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Ricky Gervais helps reveal pain of cell phone salesmen

The star of the British original "The Office" is helping to create a new sitcom based around the joys of working in a soul-sucking mall cell phone store.

Ever wander into one of those Verizon or AT&T stores, attempt to have a conversation with one of the smartly dressed salespeople, and whisper to yourself, "What kind of emotionally awkward humans end up working in a place like this?"

Well, I have good news for you.

Ricky Gervais, who made David Brent perhaps the most painfully sympathetic character in modern television in the original BBC version of "The Office," has been asking himself the very same question. "Phone Shop" a new British sitcom, enjoys Gervais as its script editor (he reportedly took one look at the idea and volunteered his involvement). The pilot airs Friday evening on Channel 4.

Phone Shop
"Phone Shop" will explore the life of salespeople in a soul-sucking mall cell phone shop. Channel 4

Unlike "The Office," which gained existential pleasure from the old-world business of paper manufacture, "Phone Shop" is set in a mall cell phone store.

The pilot episode follows the troubles experienced by trainee salesman Christopher, who has to sell a cell phone by 6 p.m. as part of his one-day trial.

Clearly this series will reside in the emotional halfway house that has just two difficult residents--comedy and tragedy. And one wonders just what impression will be left by the arduous task of pushing yet more portable technology on a populace that bristles with sensory overload.

I am deeply concerned that the cell phone business will not come out so beautifully in "Phone Shop."

You see, The Independent quoted Angela Jain, head of the E4 Channel, which has bought the series. And beneath her words I sense a little cackling: "Everyone's got a mobile phone and has had some encounter in a phone shop. It's also about those difficult dead-end jobs that everyone has at least once in their lives."

So the Droid and the iPhone are being pushed by people in dead-end jobs? What has become of our brave new, smartphoned world?