Karl Pilkington on hit sitcom Sick Of It
BALANCE: In Sick Of It the lead character interacts with the voice inside his head. What inspired this superb idea?
Most telly is about relationships and loads of different people as if we all have lots of friends. But that isn’t always the case. A lot of people have to work stuff out on their own: “Is this the right thing? Am I gonna p*ss people off?” People can relate to that. Fundamentally, you’ve got to do what you want to do – I could have quite easily kept on doing radio, travel or podcasts. There comes a point, though, when you’re done with something. You’ve got to know when to say, “Enough is enough.”
BALANCE: And it’s all about the comfort zone?
It works because of what was going on in my head on those journeys – I wasn’t comfortable. You get used to it. There must have been a point where Bear Grylls [on his own travels] went: “I don’t know about drinking my own p*ss…” Now he loves it!
BALANCE: What has been the biggest challenge for you?
Getting new people to give Sick Of It a go has been difficult. I can’t bullsh*t or sell it as something that it’s not. People don’t give things much of a chance these days. If they don’t like a programme in the first five minutes, they go off and do something else, because there are so many other things they could be doing.
BALANCE: How did you feel when you were asked to do the second series?
At the end of series one, I remember thinking, “That was hard. I don’t want to do any more.” I always do that. I get ready for people to slag it off and think, “I’m not good enough. I shouldn’t be doing it.” And then time passed and I looked at it and went, “There’s not much I’d change.” We were still editing the first series when the fella from Sky came in and asked, “What about a second series?” I was like, “But we don’t know if anyone likes it.” Basically, we got the go-ahead for the second series and I don’t think there needs to be another one after that. Sometimes it’s nice to say, “That’s enough.” I kind of like the way it ends this time.
BALANCE: Are you enjoying having a successful career?
Actually, a part of me sometimes wants a bit of a slagging… something to have an argument about, so I can fight my corner and know that what I’m trying to do is right. I don’t do much on social media, but I do have a Facebook page. I’ll sit on the toilet and have a quick read. People can slag off something I’ve done as long as I read it and go, “They’ve got a point there.” Some people say, “I love everything you do.” You can’t!
BALANCE: Would you get back together with Ricky and Stephen?
I just wonder if things have changed. One of the things people liked was that they were on the up; they’d just done The Office. And there was me playing the adverts. People liked that dynamic. I’m not sure we could go back to it – I’ve grown up. People would feel, “It’s good to know they’re not dead, but it’s ruined what I liked about it.” I don’t think everything can come back. You watch Top Of The Pops on BBC Four and go, “It’s 1988!” And then you go, “What a sh*t year for music that was!” But at the time it was good.
Sick Of It is on Sky One. We chatted with Karl for the BALANCE podcast – available everywhere you get podcasts (and this episode is comedy gold)