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Ricky Come together and annoy Karl! He is your leader... he is your messiah.... He is your god!

...And he fucking hates it...

According to Ricky Gervais, Karl Pilkington has a head like a fucking orange. Karl describes being invited to and attending the BAFTAS as the worst thing he’s ever had to do. He maintains a peculiar interest in snails, worms, insects, jellyfish, monkeys and ghosts, and if he had to, would prefer eating a kangaroo's penis in the evening because it’s easier to digest. His girlfriend, to her horror, once caught him trying to cook sausages in the toaster.

Born in Manchester and raised in Sale on a council estate, Karl mostly ignored his exams, leaving school at the age of 15 with an E in History. He went to work for a printing firm. After several jobs, including an early morning paper round and a brief stint in a factory shrink wrapping cassette tapes (for which he had to work a 24 hour shift), Karl found his way into the radio industry and XFM, taking up the position head of production.

In 2001 he became producer of what would be a notorious, disorganised Saturday afternoon slot called The Ricky Gervais Show, with Ricky Gervais (obviously) and co host Stephen Merchant. The show achieved cult status, spawned many podcasts, and propelled Karl to internet stardom. The rest as they say, is history, or to some, “utter drivel”.

Idiot Abroad DVD


Idiot Abroad DVD
Ricky It's pointless, this show. We don’t do it for the money... we don’t do it for the kudos, I don’t know why we do it. Is there anything on tele at this time? I could have had a lie in.
Karl Pilkington

Before Karl's popularity, Ricky and Steve had spent some time working at XFM hosting a short lived show, but due to a takeover by the Capital Group in 1998 took voluntary redundancy. The pair remained undeterred, eventually going on to critical acclaim and much success with The Office.

They finally returned to XFM and the weekly show together with Karl, where music and light chat would fill the two hours.

Idiot Abroad DVD

XFM Vault

As producer of The Ricky Gervais Show, Karl was something of a dark horse, saying little, rarely mixing with the station’s staff and preferring to work alone. It took some coaxing from Ricky to persuade Karl to talk on air or at least share his views on particular topics or questions.

On the occasions he did indulge the listeners, his views were met with a mixture of amusement, bewilderment, and quite often, a string of complaints.

But for those that tuned in and enjoyed the show, Karl became an increasingly popular contributor in the series’ success – despite his own lack of enthusiasm and discomfort in becoming so.

With dry comments and skewed observations, Karl’s input became the backbone of the show, being barely considered as ' radio', yet scraping through with thin content and often, dead air, disorganisation and chaos...


Ricky You’ve had three months to prepare. What have you got? What have you got for us? ...What’s happened in the last three months?
Karl What in this place, or just my life?
Ricky Well what have you got for us?

Idiot Abroad DVD
Idiot Abroad DVD
Idiot Abroad DVD

Ricky Karl, listen. You're here for our amusement.
Steve Yeah.
Ricky You don't... you don't, sort of, come in any time you want.
Steve When we decide it's sort of time to have some fun at your expense, then we'll let you know, but otherwise...
Ricky This, we're not here to help other DJs or even this station, we don't give a fff… about this.
Karl See, this is what my girlfriend said.
Steve What's that?
Ricky Well, you should listen to her.
Steve She knows what she's talking about clearly.

Steve Now put your microphone down.
Karl She said they just wheel you out when they need you...
Steve Switch your microphone off Karl, and let us finish what we were saying.
Ricky Right, just...
Steve What were you saying Rick?
Ricky Err, Ian Camfield has got a rock show.
Steve Oh right...
Ricky Starting today, four hours of pure...
Ricky Steve ...Rock!
Ricky Yeah, he's probably here, smoking, drinking Jack Daniels, and just like having picture of Vance put up, around the room to get him in the mood, and then he'll go out and rock.

Ricky Karl, don't be silly, turn your microphone on. We're joking.

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Karl There was, erm, a couple of lads at our school...
Steve Oh yeah.
Karl ...had really big heads.
Ricky (chuckling)
Steve Right.
Karl And webbed fingers.
Steve And webbed fingers?
Karl And…
Ricky Sorry, wait a minute. Were the… hold on, did you find them in a pond, did they used to be little tadpoles?
Steve Karl, you’re not confusing your past with an old episode of ‘Dr. Who,’ are you?
Ricky What were they called, these two?
Karl Awww, I can't… I didn’t mix with them.
Ricky Yeah.
Karl It was just like…
Ricky ‘Course not.
Karl …there was a… nobody thought anything of it at school ‘cause it was like…
Steve No. Sure.
Karl …we were used to it…
Ricky Yeah! It’s the north.

