Karl Pilkington’s brand of baffled and bemused commentary brought Sky1 HD one of its biggest shows ever in the shape of An Idiot Abroad, which ran for three seasons and launched Pilkington around the world.
Unfortunately for the host, success in TV land equals more success, hence the commission of his latest Sky travelogue, The Moaning of Life, and a subsequent global launch at MIPCOM.
Begrudgingly dragged to Cannes, his appearance was not because of a deep-held desire to see the manicured poodles on the Croisette and rich townsfolk. His main gripe is in fact the promotion that surrounds a major launch like the one distributor BBC Worldwide gave the 5x45mins Moaning. “Making TV shows isn’t that bad. It’s all this s*** afterward that I don’t like. No offence, you seem lovely,” he tells TBI.
“I have been over to the Palais but it’s the bit of the job that’s not what I got into this for. To be honest, I don’t like being away from home.”
It’s that innate grumpiness that BBCWW and Sky hope will resonate with Pilkington’s growing band of followers and subsequently, channel buyers. Moaning also represents Pilkington’s first television series away from Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, the latter of whom also has a new Sky comedy, Hello Ladies.
Monaning sees Pilkington flying round the world and tackling life’s big issues – children, love, marriage, happiness and death – in his own particular way. The episode on death sees him encounter professional funeral criers in Taiwan and Ghanaian death celebrations. (“My issue with death is the amount of land the dead take up. That’s going to make me sound mental in writing.”) He also dons a preganancy suit and has sperm taken in Japan.
“The way the project worked was I would go along, find out what I could, say what I think before and after and that’s it,” he says, adding: “I’m set in my ways. The more people say I should do something, like have kids, the more I don’t want to.”
The five-part show launched last night on UK pay TV in a primetime 9pm slot.
Pilkington says the experience of filming Moaning was less stressful than with Idiot, as that worked on the basis of him not knowing where he would be sent next. “Ricky and Steve’s job was to piss me off and see how I would react. If I’d known I would not have left the house. With this, I didn’t have that.”
As for his own taste in programming, Pilkington says simply: “I don’t watch much TV [but] I love the Columbo box set.”
The show: The Moaning of Life
The producer: You and Me Productions, RoundED Productions
The distributor: BBC Worldwide
The broadcaster: Sky1 HD (UK), SVT (Sweden)
Concept: Another Karl Pilkington comedy travelogue, this time without regular tormentors Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant