About the show

Everyone’s favourite reluctant traveller

Will he find the seven wonders awe-inspiring or just awful?

Following the success of a series of world record-breaking podcasts from The Ricky Gervais Show, the unfortunate Karl Pilkington has landed his own travel TV series.

Comedians (and creators of The Office and Extras) Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant are outraged that Karl has written off the Wonders of the World, having never seen any of them with his own eyes. So they've thrown down the gauntlet to send Karl around the globe to force him out of his comfort zone.

Stephen wants the experience to broaden Karl’s mind and change his outlook on the world. Ricky wants Karl to hate every minute of it for his own amusement.

Dispatched on what many would term a journey of a lifetime, the Little Englander will be putting his misgivings to one side as he finds out for himself what the fuss is about.

Meanwhile Gervais and Merchant will be keeping a watchful eye from London, monitoring every step of his journey.


The Great Wall of China, actually a series of many walls, has an impressive 2,000-year construction history, with work starting as early as the 7th Century BC. It’s the longest man-made structure ever made and stretches a staggering 8,852km (5,500 miles). Despite popular myth though, it’s not visible from the moon.

The Taj Mahal is an elaborate mausoleum commissioned by Mughul emperor Shah Jahan, distraught by the passing of his third wife Mumtaz Mahal. It appears to be different colours at different times of the day. Some believe that these changing colours depict the changing moods of a woman.

Petra is an ancient city thought to have been built around 312 BC as the capital city of the Nabataeans. The entrance to the city is through a narrow gorge, flanked on either side by cliffs 76m (250ft) high.

Chichen Itza is the largest known city of the Mayan civilization and is located in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. The pyramid El Castillo is the main attraction and archaeologists believe it also served as a calendar for the Mayas. In total it has 365 steps – one for each day of the year.

The Great Pyramid of Giza is technically not a new wonder – it is the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and the only one to remain largely intact. It dates back to 2575-2566 BC and was constructed using over 2.3 million limestone blocks, weighing an average of 2.5 to 15 tonnes each.

The Christ the Redeemer statue stands at the top of the Corcovado mountain, overlooking the city of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. It stands 30m (98ft) tall, not including its 8-metre (26ft) pedestal, and its arms stretch 28m (92ft) wide. It’s the largest art deco statue in the world.

Machu Picchu is a 15th-Century Inca site located 2,430m (7,970ft) above sea level in the Cusco Region of Peru. It is often referred to as the Lost City of the Incas because it was known only to locals until it was discovered by American historian, Hiram Bingham, in 1911.


An Idiot Abroad

Karl Pilkington

Karl Pilkington is a Manchester-born radio producer, author, presenter, actor and general round-headed buffoon.

Karl left school at 15 without his exam results (Ricky Gervais later revealed live on radio that he got an E for history, although Karl can’t actually recall taking the exam) and went through several jobs. One such role was a printer, working 24-hour shifts pressing CDs. He partly attributes his baldness to this gruelling schedule.

Eventually he found gainful employment as a producer at the radio station XFM. It was there that he first crossed paths with Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, a writer-producer team who was causing waves with their groundbreaking mockumentary sitcom, The Office.

Working as producer of The Ricky Gervais show, at first he merely "pressed the buttons", but his quirky antics and unique world view soon prompted Ricky and Stephen to integrate him into the show and make him a third member of their team.

Karl’s cult hero status quickly elevated and he went on to co-present several BBC 6 Music shows with Russell Brand, host travel documentary An Idiot Abroad and make his acting debut in the Ricky Gervais comedy-drama, Derek. Karl has also written three books.

After a decade as a radio producer, Karl left XFM, taking with him a digital camera, which was his leaving gift and is now his girlfriend’s after he gave it to her for a Christmas present.

Get it on...

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