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Ricky I was just telling Karl, I've lined up a Simon & Garfunkel track - "Only living boy in New York." He went 'Why is he the only living boy in New York?' I went, 'What?' He went, 'What does that mean then?' I went, 'I don't know.' He went, 'What's it about?' I said 'I don't care, I said it's a lovely sentiment'. He said 'I like a story.' I said 'Like what?' He said, 'Killing of Georgie, no trickery.'
Killing of Georgie, I think we should play that.
It's good, I heard it on Radio 2, it was cracking.
It's really good.
Tell them what it's about again.
It's about a little gay fella.
A little what? A little gay fella.
I haven't heard it for a bit so it's all off memory this, but the gay bloke, is he from Scotland?
I have no idea.
But he's from somewhere where gays aren't liked.
No, no, no, no, "Georgie boy was gay I guess nothing more or nothing less, he was the kindest guy I ever knew", right now all he did was his father said how can my son not be straight, kicked him out, goes to America.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, but you can handle all that, you can handle your dad not getting along with you if other people around you are into the same scene, but he was left on his own, he didn't know what to do, he was getting stressed out.
This was before, when did this record come out?
'78, '77, something like that. During Punk.
Right, oh I see yeah, so the Village People had come along and made gay cool, that had already happened.
But he was watchin the tele or somethin and he saw that New York had loads of 'em over there and they're all havin a good time.
No, sorry, at no point in the song does Rod Stewart say little gay Georgie was watchin tele and so loads of gays in New York, at no point in that song.
No, but this is what I like about that song, you sort of picture what's going on.
You make it up.
Okay, so the little gay fella was watchin tele there was presumably... "and now from New York, The Gay Show".
Or whatever coz there was a big scene over there weren't they, in the seventies.
So he goes over there and he's havin a great time 'n that.
'Went to New York town, very quickly settled down, soon became the toast of the great white way, all the old queens blew a fuse.'
Yeah, they loved him, and then, I dunno, he was out late one night and he was walkin home and he gets attacked, gets killed and he was lying in the road.
Yep, 'they didn't intend to take his life they just pushed their luck too far that night.' Yeah you see...
So but what's good there, is it good that he had a bit of a good life and was able to be himself or should he have stayed in Scotland.
He didn't come from Scotland.
Is there any way we can get this song before the end of the show and play it, cos I've heard it recently - A lot of people listening would never have heard this song, they won't have any idea what you're talking about.
Can I say what you said when we were talking about that song once before?
Is it bad?
It might be, I don't know. It's when you said...
Well it's a fact...
Right he said - so it's the Killing of Georgie - he goes out right, he dies, he goes "well, they do go out late".
I know a few gay people and they start to party late on, in Soho right, girlfriend got in a cab, Suzanne was in a cab and the cab driver was takin her to an early start right, she works at the BBC, early start 4 in the morning, it was going down, it was goin mental in Soho at about 4 in the morning, they were all like starting the night out.
:How did you know they were gay?
It's Soho innit.
Fair enough.
  Karl Pilkington Karl is famed for his bizarre childhood tales, second-hand stories, dubious theories, opinions, observations and strange new perspectives riddled with blind ignorance... or complete originality. Frequently he would mention films, songs or just about anything that referenced "freaks", "little wheelchair fellas", ghosts, monkeys and midgets. Karl's so called "rubbish" has since turned him into a cult figure adored globally. He would regret the attention, while Ricky relished it...


Since it was a radio show, there were certain expectations in terms of content, features and competitions (with awful prizes). For this Karl would simply crow-bar something he'd "learned" in the week into one of the features. "Monkey News" was a recurring point throughout the run of the show which would normally consist of a dubious ape-related report sourced from the internet. Often far-fetched, if not impossible, the stories were both hilarious and frustrating for Ricky and Steve because of Karl's tendancy to unconditionally accept them as truth.


