Ricky Gervais says David Bowie ‘kept illness from everyone’

The comedian said he was exchanging emails with the pop icon just weeks before his death.

Ricky Gervais has revealed he spoke with David Bowie just two weeks before his death – but that the iconic singer kept his poor health a secret.

Gervais told BBC Radio 5 live that he had contacted the musician to say he loved his new album Blackstar – with Bowie quickly responding.

“[His death] was a total surprise. I was emailing him two weeks before, so he must have known. He kept it from everyone,” said Gervais – who was accused of transphobia following a host of Caitlyn Jenner jokes during this year’s Golden Globes.

“What dignity. He was an amazing man. It was something for him and his family. Dignity to the end,” the comedian added.”And amazing work to the end,” Gervais added.

Their friendship had started more than a decade ago after Bowie became a fan of The Office.

“I hung out with him when I went to New York. I hung out with him here when he came to England.”

Bowie went on to appear in Gervais’s comedy series Extras – which proved a hit due to the cameo celebrity guest role in each episode.

Bowie’s episode became particularly popular due to his spoof song about Gervais’s character, Andy.

Bowie writes a song called Little Fat Man after Andy approaches him in a bar.

The lyrics focus on Andy’s “pug-nosed face” and say he “sold his soul for a shot at fame”.

“He was a fan of comedy. It’s funny. I was a failed pop star. He loved comedy,” Gervais explained.

“He was amazing in Extras. I sent him the lyrics and I said: ‘Do something quite retro like Life On Mars and he went: ‘Oh yeah, I’ll just knock off a quick Life On Mars'”.

Bowie died earlier this year, following an 18-month battle with cancer. He was 69 years old.

The star had adopted several personas over the years and made comments about his sexual orientation on several occasions.

Gervais’ new film, Special Correspondents, will be released on Netflix on Friday.