An Idiot Abroad

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An Idiot Abroad

Promotional photo of Karl
Genre Comedy/Travel show
Running time 60 min
Creator(s) Ricky Gervais & Stephen Merchant
Starring Karl Pilkington
Country UK
Network Sky1, The Science Channel
No. of episodes 20

An Idiot Abroad (formerly known as Karl Pilkington's Seven Wonders Of The World) is a travel show on Sky1. It features Karl Pilkington traveling the globe, experiencing new things and often finding himself in uncrompromising situations. The first series saw Karl visit each of the Seven Wonders of the World. In the second series Karl got to select several activities that would typically feature on a 'bucket list'. Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant also appear in the series, usually in a pre-episode interview with Karl and several phone calls throughout the episode. Both series of the show feature a final episode recap of Karl's experiences. The third series, known as "The Short Way Round", is a three-part series following a similar format, though without Stephen Merchant. In this series, Karl is joined by actor Warwick Davis as the pair loosely follow Marco Polo's route from Venice, Italy to China.

The official podcast from An Idiot Abroad has proved highly successful in the iTunes charts, with a number of top positions.


Series One

A preview show of An Idiot Abroad aired on 5 September 2010 and the first episode of the series begins transmission on 23rd September 2010 on Sky 1. Whether the experience broadened Karls’ horizons remains to be seen, but the series is a classic piece of travelogue, style programming that never fails to entertain. During the editing process Gervais stated on his blog, “I cannot wait for this show to air. Karl is the funniest, baldest, grumpiest Manc twat in the world.” Each episode documents Karl on his journey to one of the seven wonders. On the eighth and final episode, Pilkington meets with Gervais and Merchant to discuss the overall experience and hear some of the feedback from the critics.

In February 2010 Gervais stated via his blog that Pilkington had lost weight due to the food in India, or as Gervais put it "he shat himself thin". Gervais also confirmed that he and Merchant have been involved with the editing of the show.

In April 2011, a news item on Merchant's web site stated that An Idiot Abroad 2: The Bucket List is in production, with Karl in Alaska whale-watching. One of his voicemail messages has also been uploaded to Youtube. A photo on Gervais' blog also reveals Pilkington in parachute gear, and an interview with an Australian radio station has Karl talking about visiting various places in Australia - including one 'task' of swimming with a shark.

A quote about the Australian tasks featured in an Adelaide newspaper:

"He came face-to-face with a few sharks," Gervais said.

"I went all the way to Australia to swim with dolphins," explained Pilkington, "That's what I thought I picked on the list. Got in the cage ... shark."

Series Two

On September 23rd 2011 at 9:00 PM the first episode of An Idiot Abroad 2 aired on Sky1 in the United Kingdom. The first episode features Karl spending a night alone on a Desert Island but also includes Bungy Jumping in New Zealand, meeting a tribe in Vanuatu and Karl's honorary induction into a second tribe where every word in their language starts with an "N". Subsequent episodes saw Karl singing Van Halen in America, dressing as a woman in Thailand, observing gorillas in Uganda, getting buried alive, getting fed up, and getting sick. On the eighth and final episode, Karl gets the chance to sell pants he invented while climbing Mt. Fuji in Japan. He also gets a finger up his arse.

Series Three

Travel Diary

Karl also kept a travel diary that documents his trips to all of the seven wonders. The diary has been released as a book and is titled, An Idiot Abroad: The Travel Diaries of Karl Pilkington. It is available for purchase from Canongate Books and has been officially reviewed by Pilkipedia.

It was announced on March 8th 2012 that Karl would be releasing a second travel diary. This became "The Further Adventures of An Idiot Abroad" and was released in the UK on September 20th 2012. It is also available for purchase from Canongate Books.


