The Moaning of Life

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The Moaning of Life
Genre Comedy
Starring Karl Pilkington
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 1
No. of episodes 5 (list of episodes)
Running time 60mins (inc. adverts)
Original channel Sky1
Original release 20 October 2013 (2013-10-20) – present
External links

The Moaning of Life is a British travel documentary television series that is broadcast on Sky1. It follows Karl Pilkington around the world as he visits other cultures.[1] Unlike An Idiot Abroad, which had a similar premise, The Moaning of Life sees Pilkington actually choosing to visit other countries in order to see how they face up to some of life's biggest issues with their cultures and customs. He also reassesses his life now that he has reached the age of 40, which he considers to be "middle age".[1] The series has five one-hour episodes, and sees Pilkington visiting Ghana, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, the Philippines, South Africa, Taiwan, and the United States.[2] Its original broadcast run in the United Kingdom began on 20 October 2013.

Sky1 postponed the fifth and final episode – "Death", which sees Pilkington in the Philippines contemplating death with locals – after Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines in early November 2013.[3] Originally scheduled for 17 November 2013, it was not broadcast until 17 December 2013.

The series was released in the United Kingdom on DVD and Blu-ray on 18 November 2013.

Discovery Communications' Science began broadcasting The Moaning of Life in North America on 18 January 2014.[4][5] The series aired in Australia from February 17, 2015 on BBC Knowledge.[6]

A six-part second series has been commissioned and will air in the late 2015.[7]

Series overview[edit]

Series Episodes Originally aired DVD and Blu-ray release dates
Series premiere Series finale
1 5 20 October 2013 (2013-10-20) 17 December 2013 (2013-12-17) 18 November 2013 (2013-11-18)
2 6 Autumn 2015 TBD TBD


