Interview with Karl Pilkington & Warwick Davis
With An Idiot Abroad Series 3 (aka The Short Way Round) due on Sky 1 soon (30th November at 9pm), we’ve been passed this little interview with it’s 2 stars, Karl Pilkington & Warwick Davis!
So Karl, this is your third series – what enticed you back? I did get the sense that you enjoyed the second a lot more.
I got better at being away and knowing that, when I get home, once time’s gone, I can look back on stuff and go, that wasn’t that bad and I enjoyed it a bit, I got something out of it. Whereas the first time, I hated it and didn’t know what I was going to be thinking when I got home. Do you know what I mean?
And you had an element of control in the second.
At least I was picking something that I was gonna… I mean there was always something. It’s like with this one, there’s always something that’s mad that I look back on it and go, that’s pretty amazing to say that I’ve done that or been there.
Like the pleasure tent in Venice maybe?
That was weird.
It was pretty toe-curling to watch.
Warwick: It was weird at the time, but watching it back you go, wow, this really was a weird thing that we did.
This is a whole new adventure for you Warwick. What, or who, persuaded you take part?
I said to Ricky when we were filming Life’s Too Short, how lucky Karl was that he got to do all of that stuff, what an amazing job to have to get to travel, and how I didn’t really think he appreciated it that much. I guess that started Ricky thinking about that and what Karl might be doing next.
You make quite the odd couple.
K & W: Yeah.
W: I guess it kind of is. I do travel quite a lot for my work anyway and I enjoy experiencing different things and seeing…
K: [Interrupts] …but not like that though.
W: Not like the pleasure tent, no, that was something.
K: Yeah, I hope not.
W: I went into that for the theatre of the whole thing, I like that whole tradition of the masquerade ball and everything, but I didn’t know it was quite so sort of seedy.
It wasn’t as though you experienced the Venice advertised in your everyday holiday brochure. What about your unnerving experience on the beach with the drunken holy men in India?
K: That was scary that night weren’t it?
W: It seemed like a good idea that would make good TV, having a chat with them because they were doing what we were doing, camping on the beach, I thought, to see the sunrise. They’d be lucky if they did see the sunrise that lot.
K: Yeah, they wouldn’t be seeing anything. And they were chucking rocks at you weren’t they?
W: They were – and sand.
I thought camping at Isle of Wight was bad.
K: We’re in the middle of nowhere, if something had happened… There were loads of them weren’t there? People seemed to keep coming.
W: They appeared out of the darkness. We thought we were, sort of, alone on this beach.
K: It was going dark, we were walking on this land thinking, is the sea going to come in, because it was all a bit soft? Then they said, pitch here, and you were like, yeah, this is where the sun’s coming up. Suddenly we heard other voices – who’s that, and that fella was like, oh, monks. It just got out of hand. I’m sure I looked up at one point and there must have been 50 people.
W: We were outnumbered.
K: Let’s go, and we went back to the car and it was all a bit of a rush weren’t it?
You both seem to get on really well here, today, but, Karl, at the start of the programme you’re not overjoyed to hear that you’ll be travelling with Warwick. Why?
K: Because I was worried about it looking bad. Me always wanting to move on and get things done quicker, I was thinking he was going to hold me up. You know, there’s no going away, that’s the honesty. It’s all very well Ricky setting it up but he’s not the one that’s got to do the journey, and it’s just that thing, it’s like, I don’t know, like going a walk on your own or going for a walk with your dog. It’s that thing of the dog’s going to keep stopping, pissing on a lamp…
K: …the journey’s going to take longer.
Warwick, did you have the same concerns about Karl?
K: Well, I don’t think he’d even thought it through.
W: Not really. I was kind of setting out determined to experience the whole trip as fully as I possibly could, to take everything from it. It’s one of those once-in-a-lifetime things, you know. Going into it, I didn’t know…
K: [Interrupts] …you didn’t know anything.
W: …how much Karl was going to get to me at times, and how difficult that was going to be.
You did bicker a fair bit and I wanted to get to the root of the problem.
W: It’s the pressure of the situation – we’re in a nice room here aren’t we, relaxed?
Even when you go away with friends, it’s like, I need some space because you are doing my nut in.
K: Anyone. It’s nothing to do with Warwick, it could have been anyone and we would have been having little bickering things, because you do.
It wasn’t as though you were having full-blown arguments.
K: No, it was little things. If you go away with, you know, a girlfriend, wife, whatever, you have an argument on holiday because you’re not used to spending that much time with people. Normally, you see them, you’ve got your own job to go off and do, but we were with each other all the time. Eventually, the things that at the beginning were sort of [tuts, sighs] get under your skin and you’d be like, oh, shut up. It was never nasty.
I was wondering if maybe there was some rivalry or resentment because, previously Karl, it was yourshow, but now you’re sharing.
