Karl Pilkington: 'I'm not that much of an idiot'

Karl Pilkington: 'I'm not that much of an idiot'
Karl Pilkington: 'I'm not that much of an idiot' (Image credit: Contract Number (Programme))

As a new series of the cartoon The Ricky Gervais Show returns to our screens, we catch up with Karl Pilkington to find out more... Hi Karl, how are you doing this fine day? "I've got a leak in my kitchen. My mate Big Kev's going to come round and help me with it. If this career doesn't work out I'm going to work with Big Kev. We're going to do DIY. Kev's one of those people who you can tell what he does for a living just by looking at him. You don't meet many of those." What will Kev be doing? "Kev's going to do some wallpapering with me in my kitchen. I've also found this guy who does rubber flooring. I'm going to have some of that put in. But I keep calling him and he's not answering his phone. Is that a bad sign? If he's not answering his phone is it because he's just expecting all calls to be complaints?" Er, right. Do you think that maybe you worry about things too much? "Yes... Maybe. I'm worried too that if I ask for a discount, he's going to think, 'What a tight bastard! He's on the telly, he's got loads of money.'" So anyway, The Ricky Gervais Show is back. These are animated versions of your podcasts. You're not actually doing them any more, though, are you? "No, we did the last one just before the World Cup. Some of these things they're based on are two or three years old. I won't do anymore because when we started I thought nobody much would listen. Now I'm a bit self-conscious about them because they've taken on a life of their own and I can't do them because I think about how they're going to appear as cartoons and how many people are seeing them. It's got a bigger life than I thought it would have." You come out of the shows as a bit of a victim. Do you ever get fed up with Ricky bullying you? "Ricky's a mate. I can put up with the things he says about me because I know deep down he's just joking. It's just a name-calling thing. It's not as if he's beating me up. He's got other mates he treats worse. He's got one friend, Robin, who he buried up to his neck in the sand on a beach and waited until the tide came in." So you're not really an idiot then? "Most people know I'm not that much of an idiot, Ricky just makes me sound worse than I am. He picks up on the little things I say. Some of the things I come up with, if I'd said it to another mate, they might say, 'That's a good theory.' But Ricky pulls them apart and makes them seem madder than they are." The podcasts and the TV shows have given you a whole new career, haven't they? "Exactly. I'm not moaning, For me to complain about Ricky making fun of me would be like Gordon Ramsay protesting that people expect him to make omelettes – it's what he's famous for. I've done alright out of this. I'm not at the same level as Ricky. I don't have a swimming pool in my basement or anything. If I want to go swimming I have to go to the local baths." Are you really happy? You never look it on screen? "I hated the travel series [Sky1's An Idiot Abroad] at the time we did it, but now I look back on it as an unforgettable experience. I know I looked like I was moaning the whole time – but that’s the way I am. It's a family thing. We're only happy when we're moaning. I feel more alive when I've got something to whinge about. When I talk to my dad, I always tell him about the hassles I'm having rather than the good things. He'll love hearing I've got a leak in my kitchen or that I've had a parking ticket. I think people like to see moaning on TV, too. Nobody watches Come Dine With Me to learn how to cook an egg. They want to see the diners complaining about each other." So what's next? We hear you're doing a new travel show for Sky1 called The Bucket List? "I get offered all sorts of things. The other day someone said, 'Do you want to present a programme about trees. No, I don't. What is there to say? I like trees, but I've got nothing to say about them. The Bucket List is an idea we'll start on next month. I didn't want to do more wonders of the world. We've done that. Ricky had an idea about giving me a million pounds and challenging me to double it. But he went off the idea because I was too confdent that I could do it. He didn't want me to do something where I succeeded. The Bucket List is a 'things to do before you die' idea. And that's fine as long as I pick them. So I'm vetoing things like bungee jumping. I'm not doing that. I'm not risking my life. I'll do things like a road trip across America." Thanks Karl - and good luck with the leak! The Ricky Gervais Show starts on March 8 at 11pm on E4

Patrick McLennan

Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix. 

An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.