Spin-off books are always a disappointment. This one, no exception to the rule, is the companion to a currently airing cult UK television series created by the comedians Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant and their stooge Karl Pilkington. Both book and series follow Pilkington, the idiot of the title, as he discovers the Seven Wonders of the world, from the pyramids to the Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China.
Pilkington's blithe unworldliness made him the star of Gervais's astonishingly successful podcast. Likewise it is his affronted ignorance which supplies the humour in these (presumably committee-written) travel diaries. "Saw more of the bloody Wall today," he says in China. "I don't have much more to say about it. Krish tried to sell it to me by saying it's impressive because it's so long, but so is the M6, and that's older than a lot of this Wall." The thing is, there are mildly amusing idiots abroad everywhere - just climb aboard the next Contiki bus. One can't help wondering whether the humour of Gervais/Merchant/Pilkington might be better suited to the small screen.