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The infamous book

Karl Pilkington has an obsession with "freaks", which Ricky often says started in his youth because he attended school with children with enlarged heads and webbed hands. During Karl's time on Xfm he created a segment called Cheeky Freak Of The Week, in which he would tell the audience something about an interesting and unusual person or type of people. Some of Karl's favourite freaks were shown in Happyslapped By A Jellyfish in which he listed The Pillow Man, Three-Legged Juggler and Karl's perennial favourite John Merrick The Elephant Man. Karl has also implied that Steve is a freak.

Tod Browning's Freaks

On 22nd March 2003 Xfm show at the behest of Ricky and Steve, Karl watched the 1932 film Freaks, directed by Tod Browning. Somewhat surprisingly, Karl did not enjoy it as much as they thought he would. Pilkington noted that the film "takes a while to get onto it" in regard to the images of freaks. Pilkington thought the 15 rating should have mentioned Pinheads. He became very confused about a woman with an ageing disease and openly admitted he was not interested in the storyline. A man in the film who had no legs led to Karl telling a story of a similarly disabled man playing E.T. Karl felt that the title built the movie beyond his expectations. He even says that Merchant would fit into the cast perfectly which led to Merchant slapping Pilkington.

Also, for quite some time Karl carried around with him the FHM book entitled Freaks.

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