K: No, I liked it and kind of thought, great, it’s less work for me. If he’s busy getting on with something, then I can sit and watch for a change, instead of always being the one doing it. I was grateful for that. It was also nice getting Warwick’s view on stuff that we’d experienced together, because that doesn’t normally happen. It’s normally a cameraman and soundman, you get on with it and you’re the only one to experience it, so if you moan or have something to say, there’s no-one to, sort of, see if they had the same feelings. That was good.
Warwick, you also seem to make a real effort to open Karl’s eyes.
W: I did try to make him realise and inform him about what was around us.
And you bought him an ice cream.
W: Yeah, I got you some ice cream. You have to do the tourist-y things, you’ve got to.
K: It’s things like that, though. It was right at the beginning, it was the first day.
W: I was trying to get off on the right foot, thought I’d get you some ice cream, see the pigeons, feed them – you’ve got to do that when you’re there.
K: I just see it as, let’s do what we’ve got to do and move on.
W: That was it, there was always Karl, whenever we were doing anything, let’s just get it done. It’s like,looking at a sunset, sunrise or whatever, let’s just get it done.
Karl, it’s almost like you’ve got Stockholm syndrome. You’re so used to enduring everything that Ricky throws at you that you’re almost immune to it?
W: There you go.
K: That’s what it is, isn’t it, when you get on with your kidnapper? I see it as get-on-with-it, I’m very much, let’s get this done today, because we’ve got tomorrow to do and the day after. I just want to tick it off. I do wish I had a bit of you [Warwick] in me, where I did sit down and take it in because I don’t do that till I get home. It’s only when I look at photographs or, you know, we watch the programme back, bloody hell, I can’t believe I was in that situation because, at the time, I was just on edge.
W: I tried to get you to do that; tried to say sometimes, just soak it in a minute. I don’t think that’s in the show, but you couldn’t understand what I was on about.
I think you’re getting there, though, Karl.
W: I do as well. If you look at the first series, he’s a completely different man now isn’t he? Well, as far as when he travels.
Like the Bollywood sequence. I thought you, Warwick, would take to it naturally being an actor, and that, Karl, you’d just cringe, but that wasn’t the case at all – you lapped it up.
W: He loves dancing, though, doesn’t he?
K: I like dancing. I suppose I’m more open to give things a go, but what I’m not good at yet is holding back. If something is daft or rubbish, I just go, I can’t be doing it.
W: You like things on your terms don’t you? That’s what I’ve noticed about you.
K: Feeling in control.
W: Like the dance at the Bollywood, that was on your terms, but you didn’t like the choreographed bit we rehearsed.
K: No, I know.
W: But the free-form stuff on your terms, love it. Each thing on the trip, if Karl felt like he was in control a bit more, then it was…
K: … I was happy.
W: Except for the jet pack, of course.
K: But again, that’s what I thought I was going to be in control of – there I am, I wanted to do it, I’ve got the controls, I can make it move when I want it to move, and it all went wrong. I mean, I nearly died. I’m not even joking. It was quite mad, weren’t it? Everybody on the boat panicked a bit because I was really like… I couldn’t breathe.
W: It was a real panic situation.
It was an amazing TV moment.
K: No [laughs].
Only because it was meant to be so cool and James Bond-y.
W: It was cumbersome.
K: The weight of it, and I’m rubbish at swimming. I’m not good in water, it’s that thing of, if you’re confident it’s probably a good thing to do.
Warwick wasn’t massively sympathetic, but you get your own back, Karl, when you attach him to some balloons.
W: Exactly. Imagine me on those balloons, I’m looking down and all I see is Karl, giggling, and a load of kids who aren’t trained in health and safety in any way. All I’ve got is a pair of scissors in case I’m going up too high, to cut the balloons to come down again. I’d have been in Albania before I could have done anything.
K: Looking back, it’s one of them things, it’s like, you know when you’re a kid you do stupid things, and you look back, you go, that was really dangerous? That was one of them for me. I was enjoying it, thinking you’re not going anywhere.
That happened near the beginning of your adventure, so maybe you were venting, just in an extreme way.
K: It was. I think it had built up, because…
K: Is that in the programme when I’m sort of having a go at Richard [the director] because he’s having a go at me for letting you on there?
Karl, do you ever feel you took it too far with Warwick?
K: No, because I was expected to do it, but there just weren’t enough balloons. Why was it alright for me but, oooh, you can’t put Warwick on it? That’s what I didn’t get. It felt like everyone having a go at me, yet, you know, it’s like, hang on, 10 minutes ago, I was on the end of them.
W: You weren’t going anywhere, though, were you?
K: No, but I was giving it a go.
You have a very unconventional run by the way, Karl.
K: It’s really hard – [looks at Warwick] how hard is it? There is a pull there, so, you know, to run… I know it does look ridiculous, when I saw it, I was a bit like, ugh, doesn’t look good.
W: It doesn’t look good.
K: Even though they couldn’t lift me off the ground, there’s still something there so I was basically…
W: But the astronauts on the moon didn’t run like that did they? And that was sort of the same effect.
K: [Sighs] Yeah, alright.
Do you think Ricky was purposely stirring up trouble between you both? There was a notable difference in the standard of the rooms you stayed in Karl to the ones Warwick did.