  "Do we need 'em?" were Karl's genuinely naive attempts to understand the complexities of the Earth's ecosystem by debating the neccessity of certain animals and insects. Although short-lived, the feature was based around a telephone conversation with an individual knowledgable on Karl's chosen subject. Hilarity ensued as Karl slowly annoyed the individual in question by suggesting that certain animals and insects do not contribute to the functioning of the planet and could be removed from existance.
  Karl Pilkington

It is Gervais who has often been credited for Karl’s humour by urging the dim-witted Manchunian to elaborate his unusual thoughts for clarity’s sake, perhaps due to Karl's poor education and the inability to articulate, or maybe because as a comedian Ricky Gervais habitually mines everything till he strikes gold. Whatever the reason, this raised the question, “is Karl Pilkington a creation?” Something like the Gareth character in the Office?


No, they chorused, time and time again either in interviews or during the XFM shows and podcasts. Considering the fact it took them months to write half hour episodes of The Office, how could they come up with two hour scripts once weekly?


Steve If we came up with a character as good as Karl, we would never squander him on a poxy little radio station like this one.

  Upon listening again to the shows Gervais and Merchant point out that Karl is Karl. He really is the way he comes across, is completely honest and means no harm in spite of the outcome. His opinions and theories include homosexuals going out too late at night to socialise, disabled people, monkeys having love affairs with bored women, midgets benefiting from standard allocated food portions, “freaks”, Chinese people not aging well, and perhaps more bizarrely, the proposal that scientists could inject a 78 year old woman in the head so she could live life backwards and enjoy her youth again.

This last theory in particular has strangely validated Karl’s peculiar mind, since the Brad Pitt movie, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” features an almost identical idea as its plot.

Karl finally expressed his intentions to leave XFM, stating the reasons as hating his job, and feeling persistently annoyed by Ricky...


Ricky I enjoyed squeezing your head and dressing you up!
Karl Yeah but no, that’s just it. When I had a meeting with Graham, right, I said ‘Look, I’m not being funny, I don’t want to do it anymore, I’ve had enough of it’ and he was like ‘Oh what’s up with ya, it sounds like you have a right good laugh.’ I said ‘Yeah, but that’s…that’s all good acting and stuff.’ I said, ‘It’s hell in there!’

KarlI said, ‘He’s putting a dustbin lid on me head…’
Ricky You told this to the MD!!
Karl ‘He’s hitting me with a tray, he’s chucking toilet paper at me…’ and he said, ‘Yeah but that’s all over two years.’ I said, ‘No, that was the same day.’

  Karl Pilkington Although the run of XFM shows came to an end, the dynamic between the trio prevailed through the world famous podcasts, also called The Ricky Gervais Show. With no ads or records to play, there was now even more time to dedicate to Karl and his abstract banter. Karl reached such heights of fame that the podcast’s listeners included Jason Bateman, David Letterman, David Bowie, Matt Greining, Christopeher Guest, Harry Shearer and many more.


In series 2 Ricky tells of a public appearance he had made at a culture event, encountering an unusual question from Karl’s even broader fan base...

Ricky I did an appearance at the Oxonian Society in New York. Its at Princeton College, running an event, and they have like, academics, artists, political figures… they have heads of industry, world leaders… they’ve had Princess Ann of Jordan, and there was a Q and A afterwards, and one of the questions was, ‘Is Monkey News coming back?’

Towards the end of Series 1 of the Podcasts Karl kept a diary. Recording his day to day thoughts, activities and observations, the diary was eagerly anticipated by Gervais and read aloud by Merchant under the feature title, “Karl’s Diary”. The majority of the entries seemed to express disapproval and mild criticism for the world. In one diary entry, he describes the tedium not only of receiving junk mail, but the junk mail containing a misspelling of his name...


Steve (Karl's words, read by Steve) "Got some post delivered to me today. It was addressed to ‘Mr Dilkington’. It read, 'Dear Mr K. Dilkington, You are one of our most valuable customers.' I put it in the bin."



Audiobook Downloads at Audible.co.ukThe series of podcasts continued on the basis that the three would only record them if they could be bothered. And if Karl would agree.

Because the podcasts were always recorded in Ricky's rented office space, it was simply a matter of setting up a computer with microphones and pushing the record button.

Some were given away for free such as The Podfather specials (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas) together with Guardian Unlimited and featuring a small selection of ads.

The rest were mainly available from Audible and iTunes for about £1, making a fortune when the sales dominated the internet charts, and resulting in their induction to the Guiness book of records as the biggest podcast in download history - at least 8 million, still going strong.


Karl used his share of the money to have his boiler replaced.