Karl Pilkington (‘An Idiot Abroad 3’) interview

Ticket for two, please: Karl Pilkington’s got company for his latest adventure, An Idiot Abroad 3, coming soon to Sky1.

After delivering his verdict on the Seven Wonders of the World and then making his way through the ‘Bucket List’, Karl follows in the footsteps of legendary explorer Marco Polo by travelling from Italy to China. Ricky Gervais returns as trip organiser and, this time, he’s letting his pal take a plus-one in the form of film and TV star Warwick Davis (Life’s Too Short).

Together, the odd couple embark on a 5,000-mile journey from Venice to East Europe, India and, finally, the Far East. While Karl digests his surroundings and proffers the odd pearl of wisdom as he goes along, Davis samples the foreign climes from his own unique perspective.

The prospect of ‘holidaying’ with Warwick doesn’t fill Karl with joy, but, regardless, Ricky sends the pair off to their first pit-stop: Venice. Nerves are tested when Warwick takes Karl to a masked ball, where they enter the inaccurately-named Pleasure Machine, before Karl moves on to his wish-list, test-riding a jet-pack. Things don’t go to plan and, with Warwick proving less than sympathetic, Karl gets his own back with the help of some balloons.

> Buy the Series 1 & 2 boxset on Amazon.

So Karl, this is your third series – what enticed you back? I did get the sense that you enjoyed the second a lot more.

K: I got better at being away and knowing that, when I get home, once time’s gone, I can look back on stuff and go, that wasn’t that bad and I enjoyed it a bit, I got something out of it. Whereas the first time, I hated it and didn’t know what I was going to be thinking when I got home. Do you know what I mean?

And you had an element of control in the second.

K: At least I was picking something that I was gonna… I mean there was always something. It’s like with this one, there’s always something that’s mad that I look back on it and go, that’s pretty amazing to say that I’ve done that or been there.

This is a whole new adventure for you Warwick. What, or who, persuaded you take part?

W: I said to Ricky when we were filming Life’s Too Short, how lucky Karl was that he got to do all of that stuff, what an amazing job to have to get to travel, and how I didn’t really think he appreciated it that much. I guess that started Ricky thinking about that and what Karl might be doing next.

You make quite the odd couple.

K & W: Yeah.

W: I guess it kind of is. I do travel quite a lot for my work anyway and I enjoy experiencing different things and seeing…

K: [Interrupts] … but not like that though.

W: Not like the pleasure tent [in Venice], no, that was something.

K: Yeah, I hope not.

W: I went into that for the theatre of the whole thing, I like that whole tradition of the masquerade ball and everything, but I didn’t know it was quite so sort of seedy.

It wasn’t as though you experienced the Venice advertised in your everyday holiday brochure. What about your unnerving experience on the beach with the drunken holy men in India?

K: That was scary that night weren’t it?

W: It seemed like a good idea that would make good TV, having a chat with them because they were doing what we were doing, camping on the beach, I thought, to see the sunrise. They’d be lucky if they did see the sunrise that lot.

K: Yeah, they wouldn’t be seeing anything. And they were chucking rocks at you weren’t they?

W: They were – and sand.

You both seem to get on really well here, today, but, Karl, at the start of the programme you’re not overjoyed to hear that you’ll be travelling with Warwick. Why?

K: Because I was worried about it looking bad. Me always wanting to move on and get things done quicker, I was thinking he was going to hold me up. You know, there’s no going away, that’s the honesty. It’s all very well Ricky setting it up but he’s not the one that’s got to do the journey, and it’s just that thing, it’s like, I don’t know, like going for a walk on your own or going for a walk with your dog. It’s that thing of the dog’s going to keep stopping,
pissing on a lamp…

W: [laughs]

K: … the journey’s going to take longer.

Warwick, did you have the same concerns about Karl?

W: Not really. I was kind of setting out determined to experience the whole trip as fully as I possibly could, to take everything from it. It’s one of those once-in-a-lifetime things, you know. Going into it, I didn’t know…

K: [Interrupts] … you didn’t know anything.

W: … how much Karl was going to get to me at times, and how difficult that was going to be. I was wondering if maybe there was some rivalry or resentment because, previously Karl, it was your show, but now you’re sharing.

K: No, I liked it and kind of thought, great, it’s less work for me. If he’s busy getting on with something, then I can sit and watch for a change, instead of always being the one doing it. I was grateful for that. It was also nice getting Warwick’s view on stuff that we’d experienced together, because that doesn’t normally happen. It’s normally a cameraman and soundman, you get on with it and you’re the only one to experience it, so if you moan or have something to say, there’s no-one to, sort of, see if they had the same feelings. That was good.

From watching the first couple of episodes, I got the sense that you both know how to push each other’s buttons, like Karl’s critiques, Warwick, of your acting career, saying you played a bear in Star Wars.

K: Because that’s what it is.

W: It would have helped if you’d done some research, done it properly, and it’s not, it’s more than that.

K: It’s not, it’s a little bear.

W: That’s like me saying, all you’ve done is appear on TV and a podcast moaning.

K: Yeah, but I’d say, yeah, but I have reason to.

W: I never had a chance to do that because you never actually said to me, Warwick, let’s talk about your career. You’d always do it on the sly, off camera; ooh, he’s only playing a green goblin.

K: But I didn’t want to talk about a cting, you’re always on about acting.

W: I didn’t talk about it that much.

K: You did, honestly. Remember it’s in the programme quite a lot and that’s only a little bit of what you were saying. Even Richard said to me, f***ing hell, he’s going on about acting again. He might have been stirring it up, though, he might have been doing it so I say something.

Taking your experience as a whole, do you think you’ve learnt a lot from each other?

W: I’ve learnt tolerance.

K: I’ve learnt that, even though I’ve travelled about, I haven’t changed that much. When you see episode three, what I’ve learnt is that Warwick changed a lot on the trip and did stuff that wasn’t easy and, by the end, I’m just the same. I didn’t notice but my girlfriend watched it and she just said, you haven’t changed one bit have you? She said, that sums it up, the way that Warwick did what he did there, and you’re just… If I don’t get it straight away, bin it, forget it, I don’t want to know. That’s what I was like at school, if I don’t understand, forget it.

W: When I grew up, you know, if I couldn’t do it the first time, I had to have another go. I think it’s physically being challenged by stuff; you have to have a few goes to do it.

K: But that’s the thing, in episode three with the mountain climb, it’s you going, I want to do it, whereas I’d go, forget it. That’s what I was saying to you, if you don’t want to do it, let’s not do it, what’s the problem?

W: That’s because you didn’t want to do it, that’s why you said that.

K: I have no regrets. People have said about when I was in Russia doing the plummet, what’s it called, zero gravity, and I didn’t do it, or the bungee jump I didn’t do – have you got regrets? I never have regrets. I decide at that point whether I’m doing something or not and then it’s gone.

W: That’s an amazing quality to have, to not look back on anything with regret

K: I might do in years to come, I don’t know, but at this moment in time, I’ve never had any regrets in my life.

> Buy the Series 1 & 2 boxset on Amazon.

Are you looking forward to Series 3? Let us know below…