Ricky Gervais' comedy drama Derek has landed a full series, despite early criticisms that the show poked fun at vulnerable people.

UK TV's Channel 4 has commissioned a run of the show - starring and written by Gervais - which was first screened as a one-off in April.

The series is billed as a "bittersweet comedy drama about a group of outsiders living on society's margins".

Gervais plays Derek, a "tender, innocent" care worker at a retirement home, who enjoys autograph hunting.

Comedian Stewart Lee had suggested that the character made light of the "mentally handicapped".

But Gervais has since defended his creation, saying he does not have a specific disability, adding: "He's different. But then so are a lot of people.

"He's not the smartest tool in the box but he's cleverer than Father Dougal, and not as different as Mr Bean."

Channel 4's head of comedy, Shane Allen, said: "Ricky is a leading voice in British comedy and through Derek he captures and reflects something of the spirit of modern society.

"A kind-hearted character in a world which TV normally shies away from, it feels like a perfect new direction for Ricky."

PA