Ricky Gervais has recalled his first meeting with David Bowie and that the late musician later tracked him down afterwards "like the FBI".

The pair befriended each other after Bowie made a cameo appearance on Gervais's show Extras, and Gervais did a stand-up set at the Bowie-curated High Line festival in New York in 2007.

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Speaking to The Telegraph newspaper, the comedian said, "I was invited to a special performance by Bowie at BBC TV Centre,"

"In the green room afterwards, then director-general Greg Dyke bounced over to me and Jane [Fallon, Gervais’ partner] and said, 'You’re a big Bowie fan, aren’t you? Do you want to meet him?’

"I said, ‘Oh, I don’t want to pester him’. He said, ‘No, come on’. Then he shouted ‘Salman! We’re going to say hello to David.’ So, there I was, with the head honcho of the Beeb and Salman Rushdie, chatting to Bowie in his dressing room."

David Bowie

Gervais added that Bowie hadn’t watched his work at their time of meeting, but later contacted him to tell him that he had watched and enjoyed The Office.

"I don’t know how he got my email address," Gervais said. "He’s like the FBI. But he said: ‘So I watched The Office. I laughed. What do I do now?'"

Gervais then took part in the High Line festival gig in New York in 2007.

"I went over, and Madison Square Garden was sold out. I thought it was just going to be this little benefit gig, so I asked Bowie: 'What sort of stuff shall I do?' He said: ‘Anything you like as long as it’s delightfully offensive.'"

Yesterday marked the fifth anniversary of Bowie’s death, and the entertainment world paid tribute to the star over the weekend.

Ricky Gervais

Bowie’s son, filmmaker Duncan Jones, said the family are "all a little sad, coping individually in our own ways," but "it’s both remarkable & delightful that dad is still so clearly loved by so many. Yes, he’s missed… but with so much of ‘him’ in the work he made, he’s clearly still here."

The annual Dublin Bowie Festival, which began yesterday and runs until January 17th, has gone online due to the pandemic and will feature a 50th anniversary celebration of Bowie album Hunky Dory.

The festival will also feature livestreamed Q&A sessions with ex-Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman, producer Tony Visconti and other well-known Bowie collaborators, tribute musical performances; a Hunky Dory listening party, and a Bowie-themed quiz.