From radio producer to radio star, Mancunian Karl Pilkington has become the cult comedy hero of the airwaves. Dubbed ‘the funniest man alive in Britain today’, by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, Karl began his career as a producer for radio station Xfm, where his weird and hilarious interjections on The Ricky Gervais Show brought him to the public’s attention.
He teamed up with the pair again on the Ricky Gervais Podcast Show, and has two best-selling books, The World of Karl Pilkington and Happy Slapped by a Jellyfish.
An avid Red, Karl is happy to chat in his inimitable style about his football passions, which might have worked out rather differently. “I’m from the Racecourse estate in Sale,” he explains. “Me mam bought me a City kit for Christmas, so I tried supporting them for a bit. But watching them put me off football for a few years.
"Me dad used to drive a black cab and I used to come with him and sit in the front on a crate. We'd get a few jobs at Old Trafford on matchnights and the atmosphere just felt special. I started to spend more time there when me mam got a job in Lou Macari’s chippy. That’s probably when I started supporting United.”
Karl’s first game was a home match with Everton. “I didn’t really watch the match,” he recalls. “I was more interested in an old fella singing all these funny abusive chants. He had his back to the game and just stood there singing his head off, as if he was a contestant on Stars in Their Eyes with Tourette’s."
Sadly, Karl seems to think of himself as something of a jinx. “United don’t seem to play well when I go. I watch or listen to every game, though. The last game I went to was Reading away, which ended 1-1. I enjoy watching on TV because I like to see Fergie celebrate when we score. It always cheers me up seeing him jump about.”
Karl was no doubt blaming himself as United were poised to lose the European Cup final in Barcelona in May 1999. “I’d moved to London by then, and watched it round at a mate’s flat. I’d almost come to terms with the fact that we’d lost. Then Ole and Teddy came on.”