Brit comedian on Karl Pilkington, An Idiot Abroad and nudist beaches in Rio
Time Out Bahrain staff
Xenophobe Karl Pilkington is an amateur traveller at best: the former UK radio producer and clumsily uncultured chum of Ricky Gervais is probably the type of guy that would order fish and chips on the Great Wall of China. This, combined with his tactless and sharp-witted demeanour, makes for thoroughly entertaining viewing in An Idiot Abroad, the travel documentary created by Gervais in which Pilkington is sent to some of the world’s most breathtaking sights.
The first season, sees Gervais and fellow creator Stephen Merchant ship him off to discover the new Seven Wonders of the World. Here, Ricky Gervais reveals the art of his torture.
How did you come up with the concept? Well I guess it’s because I feel like Karl. Karl’s my best friend now, but I must admit he’s been like a 10-year experiment for me; he’s part friend, he’s part pet, he’s almost part child and I want to get him to university, so to speak. He’s a true artist: he sees the world through different eyes, he’s the funniest man I’ve ever met and I knew that if I put him in a situation, one of difference, be that culture or person, he’s fascinated by difference, and he’s like a child that sort of looks and points in the supermarket.
Was the Seven Wonders of the World concept your idea? Yes, because I couldn’t get Karl excited about anything in the world – he wasn’t impressed with anything. He was like a little Englander. And obviously the joke was that they were meant to be the seven most amazing man-made structures on the face of the Earth, and I knew he wouldn’t be impressed.
You guys travelled with him, what were the stand-out moments? Well, let’s see. That he absolutely hated Russia (in season two). He said, ‘It’s the most miserable place on Earth.’ He said his girlfriend thinks he moans; he said, ‘I want to bring her here, then she won’t think I moan because these people are moaning all the time.’ He’s great in America, it’s just not his thing. He goes to America and of course all the Americans are happy. He performs with a glee club, which is the antithesis of what Karl is: it’s the opposite of his personality, being happy and dancing around, and he just looks so awkward.
What about in the first season? The first season is the Seven Wonders, and he goes to see the Pyramids in Egypt, which is incredible. His favourite is Mexico; he gets on with the people there and he introduces them to Monster Munch crisps. But the funniest moment for me was Rio. I’ve never seen Karl as uncomfortable as he was on a nudist beach. An Idiot Abroad season one airs every Tuesday at 10.25pm on Discovery. Season two is available from BD5 at www.amazon.co.uk.