Ricky Gervais, Karl Pilkington and Stephen Merchant are producing a new series, but they're not really calling it a "podcast." All references I've seen and heard call it an "audiobook." The first installment is available from iTunes and Audible now, and the second installment is coming later this month.
This is slightly different than what has come before, which could be a good thing.
This series is called "The Ricky Gervais Guide To...". Each installment sticks to a single topic -- installment one is "Medicine," and installment two is "Natural History."
I am guessing that this new format is a response to people's reactions to the fifth podcast series.
First, the fifth series wasn't even a series, really. All the episodes came out at once and were not even available as individual episodes, rather there was one file released that contained all the episodes in one program. In fact, the first two "episodes" were just one long episode interrupted in the middle by announcements of "That's the end of the first episode" and "Here's the second episode."
Second, the fifth series jumped around a lot and didn't seem to be about anything in particular.
So sticking to individual topics and releasing the installments one by one over a period of weeks could represent a big improvement. I've listened to about half of the first installment, and it is decidedly more focused than the fifth series, and is more entertaining overall.
I have not yet gotten to the controversial part. Apparently, Ricky makes a comment that people who have surgery in order to lose weight are "lazy fat fucking pigs" who should "stop eating, get off your arse and go for a run."
Ricky's response on his blog is as follows:
"I heard someone on the radio once say that they were tired of the prejudice aimed at the overweight. They said something like 'you're not allowed to make fun of gay people, so why are you allowed to make fun of fat people? It's the same thing.'
"It's not the same thing though, is it? Gay people are born that way. They didn't work at becoming gay. Fat people became fat because they would rather be that way than stop eating so much. They had to eat and eat to get fat. Then, when they were fat they had to keep up the eating to stay fat. For gayness to be the same as fatness, gay people would have to start off straight but then ween themselves onto cock. Soon they're noshing all day getting gayer and gayer. They've had more than enough cock... they're full... they're just sucking for the sake of it. Now they're overgay, and frowned upon by people who can have the occasional cock but not over indulge.
"When a doctor tells me that that's how you become gay, I'll stop making jokes about fat people."
I don't agree with everything he says here, and I think he's oversimplifying the situation by assuming that the only reason people are overweight is because they can't control their eating habits.
But remember that this is a man who has made fat jokes about himself all along. The previously referenced Telegraph article quotes him as saying of himself this past September, "'I laugh about being fat, but I should be ashamed. I should walk down the street and have people shouting "Fatty!". That's what I want, to get me out of it.
"'I get up in the morning, look in the mirror, and say to myself, 'Oh, you f---ing fat b-----d'.'"
So I do believe that any obesity jokes or comments that he makes are more self-reflexive than anything else.
[UPDATE: I finished it. It's not a huge deal. The context is that they're talking about the differences between complications that can arise from NECESSARY surgeries (like heart transplants) and VANITY surgeries (like collagen injections). The controversial statement is, I thought, a fast, passing remark. I thought it was fairly clear in context that Ricky was not talking about fat people in general, but rather about people who use surgery as a first resort rather than a last resort.]