis said that his character is egotistical and suffers from small man syndrome,while Gervais said of the character “he refuses to live his life as a disabled person. We’re making him empowered but also give him these foibles”. He also described it as “Third in our trilogy of TV sitcoms … another naturalist observational comedy, dealing with everyday problems, human foibles and social faux pas … but with a dwarf.” Gervais also said of the series and of Davis’ character: “It’s returning to our Office roots of fake documentary … It follows the life of a showbiz dwarf, Warwick Davis, who’s really a showbiz dwarf. He plays a twisted version of himself and he’s doing this documentary to try to get his career back on track. He has a big tax bill, he’s going through a messy divorce and he’s trying to get back his Hollywood career. He’s a conniving, back-biting little Napoleon.”