K: But I didn’t see that. I’m trying to think… The first time I was aware of that was probably on the boat in episode three. It’s not until then that I click. We were always sort of kept separately when they weren’t filming, you know, in the morning when they do the filming in the different rooms.
W: I didn’t ask for any of it, it’s just how we ended up.
You must have appreciated your time apart.
K: Oh yeah, that’s the thing, I wasn’t wanting to be next door to you or anything, so I wasn’t really looking for it. Which episode is it where I’m in the hotel room and I’ve got a view of chairs?
W: Oh god.
And Warwick’s got the view of the beach.
K: I didn’t know that and then I saw Richard the director and I’ve gone, have you set that up, and he’s going, what, and I’m going, have you seen what I’m looking out on? He’s going, no, and they came up and they were just pissing themselves laughing.
From watching the first couple of episodes, I got the sense that you both know how to push each other’s buttons, like Karl’s critiques, Warwick, of your acting career, saying you played a bear in Star Wars.
K: Because that’s what it is.
W: It would have helped if you’d done some research, done it properly, and it’s not, it’s more than that.
K: It’s not, it’s a little bear.
W: That’s like me saying, all you’ve done is appear on TV and a podcast moaning.
K: Yeah, but I’d say, yeah, but I have reason to.
W: I never had a chance to do that because you never actually said to me, Warwick, let’s talk about your career. You’d always do it on the sly, off-camera; ooh, he’s only playing a green goblin.
K: But I didn’t want to talk about acting, you’re always on about acting.
W: I didn’t talk about it that much.
K: You did, honestly. Remember it’s in the programme quite a lot and that’s only a little bit of what you were saying. Even Richard said to me, f***ing hell, he’s going on about acting again. He might have been stirring it up, though, he might have been doing it so I say something.
Taking your experience as a whole, do you think you’ve learnt a lot from each other?
W: I’ve learnt tolerance.
K: I’ve learnt that, even though I’ve travelled about, I haven’t changed that much. When you see episode three, what I’ve learnt is that Warwick changed a lot on the trip and did stuff that wasn’t easy and, by the end, I’m just the same. I didn’t notice but my girlfriend watched it and she just said, you haven’t changed one bit have you? She said, that sums it up, the way that Warwick did what he did there, and you’re just…If I don’t get it straight away, bin it, forget it, I don’t want to know. That’s what I was like at school, if I don’t understand, forget it.
W: When I grew up, you know, if I couldn’t do it the first time, I had to have another go. I think it’s physically being challenged by stuff; you have to have a few goes to do it.
K: But that’s the thing, in episode three with the mountain climb, it’s you going, I want to do it, whereas I’d go, forget it. That’s what I was saying to you, if you don’t want to do it, let’s not do it, what’s the problem?
W: That’s because you didn’t want to do it, that’s why you said that.
K: I have no regrets. People have said about when I was in Russia doing the plummet, what’s it called, zero gravity, and I didn’t do it, or the bungee jump I didn’t do – have you got regrets? I never have regrets. I decide at that point whether I’m doing something or not and then it’s gone.
W: That’s an amazing quality to have, to not look back on anything with regret.
K: I might do in years to come, I don’t know, but at this moment in time, I’ve never had any regrets in my life.
Karl, what are Warwick’s best and worst qualities, and vice versa?
K: I wish you’d lose it more.
K: That’s part of why I was annoying you. I’m pretty bad at, if I get annoyed, I sort of, arghhh! I vent, that’s the word, and, for me, that makes me feel better after. It never really happened to you, even when you were fed up, you were always sort of: oh, it’ll be alright.
So it’s almost like Warwick took the mature or optimistic approach.
W: Thank you very much.
K: But is it? I think it’s unhealthy. One day, you’re going to just go mental and wipe people out or something because you’re keeping it all in.
W: Is that what’s going to happen [laughs]?
I can see both points of view, and maybe it is worth exploding sometimes.
W: I did have a couple of little explosions, like when you were trying to force feed me.
K: I wanted you to have some explosions in your arse.
W: I admire the fact that he goes back for more each time. He actually goes on one of these adventures, and then will go on again. I admire that about you. You give it a go.
W: I also admire that you actually do say what you think. We don’t all do that and it’s quite refreshing. It’s quite annoying at times, but it’s refreshing as well.
K: Yeah, that’s what I wish you’d do more.
W: I do say what I think – it was majestic, it was…
K: [Laughs] I didn’t believe you. I was like, there’s no way that’s what he’s thinking
Lastly, what were your holiday highlights? Karl, I’m guessing yours were the conjoined twins?
K: Yeah, definitely for me, I mean, not just that trip, but of all the trips I’ve done, that for me was amazing and I’ll never forget it.
W: Climbing the mountain stands out for me.
Dave has over 20 years experience in the digital industry, and is founder and editor of Geektown. Obviously a huge geek himself, he can often be found in front of the latest tv show or movie, on various video games, or with his head in a comic book.