Gervais' Net show has had 180,000 downloads

A disgruntled Ricky Gervais may have gone home empty-handed from the British Comedy Awards last week, but he can have the last laugh, as his new Internet audio show is No. 1 on both sides of the pond in Apple’s podcast charts.

“The Ricky Gervais Show,” available exclusively through the Guardian Unlimited Web site, the online arm of the daily British newspaper, topped the podcast charts in the U.K., U.S. and Canada, totalling 180,000 downloads in its first week. The first 30-minute show in a 12-week run went live Dec. 5.

Gervais approached the Guardian, the first British newspaper to offer podcasts, with the idea of creating an audio show designed specifically for that medium.

The Guardian Unlimited, which draws 40% of its readers from the U.S., has already experimented with podcast coverage from the G8 summit, and the women’s soccer World Cup looks set to continue to blaze the trail.

Promises Emily Bell, chief of Guardian Unlimited: “We will be building on this in 2006.”

The BBC pledged $398 million to new-media projects in June, but it’s taking a different approach to podcasting: Pubcaster is focusing on making existing programs available to consumers “wherever and whenever,” a rep points out.

The Beeb’s podcasting experiment kicked off in September 2004 with downloads of Melvyn Bragg‘s BBC Radio 4 history show “In Our Time” and will ramp up in 2006.

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