Gervais has written and directed After Life, in which he also stars, about a man so consumed with grief over the death of his wife that he decides to say and do whatever he wants. The show sees his character Tony take swipes at Corden and Branagh, and show contempt for his colleague, played by Diane Morgan, for her love of US comedian and actor Hart.
Gervais said: “They get it. I hope they know I’ve got nothing against them.
“I’ve met them all, Kevin gave his permission to use a photo. James did an impression of me in his show, I didn’t take it personally, it’s just fun.
“I’ve got no animosity. People will think that though, but as long as they (the subjects) don’t, that’s all I care about.”
Discussing the show’s dark and caustic tone, Gervais said: “I have always dealt with taboo subjects but probably more obviously comedically and this is the most dramatic.”
“It is tragic but it’s still somehow funny all the way through, but then so was my mum’s funeral – we were crying and then laughing at stuff, the speeches and stuff, and that is what humour is for.
“There is no better tool to get you through bad things, there is no better way to discuss bad things than with a sense of humour, it makes you bullet- proof.
“When someone says, ‘That joke is offensive’, I want to say: ‘No, what you’ve got to say is you found it offensive, you have got to own that emotion because that is all you’re doing. You’re telling me how you feel, you’re not putting forward an argument’ and I think no harm can come from discussing taboo subjects.”
Gervais added:“My job as a writer and a director is to make the audience feel as passionately about these things as I do, for whatever reason.
“I don’t care whether they love it or hate it, laugh or cry, get angry, as long as they feel something, that’s it really. I welcome an emotion.”