No. Title Original Air Date
(United Kingdom)
1 "Marriage" 20 October 2013 (2013-10-20)
Although Pilkington has been with his girlfriend Suzanne for 20 years, he has never felt a need to marry her. He travels abroad to witness how other cultures handle marriage and see if he is missing something. In India, he visits New Delhi, where he explores the concept of an arranged marriage. First he finds a prospective bride through a company that matches compatible couples for arranged marriages, then spends an evening with her and her parents, answering questions about his education, income, and house; to his amazement, the woman and her family decide that he can marry her in a few days, after another date or two. He then accompanies "wedding detectives" as they secretly collect information on a man being considered for an arranged marriage on behalf of the family of his potential bride; they discover that the man smokes, although he claimed to be a non-smoker, after which Pilkington focuses on eating lunch in the detective‍ '​s car when the detective gets out to follow the man on foot. In Bangalore, Pilkington assists wedding planners in arranging a wedding with 5,000 guests; he blames the wedding‍ '​s enormous size on the misuse of social media to tell too many people about it. He first is assigned to help get the groom ready, but becomes too distracted by the groom‍ '​s brother‍ '​s home theater system to be of much help. Next told to help shepherd people between events, he quickly becomes impatient and begins barking orders at them, and the wedding planners ask him to be more polite. He then must assist in arranging catering and looking after the needs of guests at the reception; stressed out by the size of the crowd, he retreats to the car park to kick around a football and ponder how the only two portable toilets he sees could accommodate 5,000 guests. He then visits the United States, where in Los Angeles, California, he looks into using science to find the right spouse by attending a "pheromone party" in which singles anonymously place their clothing in plastic bags, which members of the opposite sex sniff in order to select who they would like to meet based on their smell; Pilkington picks three women, alienates one by not remembering her smell or her clothing, but seems to hit it off with the other two. He decides that choosing a mate by scent makes sense, because animals do it, and he likens the pheromone party to dogs sniffing each other‍ '​s anuses when meeting for the first time. His last stop is Las Vegas, Nevada, where he is quite impressed by the concept of a drive-through wedding because of its speed and convenience; he asks a woman who officiates at a drive-through chapel if he could leave the car‍ '​s engine running during the ceremony, but she advises him that it would be better to turn it off. Asked to plan a ceremony for a couple who cannot afford to spend much on their wedding, he comes up with a unique concept for them based on what he has learned and which he believes provides a cheap and scientific alternative to the huge Indian wedding: with Pilkington as their only guest, they follow his plan by marrying in a Las Vegas laundromat, first sniffing a basket of each other‍ '​s dirty laundry as a final check of their compatibility, then washing their laundry together to symbolise their union before taking their vows. Pilkington views the event as such a success that he says laundromats should consider diversifying their business to include weddings so that fewer laundromats go out of business.[5]
2 "Happiness" 27 October 2013 (2013-10-27)
Never having thought about happiness and unsure that anyone should, Pilkington nonetheless goes abroad to discover how people in other cultures find happiness. In Mexico, he runs with a tribe that finds happiness in ultra-marathons and meets a group of people in Guadalajara who find happiness in experiencing pain. He then moves on to the United States to visit the Los Angeles area, where he joins a group of "hip hop clowns" who dance in the streets of Compton, California, wearing clown costumes to achieve and spread happiness. He meets Justin Jedlica, who finds happiness in his appearance and is addicted to plastic surgery; Pilkington agrees to undergo an expensive plastic surgery treatment himself that makes him happy because the attractive woman performing the procedure has told him he is good-looking. Lastly, he travels to Billings, Montana, to spend a day with Daniel Suelo, who gave up his worldly possessions 13 years earlier to get away from the "rat race" and find happiness in a homeless lifestyle. While impressed and excited by Suelo's ability to scrounge fresh food and brand-new clothing from dumpsters, he balks at camping with the man in the rain. Pilkington gladly returns to his luxurious hotel room, having learned that – at least for him – physical comfort is the key to happiness.[5]
3 "Kids" 3 November 2013 (2013-11-03)
Childless and uninterested in starting a family but hearing from his friends that he should, Pilkington sets out to learn why people have children. In Japan, he happens past a Tokyo restaurant where he finds a live turtle awaiting its fate as someone‍ '​s meal; to save it, he takes it in and keeps it in his hotel room‍ '​s bathtub, pondering the responsibility of caring for the creature before releasing it in a river under a bridge. He attends a traditional fertility festival in which huge phalluses predominate, encounters a mascot dressed as a phallus, and assists other men in carrying a large phallus on a sedan chair, opining that the testicles really deserve more credit for fertility than the penis and convincing a woman that she should not be so sure that she wants to have children. He also goes to a doctor to have his sperm tested, and is informed that he is quite capable of fathering children. He then travels to Indonesia, where he visits Bali to help at a natural birthing center and is awed by witnessing a birth; he also babysits an infant girl for a young couple, becoming frustrated when he cannot stop her from crying. His next stop in Indonesia is Sulawesi, where he spends time with the Bajau people, "sea gypsies" who spend very little time supervising their children and allow them to go out to sea to fish by themselves; Pilkington joins some of the children on a fishing expedition, and displays little concern for their safety and welfare during the trip even when they submerge and disappear for long periods. Finally, he visits the United States, where he hires two adult dwarf actors to pretend to be five- or six-year-old children while spending a day and night with a young couple in the Los Angeles area who are considering having children; the experience makes the couple decide to put off starting a family.[5]
4 "Vocation & Money" 10 November 2013 (2013-11-10)
