TV Review: Sheer Idiocy


An Idiot Abroad proves that Karl Pilkington has the talent to match his more renowned peers, writes Matthew Jones

Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington are names that immediately spring to mind when considering the modern comedic greats in our world. Gervais’ and Merchant’s work on both Extras and The Office changed the way we think about comedy. The addition of idiot savant, or just plain idiot, in the form of Karl Pilkington, in The Ricky Gervais Show, improved on the already excellent formula.

Essentially just an animated podcast, this show soared to popularity due, in no small part, to Pilkington’s frequent and nonsensical rants. The group seized upon this and in An Idiot Abroad, gave the audience what they want – more Karl Pilkington.

Karl Pilkington first found fame producing and co-presenting The Ricky Gervais Show.

Pilkington frequently admits: “I don’t like fun,” saying that he finds maintaining relationships with family and friends a chore. It is with this knowledge that Gervais and Merchant decide to send him around the globe, persuading him to visit the new seven wonders of the world. Pilkington is a man who hates leaving his comfort zone and Gervais explains his reasons for choosing Pilkington as the ideal subject for this hilarious travel documentary: “There is nothing funnier than Karl, sitting in a corner, being poked with a stick. I am that stick.”

Pilkington himself brings a lot to the show, despite being thrown in at the deep end. He gets stuck in and tries to make the most of the various trips – he even completes a variety of outlandish challenges along the way, one of which is to walk the entire length of the Great Wall of China.

He hates it though, he hates every second. He hates the food, the noise, the jet-lag, but most of all, he hates the toilets. Pilkington’s frequent and winding rants about all things foreign are what give the show its strength. In many ways, it’s a better travel documentary than most others, if only for the fact that Pilkington makes no attempt to accept any other culture that differs from his own.

Gervais describes the show as being “one of the funniest, most expensive practical jokes I’ve ever done,” and it really is. If you haven’t been watching this show, get yourself to a TV set and catch it before Pilkington runs out of wonders.

Catch An Idiot Abroad on Sky 1, Thursdays at 9pm.