The wit and wisdom of Karl Pilkington – from how to fix the NHS to the merits of YouTube

As The Moaning of Life returns for a second series, Karl Pilkington delivers his pearls of wisdom

If there’s one thing Karl Pilkington is known for it’s making a massive impression on Ricky Gervais and Steven Merchant with his ingenious views on the world.


That’s why the pair sent him off to discover more about it on An Idiot Abroad, before he returned to the UK and became known for sharing his thoughts about the universe via The Moaning of Life.

And now that he’s back for a second series on Sky1, we figured there was no better time to recall some of Karl’s greatest musings, delivered at a special screening of the first episode.

On why dog poo isn’t such a bad thing really…

“The way people walk around now reading a book, walking with Kindles, tweeting, Facebooking and all that, you couldn’t do that back in the 80s, you’d be covered in sh*t. So bring it back, I’d like dog shit again. I mean it did get bad, I’m not exaggerating, it was like a minefield. Our local park, it was like, if you didn’t go home with sh*t on your shoes it was an off day. There was something about that though, you knew you’d been out in the fresh hair if when you got home at night you were cleaning… I reckon I cleaned out me tread back then more than I cleaned me teeth.”

On Who Do You Think You Are…

“The director [of Moaning of Life] looked at getting me looked into, like on Who Do You Think You Are and apparently it’s like the dullest sort of family line going. In a way though I wasn’t bothered because I think I would have known anyway. It annoys me when you see, who’s the rower who went on Who Do You Think You Are who was related to God or something?”

“I’m not joking, it came up the other day, it was like Henry VIII and that bloke off the news who does financial news, is related to Henry VIII. To me, I sort of go, you’d think you know that. If you were related to God or Henry VIII, surely your family would be raving about that. I can’t believe you’d turn up and go ‘you’re f-ing joking’.”

On staying grounded…

“I think you just go right back to where you were when you left. Nothing really really changes you. I’m sure when Lenny Henry, who’s been out in Africa saving kids, when he gets home if there’s no milk in the fridge he still goes apish*t.”

“At the end of the day he’s been out there and he’s helped so good on him, I’m not slagging Lenny Henry off, that’s probably a headline now. Respect to him, but you do, you’re set in your ways. I’m not saying all this has been a total waste of time and nothing’s changed me. I’m sure in a way it has. But, I started all this late, I’m 43 now, so it’s pretty hard to change because I’ve done a little bit of performance art.”

On why he’s a toilet brush…

“You don’t get excited about going out and buying one but if you haven’t got one and you’ve left a mark there and you can’t get rid of it, suddenly it’s ‘Oh God I need one'”.

“And that’s what I’m like, I’m the equivalent of that. You don’t think about the toilet brush, you don’t get excited about going out and buying it, it’s just there doing it’s job in the corner and when you need it it’s there. That’s sort of what I’m like, I deliver when it comes to it, but at the beginning I don’t excite anyone.”

On why nature should NEVER be turned into live TV…

“I’m asking you to look at me doing performance art and all that, when nature sh*ts all over everything.”

“What annoys me is that Springwatch Live. It shouldn’t be live because there ain’t enough going on. They keep cutting to a box with owls in it in black and white. I’ve got a HD telly, with colour, and they show me this sort of fuzzy image of what looks like cotton wool in a box.”

On the merits of YouTube…

“I love YouTube. I mean I shouldn’t be saying that, I should be saying watch Sky1 so do that, but watch YouTubes. I reckon, I didn’t do well at school, didn’t learn much, but if YouTube was around when I was a kid I’d be doing something better than this now. You can be flicking through something about black holes, get a bit of light relief with a cat running into a glass door and back to something like the mimic octopus.”

“I think a good gauge of working out what sort of person you are is looking at your internet history. Forget your family history and everything, if you just look at what you look at, a few days later you sort of go ‘why was I looking at that?”

On his hottest travel tip…

“You see something I do in London, a little travel tip that I have is take a hot water bottle with you, especially on long drives and that because I’ve found that if you need a p*ss. Hot water bottle, I have one in the car under the passenger seat. Not so good for a woman. But that’s a great tip, have a hot water bottle with you  you can pee in that and then if your car breaks down in winter, you’ve got warm… Once you’ve got it, you’ll never look back.”

On how to fix TV and the NHS at the same time…

“I’m sick of singing stuff but it works, it gets people interested in it and we’ve probably got more singers than ever so I’ve always had that idea of doing the same sort of thing as X Factor or Let’s Dance or whatever it is on Sky and that. Same sort of format as that but doctors, like getting young people in and getting them to work in hospitals and like it all builds to an operation.”

“Because the NHS is on its arse and there’s not enough hospital beds and all that so this would help that out so every Saturday night it’s like there’s a live operation so they’re getting what they want, they’re getting seen. There’s big queues for operations isn’t there? None of that. You’ve got proper drama.”

“I mean the machine, the heart machine going bip bip bip bip, that’s like real tension. I’d watch that, I think I’d watch that. And at the end of it there’s someone who’s going to be a surgeon, I mean that’s what we need isn’t it? We need stuff like that, we’ve got enough singers”

“They start off at the lower end of the hospital, you’re getting to know the patient, back story, they love that, put the music in ‘oh I’ve been waiting for this operation, I can’t walk and all that’. The contestants are doing the rubbish jobs at the start, they’re emptying the bed pans. You lose the weak, ‘Oh I can’t do that, it’s making me gag.'”

“By about week three you’re going into removing ingrowing toenails, that sort of thing, has he got a lump. But then it builds, the finalists, you’ve two patients and they both need heart operations. People love all that.

“I think it’d be good, people love all that, I mean the amount of hospital dramas on the telly already so this is like that but real.”

On travelling the world…

“Everywhere you go there’s a good bit and then you turn a corner and it’s a sh*thole. Hampstead, Kentish Town. Wheever you go there’s good and bad so honestly, put your money to your mortgage or something like that, don’t waste it on holidays.”

And finally, on Karl Pilkington: The Moaning of Life 2…

“If that existed and I was me, I don’t know that I’d go out of my way.”


Karl Pilkington: The Moaning of Life 2 starts Tuesday 13th October on Sky1 at 9pm