Pilkington has never felt that he had a true vocation, and has moved from job to job without following any particular plan. He says that he thinks it would be terrible to be one of the best people in the world at something, because it would mean that you are so indispensible that you could never quit even if you became bored with doing it; he thinks it is better not to aim high, and instead to merely do something useful. Nonetheless, Pilkington travels overseas to explore how people find their vocations. In Tokyo, Japan, he spends time with an 85-year-old inventor who shows him his various inventions, has him sit with his head under a "Cerebrex" hood to stimulate his memory, and attempts – without success – to teach Pilkington how to be a genius by sleeping and eating less, having a brain-friendly diet, keeping busy, and holding one's breath underwater for as long as possible to stimulate the brain to come up with good ideas. Pilkington then tries out the career of a traditional Japanese odd-job man. His first assignment, to rescue a cat from a roof, is cancelled, so instead he assists in cleaning a woman‍ '​s house. He then reports for duty as a nude model for students in a drawing class. He balks at posing nude, but does pose wearing jeans and shoes but no shirt; he is pleased at how good he looks in the drawings, but disappointed that the male students have drawn him to look better than the female students have. He flies to Johannesburg, South Africa, to meet Kenny Kunene, who was born in the slums but has become a self-made millionaire. After passing through extensive security checks at Kunene‍ '​s home, he hangs out by the swimming pool with Kunene and several beautiful young women in bikinis. Kunene shows him his collection of expensive liquor and luxury automobiles, takes Pilkington on a drive in a new sports car, scares Pilkington by driving it at very high speeds, and gives Pilkington a aerial tour by helicopter of the slums. Pilkington is not sure he approves of Kunene‍ '​s lifestyle, so Kunene has him fly to Cape Town to stay in a luxury hotel room with his own butler, chef, masseuse, and private rooftop swimming pool, and to meet a sales representative to look at very expensive watches. Pilkington decides that his favorite thing is the view, and that nature – which is free – is better than the expensive hotel amenities. Pilkington meets Kunene‍ '​s business associate, Gayton McKenzie, who shows him how Kunene and McKenzie got started in business by "hustling," purchasing fresh fish at a fish market and selling it on the streets of the slums at a profit. Pilkington fails completely as a fish salesman and finally is reduced to giving the fish away. McKenzie credits him for trying, but Pilkington says that trying was not worth it because he actually has lost money. That night, Kunene and McKenzie take Pilkington clubbing in Cape Town and encourage him to eat sushi off of a beautiful young woman in a bikini lying on a table; Pilkington objects, and instead strikes up a conversation with the woman about her pay, benefits, and work conditions, and he concludes that jobs like hers exist because all of the normal jobs are already taken. His final stop is the United States, where he visits the Los Angeles area to see what it is like to be a catwalk model in a Hollywood fashion show. After an awkward performance in practice, he makes a good impression in the actual show, and he learns that his success at modeling means that it is good to give anything a try, because you don't know what you will be good at. At the party following the show, he lies down on a table wearing only shorts so that guests can eat sushi off of him.[5]
5 "Death" 17 December 2013 (2013-12-17)
Pilkington has never even attended a funeral, let alone given much thought to death – although he complains that dead people take up too much land and always get all the nice, quiet areas, while the living have to live in crowded, noisy places – so he sets out to see how other cultures handle death in the hope that it can help him prepare for the end of life. Finding the theme of British funerals depressing, he makes his first stop in Accra, Ghana, to look for more festive funeral customs. He shops for a "crazy coffin" – a coffin custom-made in any shape the buyer wants – and discusses crazy coffins with a man shopping for a coffin for his father (shaped like a Lada automobile because he was an automobile mechanic) and who says that people often choose a coffin based on the deceased‍ '​s profession (he plans on a pen-shaped coffin for himself because he is a teacher). Pilkington gives an open Twix wrapper that had contained two Twix bars to the coffin-maker and orders a Twix-shaped coffin that can accommodate two people for himself and his girlfriend Suzanne. He next helps a mortician prepare the body of a 79-year-old woman named Madam Comfort Asaaba Cofie, who had died a month earlier, for her funeral. He applies make-up to her and helps to twist her body to overcome rigor mortis so that they can sit her up during her wake so that she appears to be selling things from a market stall, as she did in life. Upset with the process at first, he attends the wake and is pleased with the results. The next day, he dances and plays a noisemaker as part of a performing group that marches in a carnival-like atmosphere as her funeral parade makes its way through the town to the cemetery, where he attends a funeral for the first time in his life. He finds that he has enjoyed the day and thinks that Comfort had a good send-off. Unable to cry when sad, he flies to Taipei, Taiwan, where a professional mourner, who can be hired to cry at memorial services, teaches him how to cry and deal with grief. She has him learn to sob while talking about the deceased; advises him that it is unacceptable to follow his normal practice of swearing rather than crying when upset; and teaches him to stagger and crawl while grieving. He pretends to be mourning Suzanne‍ '​s death, but suddenly interrupts his moving performance when he thinks he has put his hand in dog feces. His lesson complete, he attends a memorial service with the mourner to see her at work; her act bewilders him, as does his discovery that the family has hired a pole dancer to perform outside to attract more people to the service. He next goes to the Philippines, where he visits Manila‍ '​s biggest cemetery, a place where people live and work among the dead in what amounts to a small town. He inspects their accommodations, which he finds reasonable. Demand for space in the cemetery requires the removal of bodies, and he assists in the exhumation of the body of woman who had been buried there for five years, and is amazed to see she was buried wearing a brassiere. His next stop is Sagada, a community in the mountains north of Manila where people bury their dead in exposed coffins hung on the side of a cliff so that dogs cannot open the coffins and consume the bodies. He likes the concept of cliff burials because it does not waste land on the dead, but finds it to be hard work as he assists in carrying a coffin to the burial cliff and hoisting it up to its position. He ends his exploration of death back in England, where at his home in Swanley he has taken delivery of the two-person, Twix-wrapper-shaped crazy coffin he ordered in Ghana. He must keep it in a storage unit because Suzanne does not want it in their house, but he thinks that a two-person Twix coffin will fascinate future archaeologists. He then drives to Hastings to demonstrate his idea for a useful memorial for the dead along the boardwalk at the beach there. Inspired by benches dedicated to the memory of the deceased, which provide people with a place to sit, he notes that there are never enough litter bins at the beach and points out a memorial litter bin he has purchased in memory of Comfort, complete with a memorial plaque for her. He thinks the idea of memorial litter bins will catch on, and, after eating an ice cream bar, discards the wrapper in Comfort‍ '​s memorial bin.[5]

