Written during season one of the SKY1 show, An Idiot Abroad, this diary goes a bit more in depth for the various trips that make up the season. The concept for the first season of the show was to send eternally put upon Karl Pilkington around the world to see the Seven Modern Wonders of the World. Unlike the show, the diary goes in chronological order with Karl heading to Egypt to see the Great Pyramid (in the show he goes to China first). Along the way, co-creators of the show Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant delight in subjecting the homebody Karl to all sorts of indignities meant to force him out of his comfort zone as well as make really good television.
If you like the series you really have to get the book. I’ve seen all 3 seasons of the show and reading this made me want to watch the first season again. Karl is a good writer and his observations are very funny as is his reaction to the various hells Stephen and Ricky but him through. While I think Karl’s persona is probably real, I do think the animosity between Ricky, Steve, and him are played up to some extent. Karl started as producer for Ricky and Steve’s radio show but after showing up on a few episodes with bizarre observations he was made full time cast. He has a number of books and TV shows of his own. He’s not a dumb guy, a certainly not an idiot, but he is definitely comfortable hanging out in his flat with girlfriend, Susan, and whinging about appliance deliveries.
The diary is broken up with transcripts of real text and phone conversations between Karl, Ricky, and Stephen. This is largely the funniest parts of the book and Stephen and Ricky winding Karl up is almost as much fun to read as it is to watch. What is funnier is that Karl usually ends up rejoining with something clever that makes the others laugh as well.
The book follows along with Karl on his various trips and he gives a bit of a “behind the scenes” look at each episode. For the most part he really is a good sport about some of the things Ricky and Stephen cajole him in to. Like Mexican Wrestling, riding a camel across the Sahara, camping out in a cave at Petra, and trying to survive the favelas of Rio. Along the way he quests for a western style toilet, tries all manner of exotic food, and basically whinges his way through the experience.
There is also a book for season 2. I will need to get it immediately.
While An Idiot Abroad only had 3 seasons there is a new show on SKY1 documentary series called The Moaning of Life. Not sure if its available in the US but I’ll be looking for it.