Globes host Ricky Gervais explains ceremony absence

Ricky Gervais US critics have been divided over Gervais's performance

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Golden Globes host Ricky Gervais has spoken about his disappearance from stage during the US awards ceremony.

The British comedian left the podium for nearly an hour, prompting viewers to question if he was being reprimanded for his jokes about the stars.

But in a statement, Gervais said: "I did every single introduction I was meant to. There just happened to be a long gap."

He added: "The atmosphere backstage and at the after show was great."

Gervais, hosting the gala for the second year in succession, opened the show in strident style saying: "It's going to be a night of partying and heavy drinking - or as Charlie Sheen calls it, breakfast."

He went on to poke fun at the likes of Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie and introduced Robert Downey Jr, saying: "Many of you in this room probably know him best from such facilities as the Betty Ford Clinic and Los Angeles County Jail."

'Best jokes'

It prompted Downey Jr to quip: "Aside from the fact that it's been hugely mean-spirited, with mildly sinister undertones, I'd say the vibe of the show is pretty good so far, wouldn't you?"

Oscar winner Tom Hanks said: "We recall when Ricky Gervais was a slightly chubby but very kind comedian," to which his Toy Story 3 co-star Tim Allen added: "Neither of which he is now."

In the latter part of the show, having been off stage for a lengthy period of time, a more subdued Gervais appeared, prompting speculation he had been told to tone down his act.

But Gervais insisted: "I was allowed to choose who I would introduce in advance. I obviously chose presenters who I had the best jokes for, and who I knew had a good sense of humour.

"Everyone took it well and the atmosphere backstage and at the after show was great."

US critics appeared divided, with The Los Angeles Times saying his jokes set "a corrosive tone" for the night.

But Entertainment Weekly praising "the sort of funny rudeness and effrontery... that make an awards show such as the Golden Globes engaging to watch."

According to overnight viewing figures, the ceremony was seen by almost 17 million people in the US, up on last year's audience.

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