Series 1

Title Series Original Airdate Buy #
Preview Special Series 1 5 September 2010 TBA 0
Ricky and Steve sit down with Karl to discuss his travels in this preview special. Clips are shown from the series and Karl adds some descriptions of the places that he visited. As usual, Ricky and Steve react to Karl's views with bursts of laughter. The pair even attempt to wind Karl up with some of their patented role-playing.
Episode One: China Series 1 23 September 2010 TBA 1
The first country on the docket is China. In this episode, Karl visits The Great Wall of China, learns a bit of Kung Fu, and eats some toad. Karl genuinely finds himself confused and bewildered by a strange culture where the public toilets have no doors or toilet paper and people eat cockroaches and scorpions.
Episode Two: India Series 1 30 September 2010 TBA 2
Karl travels to India in this episode to visit the Taj Mahal. He clashes with culture again as he has difficulty understanding spirituality at the Kumbh Mela Festival. He also takes a swim in the Ganges River, meets the Elephant Baba, and participates in Holi Day!
Episode Three: Jordan Series 1 7 October 2010 TBA 3
Not only does Karl get the opportunity to visit Jordan in this episode, but he also makes a stop over in Israel. He visits the Wailing Wall, Jerusalem, and sees Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus in the West Bank. An extreme kidnapping scenerio tests his bravery and he gets to fully experience Petra by riding a camel across the desert and sleeping in a cave.
Episode Four: Mexico Series 1 14 October 2010 TBA 4
In this episode, Karl is taken to Mexico to visit the Chichen Itza. As luck would have it, he is there for Easter Sunday, and he gets to witness a re-enactment of the Passion, and he learns how the locals punish Judas Iscariot. While there, he also tries his hand at wrestling and learns how to be a charro.
Episode Five: Egypt Series 1 21 October 2010 TBA 5
In this episode, Pilkington gets swarmed in a market, has lunch at a deaf KFC, and visits The Great Pyramids.
Episode Six: Brazil Series 1 28 October 2010 TBA 6
In this episode, Pilkington wanders the beaches of Rio de Janeiro and visits the towering statue of Christ The Redeemer.
Episode Seven: Peru Series 1 4 November 2010 TBA 7
In this episode, Pilkington visits the pre-Columbian Inca site known as Machu Picchu, an "Old Mountain" perched on a mountain ridge above the Urubamba Valley in Peru.
Episode Eight: Karl Comes Home Series 1 11 November 2010 TBA 8
In this final episode, Pilkington meets with Ricky Gervais and Steve Merchant to discuss his travels.

Series 2

Title Series Original Airdate Buy #
Episode One: Desert Island Series 2 23 September 2011 TBA 1
In the first episode of the new series, Karl heads to Vanuatu in the South Pacific to spend a night alone on a desert Island. Along the way Karl tries his hand at land diving and meets a tribe that worship Prince Phillip.
Episode Two: Trans-Siberian Railway Series 2 30 September 2011 TBA 2
In this episode Karl rides the Trans-Siberian Railway from Russia to China. He meets a magnetic man, gets buried alive and creates his own superhero. Karl's dream comes true as he finally gets to visit a village for dwarfs, much to the dismay of Warwick Davis.
Episode Three: Swimming With Dolphins Series 2 7 October 2011 TBA 3
Karl heads to Australia to partake in what is possibly the most popular activity to do before you die, swimming with dolphins. On his way Karl makes a stop in Thailand to meet some lady boys and learn Thai boxing. Karl is shocked to learn that he may not be swimming with dolpins, but with something much larger.
Episode Four: Whale Watching Series 2 14 October 2011 TBA 4
Karl visits Alaska to partake in some whale watching. Along the way he builds an igloo, gets a lift from a pack of huskies and eats some frozen whale.
Episode Five: Meet A Gorilla Series 2 21 October 2011 TBA 5
In this episode Karl heads to Uganda to encounter a wild gorilla. Before reaching Uganda Karl makes a stop in South Africa to help a local community build a new hut, discuss safe sex with school kids and cooks for a king. Karl Can't believe his luck when he meets a hippo in a house.
Episode Six: Route 66 Series 2 28 October 2011 TBA 6
Karl visits the USA to drive across the legendary Route 66. During his journey he performs with a Glee club, attends a cuddle party and spends some time with an Amish family.
Episode Seven: Mount Fuji Series 2 4 November 2011 TBA 7
Karl travels to Japan to tackle the great Mount Fuji. During his time in Japan, Karl gets inspired by all the outlandish inventions and decides it is time he invented something. Never one for embracing new food, he is unimpressed with the unusual Japanese cuisine. Karl reveals his invention, the "Pilko Pump Pants".
Episode Eight: Series Two Recap Series 2 11 November 2011 TBA 8
In the final episode of the series, the boys discuss Karl's travels and various experiences. This episode is not without it's surprises as Karl receives an unwelcome visit from a doctor, shows off his Pilko Pump Pants infomercial and gets to perform a song with some musical legends.

Series 3

Title Series Original Airdate Buy #
Episode One: Venice & Macedonia Series 3 30 November 2012 TBA 1
In the first episode of the new series, Karl and Warwick attend a costume party in Venice, Karl attempts to use a jet-pack, and the pair stay with gypsies in Macedonia who believe touching Warwick's head will bring them luck.
Episode Two: India Series 3 7 December 2012 TBA 2
In this episode, the pair travel on to India, where they participate in laughing yoga and star in "Chingari", a Bollywood film. In a near-replay of the second episode of series two, Karl's dream comes true as he finally gets to see a pair of conjoined twins called "the spider sisters", much to the dismay of Warwick.
Episode Three: China Series 3 14 December 2012 TBA 3
After concluding their visit with "the spider sisters", Karl and Warwick go to China. The two share the challenge of ascending the steps of a Buddhist temple, and Karl shares lamb testicles with Warwick. The journey ends with adventures atop the Macao tower.
Episode Four: Series Three Recap Series 2 21 December 2012 TBA 4

Name Change

The show was initially titled Karl Pilkington's Seven Wonders of the World, however a decision was made to change the name to the more provocative An Idiot Abroad without Pilkington's knowledge. The name change was actually revealed to Pilkington halfway through the show in order to record his reaction. Pilkington himself has said in interviews that he thinks the name change will harm the show and that people will not want to watch a program about an idiot.

