An Idiot Abroad is now in its second series and there is no doubting its ever growing popularity, which has seen the rise of an unlikely personality on our screens. This show is the brainchild of comedy double team Stephen Merchant and Ricky Gervais, and portrays the skewed perspective and irreverent humour of central character, Karl Pilkington, on his travels to far flung destinations around the globe.
However, Ricky and Stephen play
devil's advocate here, sending Karl to the most obscure places imaginable, off the beaten track, and into situations that he often finds unbearable and awkward. The comedy comes from this tension and dismay as Karl bemoans his misfortune on the road, in places he would rather not be. He admits himself he has no interest in world travel, but is set on his way regardless for our viewing pleasure.
For instance, in series 1 Karl had to negotiate the pyramids of Egypt, as opposed to the Coliseum in Rome, as Merchant and Gervais felt Italy was too predictable and safe. Later in the series Karl has to prepare a feast for a tribal king in ceremonial garb, he meets a society of reformed cannibals and then comes face to face with a rhino. But this is only the tip of the ice berg, and he gets himself into many more scrapes along the way, including a failed attempt as a Cowboy in Mexico.
In series 1, a camera crew followed Karl on his journey in search of the Seven Wonders of the World. While Series 2 documents Karl's “bucket list” journey, on a sort of 100 things to do before you die adventure. However, the “bucket list” has been sabotaged by Gervais and Merchant once more, and the list is far from what Karl had in mind.
They send Karl to spend a night on a desert island in the pouring down rain, where he has to build his own shelter in a grass skirt, and has only a small yam for sustenance. As you can imagine, he was not in the best of moods the morning after.
This second series has been an unmitigated success and on the 23 September 2011 reached viewing figures of 2,659,000, which represents a huge slice of the demographic. Who knows where Karl will be sent next, but one thing is for sure, this is only the beginning of his mad capped adventure.