The purpose of these recommendations is to spread the word of the more unknown, yet completely entertaining podcasts available online. So this article may seem like it is going in a completely different direction, considering that The Ricky Gervais Show is the most famous podcast of all time and that these aren’t technically podcasts but I actual plan on highlighting some of the shows that aren’t generally known as well as the actual podcasts. As for the not technically being podcasts thing, well I’m sorry but I can’t do anything about that.
Most people would cite The Office as the beginning of Ricky Gervais’ and Stephen Merchants’ respective careers but if you look a little further you will soon discover that is not the case. Before even stepping foot in the BBC, Ricky Gervais worked for a London based indie radio station in the 1990s. As the head of speech at the station Ricky had a lot of work on his plate and this is not an ideal situation when you are considerably lazy so he decided to hire an assistant. Stephen Merchant was lucky enough to be the first resume to come to Ricky’s attention and was offered the job if he agreed to do the majority of the work. The two held up the ship, in both senses of the phrase and even had their own show on XFM before both were made redundant in 1998. Cut to 2001 and The Office is gaining a lot of attention, XFM came crawling back offering Ricky and Steve their old show back. With the station at their mercy, the two agree under the condition that they are given a producer this time around. Enter Karl Pilkington. These XFM shows are the origin stories of the RSK relationship. Ricky and Steve return to the station planning to reinvigorate their old show before they quickly realise that Karl’s real talent as producer is producing comedy gold without even realising.
To the annoyance of RSK themselves, the XFM shows are considered the golden years of RSK’s entertainment relationship online. A multitude of hilarious anecdotes are shared by Karl on the show and stories like the horse in the house, Forrest Gump in a wheelie bin and anything to do with Aunty Nora go down as classics. Aside from the anecdotes, the typical radio segments are typically very funny and also typically not your typical radio segments. “Educating Ricky” ironically does not do what it says on the tin but Karl shares three pun-titled stories that are either bollocks or utterly ridiculous, either way they will always entertain. The musical feature is “Songs Of Phrase” in which Karl cuts together songs to reveal a phrase uttered on the show. These phrases are very evocative of the show itself, i.e. “There’s this hairy Chinese kid.”, “And you never see an old man eat a Mars Bar-bar-bar.” and “Tell me why, tell me why, tell me why don’t they play the game of swingball?”. “Monkey news” originated on this show with its somewhat bastardised cousin, “Knob News”, Karl pops up in a film every now and then, but the most famous segment would have to be Rockbusters. Puns feature heavily again when Karl attempts to give a cryptic (or craptic as Steve would put it) clue for the audience to guess the musical artists. It’s not just all about Karl though, Ricky and Steve provide some unbelievable banter and you can spot the inspirations and seedling of ideas featured in their later work in these shows.
Over the years I would say I have probably listened to the ninety-two episodes around five times each and every time these episodes are as funny as the first. It’s all down to Karl being in control of the ship really. Ricky and Steve break every single rule in radio, proving that there shouldn’t be restrictions on entertainment but the little orange-headed manc twat is still the star of the show. A lot of credit should also go to the person that recorded all of these shows way back in 2001 and has shared them with the world. Unfortuantely they are no longer available to download as mp3 files, hence the link to a Youtube page but if you are interested there are a few Best Ofs available to buy on iTunes. Another derserving mention is the website Pilkipedia. This is one of the best amateur wikis around and covers each episode and everything RSK in huge detail. There is also a great community of fans on there who, if a bit negative will make sure they discuss and share every moment of RSK entertainment. More than ten years on and the XFM Ricky Gervais Show is as hilarious and as entertaining as ever so stop moaning about life and have a little listen to everyone’s favourite village idiot and his friends who created one of the greatest sitcoms of all time or somat like that.
There is not much to say about these shows since there has only been a few episodes but they are worth a mention. During the Edinburgh festival in 2002, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost did a few shows for XFM and there are no prizes for guessing who their producer was. Simon and Nick are more than capable of doing a show on their own and they don’t lean on Karl quite as heavily as Ricky and Steve but there are a few conversations about ghosts and weird stuff. Really it’s quite a shame that these two never got a show of their own because Karl aside, this is a hilarious little run of shows and I hope they get to drink that tea one day.
Before Russell Brand brough his friends into the studio, Karl The K-Man Pilkers stepped up to the plate. With Russell, Karl is much more relaxed and the two seem to get on quite well. Fortunately for Karl but maybe not so fortunately for the audience, Russell doesn’t ridicule Karl as much and there is more respect in these few shows than the entire RSK run.
There was also The Steve Show on BBC 6 Music in which Steve proved he was actually a professional DJ but unfortunately that has seemed to disappear from the internet so sorry for bringing it up but it just deserved a mention. Also I didn’t make the artwork for Russell Brand, so don’t go off at me for the spelling error and Steve’s head being cut off in the above image is actually a very funny reference that you will understand if you listen to the XFM shows.