In Sky 1’s new travelogue Karl Pilkington: The Moaning of Life (Sunday, October 20) the man who griped his way around the globe in An Idiot Abroad is off on his travels again. This time however, he is wrestling with some of life’s big questions, including love, happiness and death, along the way.
TV & Satellite Week caught up with Karl to find out whether travel really does broaden the mind…
Has the first programme, which is about courtship and marriage, changed your attitude towards tying the knot?
“If anything I’ve gone more the other way and it sort of annoys me even more now. I don’t get it. I don’t understand the trouble and the cost. I went to an Indian wedding, which is an extreme example, and the bride and groom spent all evening stood there shaking hands with people who I’m convinced they didn’t know.”
You went to an agency that finds prospective partners for arranged marriages. How did you get on?
“It was like a job interview and it’s the best I’ve ever done in an interview situation. I called my girlfriend Suzanne up and told her about it. When she sees the programme, it might make her realise she’s got a bit of a catch.”
You also investigate the idea of having a vocation. Have you ever had one?
“I’ve never really understood this idea that you grow up really wanting to do something. There are only so many jobs out there and a lot of people fighting for them, so there’s more chance of being disappointed than getting what you want. These people I see on The X Factor going: ‘I was born to do this’ – you really weren’t!”
Has making this series changed you?
“You can’t do all this without it having an effect on you. It’s like Jade Goody. She was a bit of a numb-nut at the start of Big Brother, but she turned into a proper businesswoman making a fortune. I don’t think I’ve changed in terms of what makes me happy in life though.”
Has earning more money made you happier?
“I don’t worry about the cost of things as much. I like these lemon muffins from the bakery down the road, and they’re three quid each. If you’d have said to me 10 years ago I’d be paying three quid for a muffin I’d have gone: ‘Get lost!’”
What does make you happy?
“I’m quite happy just staying in doing little jobs. But, thanks to the TV shows, for six months of the year all this mad stuff happens and then it’s all over and I go home. I say to Suzanne: ‘What’s been going on?’, and she says: ‘That draught needs sorting on the front door’. I was very happy the other day when I was sat in the garden in the sunshine, cutting my toenails and having a cup of tea and a Tunnock’s teacake.”
Do you enjoy meeting your fans now that you’re famous?
“When I meet my fans I think: ‘I don’t know what you’re so excited about’. Sometimes they say: ‘There’s the idiot’. But I can’t moan about it – it pays for those lemon muffins.”
The last programme is about death. What do you think happens when we die?
“I used to think there was more to it, like ghosts and that, just because my mum was into all that. She used to go on about reincarnation. She’d say: ‘We’re all flies, aren’t we? Because stuff rots, and flies come off it. So you’re going to come back as a fly.’ Now I’ve gone towards my dad’s thinking which is: ‘This is it, you get one go and you turn to mush. When I’m dead, don’t get ripped off, just stick me in a bin bag.’”
Did the parenthood episode make you want to have children?
“People will say you are missing out by not having kids, but I hate that argument: you should have them because you might regret it if you don’t. Well, what happens if you regret it after you do? Why aren’t we looking at that? Mates who’ve got kids say to me I’m missing out, but I’m convinced that they’re really thinking: ‘Bloody hell Karl, you’re having a good time.’”
A book to accompany the series, The Moaning of Life: The Worldly Wisdom of Karl Pilkington, has been published by Canongate Books (Hardback £20, Ebook £14.99)