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Ricky Gervais to return as Golden Globes host for fourth time in 2016

Ricky Gervais

Actor and comedian Ricky Gervais will host the Golden Globe Awards for the fourth time next year.

(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Never say never. After swearing he would never host the Golden Globe Awards again, Ricky Gervais has agreed to emcee the telecast for the fourth time in January.

The British comedian hosted the show for three consecutive years from 2010 to 2012 before Amy Poehler and Tina Fey took over the duties through this year.

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That Gervais would take on the role again comes as somewhat of a surprise, given his public assertion on his blog that he’d told his agent “to never let me be persuaded to [host] again.”

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“It’s like a parachute jump,” the 54-year-old wrote in 2012. “You can only really enjoy it in retrospect when you realize you didn’t die and it was quite an amazing thing to do.”

Poehler and Fey were pretty much universally beloved as a hosting duo, but Gervais proved to be more polarizing. 

His barbed sense of humor had him aiming at not only familiar targets such as Charlie Sheen and Mel Gibson. In 2012, he made a risque double entendre involving Jodie Foster’s sexuality and her movie “The Beaver.” He even took a dig at his own host, saying he had to help Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. President Philip Berk "off the toilet and pop his teeth in.”

The tone was so acerbic that presenter Robert Downey Jr. even called Gervais out on stage: “Aside from the fact that it’s been unusually mean-spirited with mildly sinister undertones, I’d say the vibe of the show is pretty good.”

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Berk would later say the comedian had gone too far, and The Times’ Mary McNamara argued in her review that the actor was “bullying” his audience.

“Poking fun at big stars is in the job description,” she wrote. "But televised teasing requires a lightness of touch or else it quickly becomes bullying.”

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Still, NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt was effusive about Gervais’ return in a statement released Monday. ”Disarming and surprising, Ricky is ready to honor — and send up — the best work of the year in film and television,” Greenblatt said. “Fasten your seats belts.” 

That’s likely because Gervais’ hosting stints proved to be ratings boons for the network. In 2010, total viewership jumped 14% to 17 million viewers -- up from 14.9 million in 2009.

Gervais, who most recently starred in the Netflix series “Derek,” isn’t the only veteran host returning this awards season. Last week, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that Chris Rock would host the Oscars this February -- his second go-around in the role.

The 73rd Golden Globes will take place Jan. 10, 2016, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel and air on NBC.

Times staff writer Steve Zeitchik contributed to this report.

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