|Born||23 September 1972|
|Occupation||Television presenter, author, comedian, radio producer, actor, voice actor|
|Years active||1998–2015; 2018-present|
Karl Pilkington (born 23 September 1972) is an English television presenter, author, comedian, radio producer, actor and voice actor.
Pilkington gained prominence as the producer of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's radio programme on Xfm. He appeared on The Ricky Gervais Show, presented the Sky travel comedy series An Idiot Abroad and made his full acting debut (following a cameo appearance in the final episode of Extras) on Gervais's 2012 comedy–drama series Derek. Pilkington is a co-founder, along with Gervais and Merchant, of RiSK Productions, a television production company. Pilkington also starred in the Sky 1 travel documentary comedy series The Moaning of Life (2013–2015). In 2018, Pilkington starred in a new scripted comedy series, Sick of It.
Pilkington was born in the town of Sale, Trafford, located in the south of Greater Manchester. He grew up on the Racecourse Estate neighborhood and lived with his father, mother, an older sister and an older brother. Very little is known about his family, but Pilkington has expressed having a close relationship with his parents, whom he has shared more stories about, the mother being mostly stay-at–home and his father having multiple jobs mainly as a driver; however, he has had an estranged relationship with his siblings, whom he had said it had been years since he even talked with and was never that close to, given a ten-year age gap between him and the older pair.
He made it to secondary school attending Ashton-on-Mersey School on Cecil Avenue, Sale. He said that he never liked school and struggled with the system, at some point losing all interest in it. Pilkington claimed he was only attending school to sell video games that he would purchase and make copies of, among other things he started selling to his schoolmates. He said, "I wasn't going to school to learn, I was going to earn." At age 15, he dropped out of school to work as a cassette and disk printer through a YTS program.
Pilkington moved to London from Manchester to work with Xfm as a producer, where he was later promoted to head of production. While there, he unintentionally caused Gail Porter to leave the station in tears after only one show; he criticised her performance, which Pilkington defended as an attempt to encourage improvement. After several years, he began work on The Ricky Gervais Show. Initially, Pilkington was solely the programme's producer, but as Gervais and Merchant began to frequently invite him to make cameo appearances, Pilkington's quirky persona came to light and his popularity increased. He was eventually included as a main presenter on the broadcasts, with large amounts of airtime devoted to his unusual thoughts on various subjects and childhood stories. He created many features for the broadcasts, including Monkey News, Rockbusters, 15 Taiwan, Educating Ricky and many others. In December 2005, Pilkington stood in for two BBC Radio 6 Music shows for Nemone, co-presenting with Russell Brand.
Pilkington's presence on The Ricky Gervais Show podcasts significantly increased his fame. He has often been mentioned in interviews given by Gervais, and is often the victim of Gervais' practical jokes. After Pilkington said "I could eat a knob at night" (rather than for breakfast) on the podcast (in relation to I'm a Celebrity contestants eating a kangaroo penis), Gervais encouraged his listeners to sample the sound bite and mix it into dance music. The phrase spawned several dance music mixes, T-shirts and other merchandise. Many of Pilkington's quotes have since gained publicity, particularly on the Internet. Reuters described Pilkington as a "phenomenon" who had made "Internet history."
On 23 November 2010, while appearing live on Richard Bacon's Radio 5 Live afternoon show, Gervais surprised Pilkington with an on-air phone call. This led to a conversation in which Pilkington, who claimed to have been interrupted while grouting his kitchen, claimed that he had not yet been paid for his work on An Idiot Abroad and concluded the interview with an off-the-cuff link into the hourly news.
Pilkington has worked independently of Gervais and Merchant on several projects. He appeared as a guest on the shows Flipside TV and The Culture Show, and appeared in several short films as part of the Channel 4 project 3 Minute Wonders.
Merchant and Gervais have repeatedly denied claims that Pilkington's persona is their creation. In an on-air response to similar claims made by Chris Campling during a broadcast on Xfm, Merchant stated that he would be "ashamed" if the radio show had been scripted, and added that "I would not have squandered a character that good on this poxy radio station." Gervais concurred, pointing out that writing a single series' worth of six half-hour episodes of shows such as The Office and Extras consumed as long as a full year of their time. An interviewer for The Daily Telegraph concluded that Pilkington's persona is genuine.
Pilkington appeared in an interview on Gervais's live standup comedy DVD Politics. The DVD of Gervais's film The Invention of Lying contains a special feature called Meet Karl Pilkington that documents his participation in the film as a non-speaking caveman in another special feature, The Dawn of Lying.[unreliable source?] He was given a small role in the final episode of Extras.
In September 2010, Pilkington starred in An Idiot Abroad, a light-hearted Sky1 travel documentary series produced by Gervais and Merchant in which he visits the New 7 Wonders of the World while participating in various activities along the way. He wrote a book to accompany the series.
The second series, subtitled The Bucket List, debuted on 23 September 2011 on Sky 1 and features Pilkington partaking in ultimate experiences from a list selected for him. In June 2011, he won the Best Presenter award for An Idiot Abroad at the Factual Entertainment Awards. The third series of the show, An Idiot Abroad: The Short Way Round, premiered in November 2012 and showed Pilkington and Warwick Davis travelling the Marco Polo route.
He made his acting debut on 12 April 2012 in the Channel 4 comedy-drama Derek, portraying caretaker and bus driver Dougie. He left the show after the first episode of the second series. From 2013 to 2015, Pilkington starred in a two-series Sky 1 documentary called The Moaning of Life. From 2018 to 2020, he co-wrote and starred in a Sky 1 scripted sitcom called Sick of It. Pilkington has also performed voice-over work for such clients as One Stop Office Shop, FreeView, Vodafone, HMV, Sony PSP, WHSmith, Wickes and Unilever.
In 2014, Pilkington designed and signed his own card for the Thomas Coram Foundation for Children charity. The campaign was launched by crafting company Stampin' Up! UK, and his card, along with those designed and signed by other celebrities, was auctioned on eBay in May 2014.
Pilkington has been in a long-term relationship with his partner Suzanne, who was regularly mentioned on Xfm and on his podcast appearances. He has supported Manchester United since the 1990s, having previously supported Manchester City as a child.
|2009||The Invention of Lying||Caveman||Cameo, cut from final release.|
|2006||3 Minute Wonder||Segment: "Some Thoughts by Karl Pilkington"|
|2007||Comedy Lab||Episode: "Karl Pilkington: Satisfied Fool"|
|Extras||Autograph Hunter||Episode: "2007 Christmas Special"|
|Monkey Lovers (Documentary)||Himself||Voice|
|2010–2012||The Ricky Gervais Show|
|An Idiot Abroad|
|2013–2015||The Moaning of Life||Himself|
|2018–2020||Sick of It||Karl|
|2001–2011||The Ricky Gervais Show||Himself|
|2006||The World of Karl Pilkington||978-0007240272|
|2007||Happyslapped by a Jellyfish||978-1405328470|
|2008||Karlology: What I've Learnt So Far||978-1405333351|
|2010||An Idiot Abroad: The Travel Diaries of Karl Pilkington||978-1847679260|
|2012||The Further Adventures of An Idiot Abroad||978-0857867490|
|2013||The Moaning of Life: The Worldly Wisdom of Karl Pilkington||978-1782111511|
|2016||More Moaning: The Enlightened One Returns||978-1782117315|
Gervais set up Risk Productions along with Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington to make the second series following the success of the first Mentorn Media-produced series.