TV&Satellite Week is only 60 seconds into its interview with Karl Pilkington to discuss the second season of his travel show The Moaning of Life (Sky1, Tuesday, October 13) and he’s already whingeing.
The source of his frustration? The five-star, London spa-hotel where he’s currently staying, courtesy of Sky1.
“It’s all right, but it’s a bit too fancy for its own good,” he sighs. “Nothing’s obvious in my room. I thought that the switch on the wall would turn the room’s lights on, but it works the underfloor heating in the bathroom and now it’s baking in there.
“Sometimes you’re just better off with a Premier Inn, aren’t you? You know what you’re getting with one of those.”
In episode one, about art, you do performance art in Times Square in New York. You actually appeared to enjoy yourself…
“I really didn’t fancy it at first, but then I met Matthew Silver, the performance artist who I did the routine with, and we got on straight away. I was lifted by all the crowd watching and I was buzzing by the end of it.”
Does a new exciting career as a performance artist beckon for you, then?
“I’ve done it, it was good, but, no, I won’t be doing it again. I’m scared to do things again in case it’s not as good as the first time. Just like I don’t like going on holiday to the same place twice.”
In the episode, about the body, you encounter a man who drinks his own urine…
“In India I met this guy who practises Shivambu which treats urine as a natural medicine. He uses it for everything: he washes in it, cleans his eyes with it, drinks it. At first, I was like, ‘You what?’ but then I thought about all the men’s cleansing and grooming products in the UK and wondered, ‘Is any of that stuff actually any better?’”
There’s another episode entitled How to Live Your Life in which you become a superhero. Sounds exciting…
“Not really. I met this guy in San Diego called Mr Extreme. It was quite good fun choosing a costume, but then we went out at night and just walked around and lots of people stopped us for selfies. If Spiderman actually existed, he’d probably spend most of his time posing for selfies with tourists rather than chasing the Green Goblin.”
You went bald in your early 20s, but in the episode about identity you are given hair again. What was that like?
“I grew to really like it. The hair-piece was actually made from real hair. It was then cut and styled the way I had my hair in my late teens. It was as if I had got in a time machine and travelled back to 1989. The stylist said it changed everything about me. It brought out my eyes, and I walked and held myself more confidently. I’ve never been one for checking myself out in the mirror, but I couldn’t take my eyes off myself.”
Did you send a picture of you with hair to your girlfriend, Suzanne?
“When I sent her a photo, she said, ‘You look well gormless! You look an old guy trying to look young.’ It was a proper kick in the nuts. But I loved having hair again. I was quite gutted when the wig was removed. It was like going bald for a second time.”
You got a chilling glimpse of the future in the episode about time when you were transformed into an old age pensioner. Was that a shock?
”It was a proper prosthetic job – it wasn’t just a case of me putting an old-man mask on. I was in make-up for two-and-a-half hours and I couldn’t see what was being done to me. When I saw myself as an OAP for the first time, I couldn’t believe it. I thought, ‘Suzanne’s not seeing this! She’ll want rid of me and I’ll be right out the door!’”