Bona fide flight risk

The joke might be on him, but Karl Pilk­ing­ton reck­ons he’s get­ting a bet­ter deal out of An Idiot Abroad than Ricky Ger­vais and Stephen Mer­chant, writes Anooska Tucker- Evans

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Eguide Television - AN IDIOT ABROAD, Eleven, Satur­day, 9.30pm

BE­ING buried alive is an ex­pe­ri­ence that would leave many peo­ple scarred for life, but not Karl Pilk­ing­ton.

The so- called ‘‘ idiot’’ from tele­vi­sion doc­u­men­tary- com­edy An Idiot Abroad was made to dig his own grave in Rus­sia and then lie in it as a form of ther­apy, us­ing only a piece of gar­den hose as a breath­ing tube.

‘‘ At first I was wor­ried about it but when I was down there it was peace and quiet and I just felt like I could have time to my­self,’’ Pilk­ing­ton says.

‘‘ They dug me out and I think they were ex­pect­ing me to go mad and I was just like, ‘ I’d be quite happy to be in an­other 10 min­utes’.’’

It’s al­most no won­der Pilk­ing­ton ( pic­tured) wanted an es­cape af­ter the stunts his sup­posed mates – English fun­ny­men Ricky Ger­vais and Stephen Mer­chant – put him through on the show.

The 39- year- old is sent to ev­ery corner of the globe to un­know­ingly face ex­pe­ri­ences de­signed to take him out of his com­fort zone, but usu­ally prove ter­ri­fy­ing, dis­gust­ing and hu­mil­i­at­ing.

‘‘ I re­ally, re­ally get an­noyed with them [ Ger­vais and Mer­chant] but I don’t like to tell them,’’ Pilk­ing­ton says.

‘‘ If they know I’m get­ting all an­noyed they’re lov­ing it, so I like to just send them a text go­ing, ‘ Yeah, I’m all right, hav­ing a lovely time’, just to an­noy them. It’s the only power I’ve got re­ally – the power of the lie.’’

In the first sea­son of the show, Pilk­ing­ton – a for­mer ra­dio pro­ducer – vis­ited the New Seven Won­ders of the World, where he was made to eat toad in China, and live in a cave in Jor­dan.

In se­ries two he ticks items off his bucket list but, again, they’re not with­out a lit­tle evil spin from Ger­vais and Mer­chant.

‘‘ I def­i­nitely had sec­ond thoughts [ about do­ing a sec­ond sea­son],’’ he says. ‘‘ It was eas­ier than se­ries one be­cause I sort of knew what to ex­pect in a way.

‘‘ It wasn’t as much as a sur­prise when I’d end up some­where and I’d think, ‘ Well, this isn’t the plan’.

‘‘ I knew how Ricky and Steve worked, so I was more ac­cept­ing of things.’’

But with stunts in­clud­ing swim­ming with sharks in Australia, stand­ing on the edge of a live vol­cano in Van­u­atu, and bungy jump­ing in New Zealand, his ac­cep­tance of what was to come didn’t make the ex­pe­ri­ences any less ter­ri­fy­ing.

‘‘ It’s like if some­one said you’re go­ing to go for a long walk and at some point you’re go­ing to get run over by a bus, it would af­fect the whole walk. And that’s what it’s like. It’s like you’re try­ing to en­joy it but you’re think­ing, ‘ When’s the bus com­ing?’,’’ he says.

Although he’s the butt of his mates’ jokes, Pilk­ing­ton says he gets the last laugh.

‘‘ I just think I’m get­ting more out of it than them,’’ he says.

‘‘ I’m see­ing places they’re never go­ing to see, so, in the end . . . I’m the win­ner.

‘‘ They might sort of have their lit­tle laughs about the sit­u­a­tions they’re putting me through, but when I come home I’ve got pho­to­graphs to prove I’ve been to places and done things, where they’ve been sit­ting in their lit­tle house watch­ing telly and drink­ing tea.’’

That, how­ever, doesn’t mean he’s up for a third sea­son.

‘‘ Ricky wants to do some­thing but at the mo­ment I just said, ‘ Let’s just leave it’. I’m writ­ing a book for the sec­ond se­ries and I’ve just had enough of be­ing on a plane,’’ he says.

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