CringeComedy BritCom by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, starring Gervais as an out-of-work actor scraping by as an extra in the British film industry, with Ashley Jensen as his socially inept friend and fellow extra, and Merchant as his spectacularly incompetent agent. In the second season the story evolved as Gervais' character became the star of a popular but critically-reviled sitcom.

Packed a massive array of celebrity guests into its twelve episodes, and in fact the (officially untitled) episodes have often been referred to by names such as "Kate Winslet" or "Ben Stiller". Perhaps more impressively, the show has been extremely successful in getting actors to play versions of themselves who are incredibly conceited, or vicious, or vain, or stupid, or otherwise horrible human beings.

Concluded with a ChristmasEpisode, which gave it an identical run to ''Series/{{The Office|UK}}''.
!!This show provides examples of:
* AdamWesting: Pretty much the sole purpose for any high profile guest star.
** Special mention has to go to Shaun "Barry off ''EastEnders''" Williamson AsHimself, Darren's only client besides Andy, whose entire character is based on the idea that [[IAmNotSpock he's only recognizable as his character from the show]] (he answers to "Barry" more often than his own name) and has accepted that he'll probably never get hired again.
* ArtifactTitle: The show was originally about two extras, hence the name. As of Season Two, Andy is no longer an extra. Although Maggie continues to work as an extra, it is no longer the main plotline of the show, and even so, there is only one of her.
* AuthorTract: In the ChristmasEpisode. Andy Millman's breakdown on ''BigBrother'' and subsequent tirade against the empty pursuit of fame is expressing - nearly word for word - Gervais's own views on the subject as evidenced by many interviews.
* BreakTheCutie:
** When a child extra in a war film trips up and ruins the shot by laughing, Ben Stiller snaps him out of it by asking how he would feel if he shot his mother in the face right in front of him. He even demonstrates with a prop gun.
** Maggie in the ChristmasEpisode, who quits being an extra, moves into a horrible one-room flat, hovers near poverty and ends up bursting into tears in a Carphone Warehouse.
* BreakTheHaughty: Andy being publically humiliated into admitting that he actually doesn't have the leverage to cancel "his" sitcom as a protest against ExecutiveMeddling.
** Also, his agent Trey telling him in no uncertain terms that he can either have fame and money, or integrity and respect - because only a handful of people in the world get to have both. What does Andy want? He's forced to admit "fame and money" from between his clenched teeth.
* BritishBrevity: Just twelve episodes plus a Christmas special. Some Hollywood actors were hopeful that it would continue to a third season just so they could appear on the show. Robert De Niro, in particular, hoped to appear a second time because he felt his appearance didn't turn out as well as he'd hoped.
* CampGay: Damon, the staff writer/producer for ''When the Whistle Blows''. His campness irritates Andy so much that he mocks him behind his back, leading to an embarrassing confrontation. Also "Bunny" Bunton, the closeted theater director.
* {{Catchphrase}}: "Are you having a laugh?" "Is he/she having a laugh?" It was originally meant as a one-time line put in by Andy for the show but the producer loved it so much that he decided to make it a catchphrase. It sold well on the sitcom, [[spoiler:but when Andy tried to use it in a theatre production he just ruined (since he refused to engage in an on-stage kiss with the other male lead), the audience was silent, leaving Andy redfaced]].
* CaughtWithYourPantsDown: One episode has Andy walk in on his agent masturbating to a pen with a naked woman's picture on it. His agent's secretary then comes in and takes the pen from him... and is also masturbating to it when Andy leaves.
* CausticCritic: Poor sitcom of Andy.
** MarkKermode and Germaine Greer (playing themselves) are shown lambasting "When the Whistle Blows" on TV. And then there was [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ulb8DlhTZoU this promotional clip]] for ''Extras'' itself.
* CelebrityStar: The show runs on this. Spoofed when Music/{{Coldplay}}'s Chris Martin gets an illogical guest spot on Andy's show. "What are you doing here, in a factory in Wigan? It's ''mental''."
* ClassicallyTrainedExtra: Greg Lindley-Jones, Andy's {{Jerkass}} colleague. In the ChristmasEpisode, he rubs salt in Andy's wounds by achieving both of the things Andy wants and is bluntly informed he can never hope to have simultaneously: popular fame and a reputation as a serious and talented artist.
* {{Cloudcuckoolander}}: Daniel Radcliffe, of all people.
** Also, Maggie who frequently comes up with extremely bizarre {{non sequitur}}s.
* CrazyJealousGuy: Warwick Davis gets violent when Andy makes a pass at his wife.
* CringeComedy:
** David Bowie's "serenade" to Andy.
** Andy has a stab at theatre respectability by appearing in a play directed by Sir Ian [=McKellen=], only to blow it big time when [[spoiler: he can't kiss his male co-star in front of his manly school buddies]].
** The scene where Maggie tries to hide her beloved childhood golliwog doll from the black guy she's invited back to her flat has a shot at the title...
** The scene where Andy tells Maggie to ask for his autograph in front of his attractive neighbor is almost unwatchable.
** Les Dennis' incredibly pathetic appearance is exquisitely painful to watch.
** Andy trying to pass himself off as a Catholic in front a room full of'em while knowing almost nothing about the religion.
** Every episode has at least one sequence that makes you want to curl up and die, most notably Andy's attempts to worm his way out of visiting a terminally ill child at the hospital.
** Robert Lindsay cringing himself with his narcissism in front of the same ill child.
** Maggie confusing Creator/SamuelLJackson as Laurence Fishburne is hard to watch...
* TheCynic: Andy.
* TheDanza: Parodied. Keith Chegwin's character in his guest appearance on ''When the Whistle Blows'' is renamed when he has trouble responding to Alfie, the character's original name.
* DirtyOldMan: Patrick Stewart. He shows Andy a screenplay he's written, which is entirely an excuse to ogle naked women.
* DumbBlonde:
** Maggie, who is constantly slow on the uptake and extremely socially inept.
** Also Darren Lamb, who is utterly incompetent as an agent, but just smart enough for Carphone Warehouse.
** Keith Chegwin definitely qualifies in his portrayal of himself on ''When the Whistle Blows''. When he has trouble responding to cues for his character, Alfie, Andy decides that it would be best to change the characters name to [[TheDanza Keith]]. [[HilarityEnsues Hilarity continues]].
* DumbassHasAPoint: As clueless as Maggie is, she's the one who allows Bunny's daughter to see how unhappy she is as well as the person to finally point out to Andy that he'll never be able to achieve enough to satisfy himself.
** Darren actually manages to convince Andy to stick with a play where he plays a gay man, pointing out how much acclaim Tom Hanks, Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger received after doing ''Philadelphia'' and ''Brokeback Mountain'' respectively.
* ExecutiveMeddling: In-series; Andy's smart satirical show gets mutated by producers for mass appeal into a brainless {{catchphrase}}-driven piece of dreck. Andy's original concept is suspiciously similar to ''Series/{{The Office|UK}}'', so ''When the Whistle Blows'' is a parody of what could have happened if it had been taken in the opposite direction.
* FanMyopia: InUniverse, '''no one''' has ever heard of ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'', so Patrick Stewart has to keep reminding them when he says "Make it so".
* GreenEyedMonster: Orlando Bloom seethes with jealousy over Johnny Depp:
--> ''Ooh, look at me, I make art house movies! [[Film/EdwardScissorhands Ooh, I've got scissors for hands]]! [[Film/CharlieAndTheChocolateFactory Willy Wonka? Johnny Wanker!]]''
* GrammarNazi: Diana Rigg repeatedly corrects Daniel Radcliffe on the ''correct'' way to ask for the errant condom he accidentally fired at her head.
* HesitationEqualsDishonesty: Andy asks Maggie if she likes his new sitcom:
--> "''Too long a pause! If you're going to lie, lie '''[[DoWrongRight well]]'''!''"
* HerCodenameWasMarySue: Patrick Stewart's blatant AuthorAvatar ParodySue, who only exists so Patrick can be the best at everything and [[TheNudifier get to see women naked.]]
* ILoveYouBecauseICantControlYou: Orlando Bloom becomes fascinated by Maggie because she claims she doesn't find him attractive. He spends the rest of the episode trying to woo her.
* ItsAllAboutMe: Most of the featured guest stars display some degree of this. Andy himself sometimes qualifies, especially in the Christmas special.
* JerkWithAHeartOfGold: Andy is definitely an asshole, but he is significantly less of an ass than those around him think he is. And he has occasionally shown himself to be caring, creative, and even tender (at least to Maggie).
* KafkaKomedy
* AManIsNotAVirgin: Daniel Radcliffe clearly runs on this trope in his episode, given his desperation to get laid. He does claim to have had sex, although it's somewhat doubtful. Averted with Andy, who lost his virginity at 28 to a woman who looked like Ronnie Corbett.
* MeanCharacterNiceActor: Pretty much every celebrity is a lot nicer than the bastard versions of themselves they play here.
* MethodActing: Deliciously parodied. Ian [=McKellen's=] acting method is to [[CaptainObvious pretend to be like the person he is portraying, and imagine how that character would act in that situation.]]
