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Guardian Unlimited to host new Ricky Gervais podcasts

LONDON - Guardian Unlimited is to run three exclusive Ricky Gervais podcasts to coincide with Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, featuring writing partner Stephen Merchant and Xfm radio producer Karl Pilkington.

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The Halloween podcast will be available from the Guardian Unlimited website from today, with further episodes to come on November 23 for Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day.

The podcasts are the latest of Gervais' forays into online media with The Guardian, which racked up more than 2m downloads of his last offering. He has also completed similar ventures for the Daily Mirror's website.

Gervais said: "The free podcasts are a thank you to the people who continued to download the drivel even when we started charging for it. Thank you.

"For your information, I bought a place in Manhattan with my share, Steve bought a new Mercedes with his, and Karl had his water boiler replaced."

The success of Gervais' downloads has been credited with increasing the amount of adults using podcasts by a quarter in the six months ending March 2006.

Neil McIntosh, head of editorial development at Guardian Unlimited, said: "Our recent 'Digination' research revealed that content is king when it comes to podcasts, with comedy the most popular genre, so we are confident this series will be another success."

Gervais helped win Prostate Cancer Charity gold at the Aerial Awards in March, by lending his voice to the organisation's public service campaign.

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