North American broadcasts[edit]

In North America, Science premiered the episodes in a different order, as follows:[5][8]

  • Episode 2 ("Happiness"), 18 January 2014, 10:00 p.m. EST
  • Episode 3 ("Kids"), 18 January 2014, 11:00 p.m. EST
  • Episode 1 ("Marriage"), 25 January 2014, 10:00 p.m. EST
  • Episode 4 ("Vocation & Money"), 6 February 2014, 7:00 p.m. EST
  • Episode 5 ("Death"), 6 February 2014, 8:00 p.m. EST

"Vocation & Money" and "Death" originally were scheduled to air at 10:00 p.m. EST on 1 February and 8 February 2014, respectively, but both were rescheduled to 6 February 2014.[5][8]

At about three-quarters of the way through each North American broadcast, Science aired a brief "never-before-seen clip" from The Moaning of Life featuring Pilkington commenting on an issue during filming of the episode.


A book titled The Moaning of Life: The Wordly Wisdom of Karl Pilkington was released on 10 October 2013.

Despite the final episode having not yet aired in the United Kingdom due to its postponement, the entire series was released on DVD and Blu-ray on 18 November 2013.

The series was available on An advertisement featuring Pilkington complaining about was released on YouTube to promote the series.


  1. ^ a b "About The Show". Sky. Retrieved 14 November 2013. 
  2. ^ "There will be five hour-long episodes of the #moaningoflife on Sky1HD from October.". Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  3. ^ "Karl Pilkington's Moaning of Life postponed following Philippines tornado tragedy.". Retrieved 13 November 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h "Karl Pilkington's Travel Show 'The Moaning Of Life' Will Air On Science Channel In January". CINEMABLEND. Retrieved 25 December 2014. 
  6. ^ "February: 150+ new and returning shows, movies and sport events". Foxtel. 6 February 2015. Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  7. ^ "Karl Pilkington: The Moaning of Life Series 2". Sky Media. Retrieved 25 December 2014. 
  8. ^ a b "The Moaning Of Life". Science Channel. Retrieved 25 December 2014. 

External links[edit]