--> "If we were to draw a graph of my process, of my method, it would be something like this: Sir Ian, Sir Ian, Sir Ian, action, wizard YOU SHALL NOT PASS!, cut. Sir Ian, Sir Ian, Sir Ian.
* TheMillstone: Darren Lamb. And occasionally Andy himself.
* MoneyDearBoy: Parodied by Chris Martin of Coldplay: he's spends every scene he is in plugging their (then) new greatest hits album on everything from a sitcom to a public service announcement about starving children to his shirt.
* NoFameNoWealthNoService:
** In one episode, Andy is able to use his newfound fame to get into the VIP area of a club, only to be thrown out when DavidBowie and his entourage arrive. When he tries to get back in, the bouncer refuses because he's still never heard of him.
** In the Christmas special, Andy's ability to get a reservation at the Ivy is used to indicate how his career is going at any given point.
* NoTitle: To the episodes.
* TheNudifier: Patrick Stewart wants to make a movie in which he plays a character with awesome psychic powers... that are used solely to cause women's clothes to fall off.
* OfCorsetsFunny: Andy wears a girdle to an audition to look younger and fitter than he is. It does not go well.
* OnlyKnownByTheirNickname: Shaun Williamson is called Barry by all of the characters except Andy.
* OnlySaneMan: Andy
* OohMeAccentsSlipping: Happens in-show to Andy playing Ray when the futility of what he's doing saps his focus. Especially noticeable when Chris Martin cameos.
* OverlyLongGag: Patrick Stewart's scene, in which he explains the plot of his new screenplay, about a man with telekinetic powers. He describes four or five different scenes, and the punchline (he uses his powers to remove a woman's clothes) is the same every time.
* PervertDad: Bunny is repeatedly seen performing with his daughter in ways that make other characters cringe and look away. The fact that he's gay kinda averts this, though.
* PetTheDog: Greg is a grade-A asshole, but he didn't ''have'' to tell Maggie that she could apply for a supplementary performance fee (and in the same scene he makes Andy genuinely laugh).
* ShowWithinAShow: Virtually every episode is based around the making of one, although Andy's sitcom ''When the Whistle Blows'' is the only one we actually get to see.
* SmugSnake: Greg, who, though the show doesn't have any out-and-out villains, absolutely ''loves'' patronising Andy and making him jealous, and goes out of his way to embarrass him.
* SpecialGuest: OnceAnEpisode. As noted above, Chris Martin's appearance is specifically parodying this concept.
* SpoiledBrat: Andy. He's always complaining about how much people have ruined his sitcom and how terrible his acting career is going, even though the BBC took the risk of letting a complete newcomer co-write and star in his own sitcom, when a massive percentage of aspiring actors don't even come close to that stage in their careers in their lives.
** And even though he hates the sitcom and everything it stands for, he obviously has no objections when it comes to spending all of the money that it made him.
* StraightGay: The BBC producer of ''When the Whistle Blows'', revealing himself as such after Andy insults the CampGay staff writer Damon.
* TakeThat: "When The Whistle Blows" is this to shows who rely on [[Series/LittleBritain wigs and catchphrases]], and old-fashioned [[WorkCom Work Coms]] with broad humor and obnoxious laugh tracks. It takes a special crack at ''Series/DinnerLadies'', with one character obviously doing a Victoria Wood impression.
** An affectionate and tongue-in-cheek one occurs when Patrick Stewart is utterly bewildered to learn that Andy isn't married, doesn't have a girlfriend, lives on his own... and ''doesn't'' watch ''Franchise/StarTrek''?
* UnsympatheticComedyProtagonist: Andy has his unlikeable side.
* VillainousBreakdown: Ben Stiller somehow manages to let himself get nudged into one of these when he's firing Andy; he just can't let Andy go without showing off, which backfires on him when it's pointed out that his constant boasting about his conquests leaves out one very important detail:
-->'''Andy:''' Bye, nerd.\\
'''Ben Stiller:''' Oh, I'm a nerd?!\\
'''Andy:''' Yes, you are.\\
'''Ben Stiller:''' I'm a nerd! I've kissed Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore! I, uh, I slapped Jennifer Aniston's butt!\\
'''Maggie:''' In ''films''.\\
'''Ben Stiller:''' It still counts! ''[Stomps away, turns, realizes the entire cast and crew is staring at him; defensively]'' It still counts! ... It still counts. I did it. ''[Stomps off]''
* WaitingForABreak: Darren Lamb works at Carphone Warehouse on Saturdays as Maternity Leave cover, with the implication this is how he actually makes any money as he is a rather incompetent agent. Ironically usually it's agents who get people out of that situation, not in it themselves.