In a poll on Pilkipedia 61% of fans reported to be happy with the name change.


The show has broken numerous records on release, both in the UK and abroad. For instance, two episodes of An Idiot Abroad are in Sky 1's top ten highest ratings shows of all-time and was the highest pay-TV programme of 2010 (minus terrestrial channels, football and The Inbetweeners). Also, in the States it is the highest rating series ever for The Science Channel.

The ratings for the UK broadcasts on Sky 1, sourced by the UK TV ratings panel BARB, are:

Series One

  • Episode One: China - 1.16 million (individuals)
  • Episode Two: India - 1.26 million
  • Episode Three: Jordan - 1.68 million
  • Episode Four: Mexico - 1.48 million
  • Episode Five: Egypt - 1.45 million
  • Episode Six: Brazil - 1.38 million
  • Episode Seven: Peru - 1.74 million
  • Episode Eight: Karl Comes Home - 1.47 million

Series Two

  • Episode One: Desert Island - 2.65 million
  • Episode Two: Trans-Siberian Railway - 2.19 million
  • Episode Three: Swimming With Dolphins - 2.22 million
  • Episode Four: Whale Watching - 2.24 million
  • Episode Five: Meet A Gorilla - 2.18 million
  • Episode Six: Route 66 - 2.21 million
  • Episode Seven: Mount Fuji - 2.59 million
  • Episode Eight: Series Two Recap - 2.26 million

Series Three

  • Episode One - 923,000 (individuals)

Releases Worldwide

The show has been broadcast around the world, and is sold by production company Mentorn International.

  • USA - The Science Channel
  • Australia - Network Ten
  • Canada - Discovery Channel
  • New Zealand - TV3
  • Sweden - SVT
  • Finland - YLE
  • Norway - NRK
  • Iceland - ITC Skjarinn

The releases abroad have often seen promotional stings from Pilkington, Gervais and Merchant. For instance, prior to the premiere airing in Australia the boys were interviewed for various radio stations and newspapers.

Gervais has said about the show being aired across the world: "Karl didn't even go to school and now look at him. I can't wait to hear how they announce it on air. 'And now on Science Channel, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant send a chimp around the world to annoy it.'"

DVD release

A DVD and Blu-ray release of the first series of An Idiot Abroad was released in the UK on 15 November 2010 and in the US on 10 January 2012.

The second series was released in the UK on DVD and Blu-ray on 21 November 2011 and in the US on 8 January 2013.

The third series was released in the UK on DVD and Blu-ray on 24 December 2012.


  • Karl: "I had to get an injection to protect me from a dirty chimp."
  • Karl:(looking at the rubbish near the Pyramids) "Shitty nappy whizzing through the air, you don't see that in the brochures."
  • Ricky: "He's 23 but his penis is 102. What can we do about that?
    Karl: Is this any use?"
  • Karl: "What's so good about The Amazon? Can't be that good; there are things in it that would rather live in me knob."
  • Karl: "I've never seen anyone bend over as much as him."
  • Karl:(on the odd toilet system in China) "Whenever you buy toilet roll holders, it says, "Made in China". Why aren't they using them then?"
  • Karl: " the end I ate one."
  • Karl:(on the Dead Sea) "Something that I read in the book: this is the lowest place...on the world. I know we don't normally have, sort of, information on this programme 'n that, like not proper stuff anyway, but that's a little bit."
  • Karl:(on Cairo) "That song walk like an Egyptian - no-one's walking, everyone seems to be in a car at all hours. Just beeping."
  • Karl:(on his thoughts on the Great Wall Of China) "The alright wall of China."
  • Karl: "Looks like a game of Jenga that got out of hand."
  • Karl: (on The Great Wall of China) "Just goes for miles and miles....but so does the M6."
  • Karl: "Like a little tornado innit. You don't see that in the brochure. Shitty old nappy whizzing through the air. They tend to leave that out."
  • Karl: "I'm not going on a camel again, I'm not going on a camel again, I'm not going on a camel again..."
  • Karl:(sitting on a camel) "Me bollocks are squashed."
  • Karl: "China's grey enough, why would you want to see it in HD?"
  • Karl: "Wake up, Nietzsche."
  • Karl: "The beauty of radio is you can listen to it in the dark."
  • Ricky: "You are the strangest man on the planet."
    Karl: "You haven't been to China."
  • Karl:(on the Pyramids) "It's like a massive game of jenga, that's got out of hand."
  • Karl:(on India's unhealthy obsession with cows) "You can still like the cow, without going that far. Without the shit and the piss."
  • Karl: (from an interview about the show) "If someone took me back to Egypt and said, "The Pyramids are that way, or there's a sleepy lizard over there," I'd rather see the sleepy lizard."




External Links