The first episode of An Idiot Abroad’s third series saw Karl gain a travelling partner in the form of Hollywood star Warwick Davis. But as you’d expect, Karl was far from pleased about his new companion.
As the two men met before their odyssey began, Gervais likened the pair to Dick Whittington and his cat. Then Pilkington said Warwick was “like a little limpet, hanging on, dragging you back” and we we’re left a little unsure as to whether we are supposed to giggle or cringe. It seemed Pilkington – the round-headed man who wants nothing more than a simple life – was mainly worried that he’d have to carry Warwick’s bags.
But, in spite of a chilly start, it turns out that sunny Warwick and grouchy Pilkington actually make a magnificent duo.
As the pair set off in Marco Polo’s footsteps, Warwick’s easy going attitude became another hilarious gripe for Pilkington, and before long he set about plotting ways to ruin Warwick’s fun.
First stop on their whistle-stop tour was Venice. Karl’s alternative guide to some of the world’s most beautiful places takes some getting used to – but it’s certainly a refreshing change from travel telly clichés. In Karl’s deadened eyes, the watery tourist trap was “a hassle… a town made for mermaids, d’you know what I mean?”. Venice is more suited to the days when humans were “fish”…
Entering the bustling St Mark’s Square, Karl assumed the reason everyone was milling about was because there’d been a fire alarm. And as Warwick trotted off to get ice-cream and buy postcards, Pilkington fumed into the camera: “He’s treating it like a holiday… We can’t keep wondering about taking pictures and that.”
Next up they went shopping for costumes and a disgruntled Karl perked up for the first time when he found a tiny hat for Warwick. In Karl’s own words their Venetian masquerade party was “like a horrible Come Dine With Me.” The evening’s entertainment – a strange curtained area ominously named ‘the pleasure machine’ – certainly made for uncomfortable viewing, but the visual discomfort on Karl’s face as he “gets fondled and all that lot” was worth it.
Next morning and Karl was feeling proactive. “The problem with Venice is that it’s stuck in its ways,” he said. So he decided to try a water jet pack. But he thought it’d be easier and he had to wear a polo neck-style wetsuit so after a bit of flailing around in the water – “I saw my life flash before my eyes” – he decided to give up.
Next stop, Macedonia and a night with the Romany gypsies. For once, caravan holiday fan Karl was in his element while Warwick found himself out of his comfort zone. Karl got in the spirit of things and did a little dance while the gypsies slyly touched Warwick for luck. Karl insightfully mused on the likelihood of Warwick being lucky: “I think it’s a load of old bollocks because I’ve been with him for a while and he’s pissing me right off.”
The following morning, though, Karl seemed to be warming to his travelling companion. First he admitted that “when it comes to sleeping in little holes and crevices, he’s ideal…” before they embarked on a wonderful scene where Karl cycled along with Warwick in his bicycle basket.
They were heading to the top of a hill where omnipresent Gervais had organised for Karl to be attached to helium balloons – cue him failing to take off before falling into a pile of nettles. It was Warwick’s turn next and he was much more successful, though not best pleased, while Karl looked on in glee before saying, “I’ve never had a kite.”
But this new found fondness didn’t last long and, as Gervais called to check up on them, Karl soon declared: “honestly, if you offered me a cat now I’d swap…”
Throughout the entire trip demonic Gervais takes pleasure in adding fuel to Pilkington’s angry fire – Warwick’s hotel rooms are grand and spacious while Karl’s are pokey and uncomfortable – and he and his trademark chortle pop up on the phone every now and again to revel in his creation.
The charm of series one and two is slightly tarnished – part of the joy was watching Pilkington squirm as he faced ridiculous challenges on his own with only a camera for company – and you can’t help but feel that Sky1 are paying an awful lot of money for one friend to prank another, but there’s no denying Karl and Warwick’s escapades do make for pretty entertaining telly.
Next week the mismatched duo act in a real Bollywood film, meet conjoined twins, have a late night encounter with drunken holy men and try and let go with a spot of laughing yoga. (It’s a good one. You should probably watch it.)