Childhood & Early Life
Karl Pilkington was born on 23 September, 1972 in Manchester. He has confessed that he had an unconventional upbringing and was frequently absent from school. He studied at the Ashton on Mersey School but left the school and did not collect his results.
After a stint as a newspaper boy and a bagger at the grocery store, he started working at a printer’s shop at the age of 15.
When his father was sick and was admitted in the Wythenshawe Hospital, Pilkington become the hospital radio’s newsreader. He decided, however, to follow his own silly style and focused on issues that weren’t important.
He had a brief role in an overnight phone-in show at Piccadilly Radio in Manchester in the 2 am to 6 am slot, where he spoke to the callers and often held quizzes.
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In 2001, after several small attempts at becoming famous, Pilkington moved to London from Manchester to work with XFM as a producer.
After several years with the radio station, he was assigned to work on ‘The Ricky Gervais Show’ as the program producer. Gervais and Merchant’s chemistry would soon include an odd comment from Karl, which showcased his wit. His interludes became popular with the audience.
Gervais and Merchant later include Karl Pilkington as an equal presenter in the show, and he became the hit-program’s third voice. Karl’s persona was distinct and uniquely funny, which made him the main element of these broadcasts.
Karl’s opinions and manner of delivering them allowed the show to dedicate larger airtime to his segment. The topics he spoke were of a diverse range and included controversial opinions, practical jokes, and childhood stories.
The show was later converted into a podcast and Karl’s popularity remained as strong as ever. Many of his catchphrases and statements became a cult hit and are popular on the Internet. He was also described as an ‘Internet phenomenon’ by Reuters.
His persona loomed large in the show’s success. The radio show was aired from 2001 to mid-2005, when it was converted into a podcast under Guardian Unlimited. The new format included 12 shows in a podcast series of one.
As a podcast, it was consistently among the top podcasts in the world. It has also been featured in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2007 for the most downloaded podcast. As of 2011, the podcast had been downloaded over 300 million times.
The series was adapted for television in the form of an animation series by HBO and Channel 4, in 2010. In the animation series Karl gave the voiceover for his character.
After the show folded in 2011, Pilkington continued to collaborate with Gervais and Merchant in several projects. He gave an interview in the live stand-up comedy, ‘Politics’, by Gervais. He also appeared in ‘Extras’, a BBC sitcom by Merchant and Gervais.
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He also appeared as guest in many shows, including ‘Flipside TV’ and ‘The Culture Show’; as an actor, he had a significant role in movie ‘The Invention of Lying’ and a minor role in ‘Cemetery Junction’. He also appeared in many short film as a part of Channel 4’s ‘3 Minute Wonders’.
In 2010, he was the presenter of ‘An Idiot Abroad’, a TV show that combined travel and comedy. Aired on Sky 1 and produced by Gervais and Merchant, Pilkington’s persona was that of a reluctant traveler who decided to finally embark on a journey across the world, specifically the 7 Wonders.
Alongside recording ‘An Idiot Abroad’, he also wrote a book of the same name to accompany the series. He won the Best Presenter award for ‘An Idiot Abroad’ at the Factual Entertainment Award in June 2011.
Keeping in mind the success of the first series ‘An Idiot Abroad’, a second series was released in 2011. The focus was on a bucket list that involved Pilkington attempting to experience ‘ultimate things’. The storyline of a reluctant traveler continued as these choices were not of his liking.
A third series under ‘An Idiot Abroad’ was out in 2012 and was titled ‘The Short Way Around. He was joined by Warwick Davis and they embarked on an adventure of following Marco Polo’s route from Italy to China.
His next project was a venture in acting for Channel 4’s comedy drama series, ‘Derek’, in 2012. Karl Pilkington essayed the role of the caretaker and bus driver, Dougie. However, he would left the series after the first season.
In 2013, he starred in the documentary ‘The Moaning of Life’. In the documentary Pilkington essayed the role of a 40-year-old man who decides to travel across the world to understand other cultures. He also wrote two books accompanying the series, ‘The Moaning of Life: The Worldly Wisdom of Karl Pilkington’ and ‘More Moaning’.
Apart from books accompanying his TV series, he has written other memoirs and autobiographical books. ‘The World of Karl Pilkington’ (2006) focuses on his days with ‘The Ricky Gervais Show’; ‘Happyslapped By a Jellyfish’ is a collection of amusing anecdotes; and ‘Karlology’ (2008) details his knowledge of the world.
He is currently working on the script of a comedy series ‘Sick of It’ that is due in 2018. Apart from writing this, Pilkington will also be the lead star of the show.