- For the American Equivalent see: Pilot.
A documentary crew films the everyday activities of the workers at Wernham Hogg Paper Company in the dreary English town of Slough. The regional manager is David Brent, an irritating middle-aged man who thinks he's as likeable as entertaining. Amongst Brent's employees are Dawn Tinsley, his reluctant receptionist; Tim Canterbury, a bored but well liked sales representative; and Gareth Keenan, a humorless Territorial Army veteran and assistant to the regional manager.
Earlier in the day, David's supervisor Jennifer Taylor-Clarke visits him to tell him that Wernham Hogg can't afford to run both a Swindon branch and a Slough branch. One of the branches will eventually be merged with the other, depending on which is more efficient. David panics at the prospect of losing the Slough branch and all his employees becoming redundant, but promises to keep Jennifer's message secret. However, rumors soon spread around the office.
After hiring a new forklift driver, David shows new temp Ricky Howard around the office. During Ricky's tour, Tim sparks conflict with Gareth after discovering his stapler in jelly. Rather than punishing Tim, David attempts to make comedic light of the situation. Later, after Gareth forbids Tim from using his stapler, Tim takes it and ends up dropping it out of a window after an argument between the two. Tim then makes a barrier between his and Gareth's desks by using box files, and forces Gareth to use a phone in order to speak to him.
At lunchtime, David interrupts Dawn's lunch so he can tell her about a testicular cancer scare he had earlier.
After various employees confront David about the merging rumors, he holds a meeting to explain the situation and promises that they won't be made redundant. However, Dawn tells him that their branch is the one in danger of being merged, which results in other employees being worried about losing their jobs.
Later, David introduces Ricky to an Asian employee named Sanj, who according to David, can do a brilliant Ali G impression. However, Sanj tells David that he's mistaken him for another Asian employee, but David feels offended and calls Sanj racist.
At the end of the day, Tim invites Dawn to go out with him and some other employees for an "end of the week drink". Unfortunately, their conversation is interrupted by Lee, Dawn's fiancé.
In an attempt to display his sense of humor, David tells Dawn that she is being fired for stealing Post-it notes. When Dawn cries, he subsequently backtracks claiming it was only a joke. Ricky watches, silently horrified at the behavior of his new boss.
For quotes see: Downsize Quotes.
- Pilot is based on this episode.
- Ricky Gervais as David Brent
- Martin Freeman as Tim Canterbury
- Mackenzie Crook as Gareth Keenan
- Lucy Davis as Dawn Tinsley
- Ewen Macintosh as Keith Bishop
- Joel Beckett as Lee
- Oliver Chris as Ricky Howard
- Stirling Gallacher as Jennifer Taylor-Clarke
- Paul Sharma as Sanj
- Robin Hooper as Malcolm