Ricky Gervais's After Life inspired Nottingham bench vandalised

By Samantha Noble & Sonia Kataria
BBC News

Vandalised After Life benchImage source, Nottingham City Council
Image caption,
Nottingham City Council said it wanted to replace the bench in the Arboretum

A bench inspired by the final series of a Ricky Gervais TV show about loss has been broken into bits by vandals.

The After Life bench in Nottingham's Arboretum was one of 25 donated to councils by streaming service Netflix and suicide prevention charity Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM).

Nottingham City Council said the vandalism over the weekend was "unacceptable and heart-breaking".

Nottinghamshire Police said it was a "despicable act" and was investigating.

Image source, Netflix
Image caption,
The benches are engraved with a quote from the show "Hope is Everything"

Audra Wynter, portfolio holder for highways, transport and parks at the city council, said: "We were devastated to see that the After Life bench, which has recently been installed at the Arboretum was destroyed over the weekend.

"This is mindless vandalism and in no way reflects how people in Nottingham look out for each other.

"We thank the member of public who alerted us to this and took the time to collect all the damaged sections.

"The next step will be to look at how we can replace this bench as quickly as possible."

The authority said the bench was donated to the park in January via the Ricky Gervais show Afterlife.

Ms Wynter added: "It's been a symbol of hope and support to many people off the back of the series, which shone a light on loss, bereavement and mental health."

'It's sickening'

Insp Paul Ferguson said the damaged parts of the bench were "left strewn on the park" and found on Sunday morning.

"It's sickening that someone would destroy this bench of hope," he said.

"Someone will know who was responsible. We will do everything to identify the offenders who have done this despicable act."

He added the exact time the bench was vandalised was not known.

The force has urged anyone who saw what happened or has any information to contact them.

Image caption,
In Nottingham, there is another Bench of Hope in Highfields Park in the city

In After Life, the main character Tony, played by Gervais, is often seen sitting on a bench in the churchyard where his wife is buried.

A woman played by Penelope Wilton, whose husband is also buried in the cemetery, often sits beside him.

The bench is the setting of their conversations across all three series, as Tony deals with his grief.

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