Horse in the House
The story of a neighbour who had a horse in their house is arguably the most famous anecdote told by Karl Pilkington. It is thought of by many fans as a defining moment in the history of The Ricky Gervais Show.
As Ricky and Steve's first series on Xfm progressed, the comedy duo were becoming more and more intrigued by Karl and his unique outlook on life as well as his highly unusual childhood in Manchester. As an easy and entertaining way of picking Karl's mind, Ricky and Steve created the feature White Van Karl, where they would ask "The K-Man" various topical questions as featured in The Sun newspaper. On 06 April 2002, Steve asked Karl a question from the rag about genetically modified babies.
No Carpet... and a Horse in the Living Room
Karl wasn't concerned about genetically modified babies. The general concern is that everyone will choose a baby with good looking features, but Karl didn't think this is an issue as he believes the way a child is raised determines how they look. He went on to describe a family who lived on the estate he grew up on in Manchester who were "a bit rough". He noted how the mother, a Pauline Quirk lookalike, wasn't very good looking, and how the house had bare floorboards and wasn't clean. Karl mentioned briefly in the conversation that the woman's kid used to take a horse into the house. Karl attempted to continue his point but was stopped by Ricky and Steve who were understandably shocked. When Ricky asked where the kid got the horse, Karl simply replied that they must have "nicked it from somewhere" (followed by several minutes raucous laughter and joking from Ricky and Steve). When the conversation continued, Karl admitted he didn't have all the facts but would assume the horse was stolen as the family didn't have enough money to purchase one. He vaguely recalled a nearby stable and imagined that was whence the horse was stolen. Steve suggested that the family were hard-up because they spent all their money on the costs of keeping the horse, but Karl wasn't convinced. Karl then went on to describe how he saw the horse. The first time was when he and his father were driving down the street and, as they passed the house in question, Karl looked in the window and saw a horse in the lounge "just walking around". The second time was when Karl tried to earn some money by selling flowers in plastic pots door-to-door and when he knocked on the rough family's house he noticed the horse again.
Of all the stories told by Karl over the years, the horse in the house got one of the more over-the-top reactions from Ricky and Steve, both were shocked and struggled to grasp what exactly was going on in that house. Both had many questions but Karl admitted he didn't have the details. Ricky couldn't understand how they obtained the horse as the costs in keeping and looking after one are so high. Steve questioned the safety and comfort of the horse but Karl claimed that a horse would much rather be in a house with a "three piece suite and a telly an' that" than in a stable with a bit of hay. Like many other anecdotes from Karl's childhood, some people have questioned whether or not this story is true. Karl himself said during a show on BBC Radio 2 that he has received emails in the past accusing him of making it up but to this day he still claims it's true. In interviews, Steve Merchant errantly refers to this story as being the first moment he and Ricky realized there was something special about Karl. In reality, Karl's oddness was well established before the first telling of this story.
Mentions on the Show
- Karl went on to finish his original point after the story of the horse in the house. He said that the rough family with the horse had a new baby and Karl's Mam was surprised to see it was a beautiful baby, however, Karl went on to say that because of the poor way it was raised it was dirty, it chased cars and its hair went patchy and therefore it became an ugly kid, thus proving Karl's point that people don't need to worry about genetically modified babies. Steve wondered if the child was Liam Gallagher.