INTERVIEW: Motorbike adventurer Charley Boorman on broken hands, hecklers and Long Way Round

AN ACTOR, adventurer and author who has been travelling the world on his motorbike stops off in Stevenage at the end of the month.

Charley Boorman, who, alongside film star Ewan McGregor, has appeared in TV documentaries such as Long Way Round and Long Way Down, will be visiting the Gordon Craig Theatre for a live show.

The 45-year-old will be speaking about a childhood spent appearing in his films directed by his father John Boorman, meeting Ewan McGregor on the set of The Serpent’s Kiss and the subsequent adventures they have embarked on around the world.

The Comet caught up with the motorbike enthusiast to get a taste for what audiences to the show can expect and how he forged a career for himself as an adventurer.

Having first appeared on TV screens in 2004 with Long Way Round - biking overland from London to New York via Europe and Asia - it turns out the idea itself was long in the making.

“We were always saying wouldn’t it be great to do that but for some reason it just stuck and we kept coming back to it,” said Charley.

“Eventually, in about 2003, we said ‘let’s just do it’. Then I realised that I couldn’t do it just because I didn’t have the money. Someone had mentioned that it would make a great book - that gave us the money and then we thought we might as well film it as well!”

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After the success of the first travel documentary, Charley has gone on to film and write about experiences of riding from John O’Groats in Scotland to Cape Town in South Africa (Long Way Down) and a solo journey from Ireland to Australia (By Any Means), but it is taking part in the Dakar Rally in 2006 (Race to Dakar) that most sticks out in his mind.

“Dakar is the most brutal one I’ve done in my life,” he said.

“Before you go to places people say ‘it’s dangerous’ and it’s not at all. You ask them ‘have you been’ and they say ‘no’. But the difference is what people tell you about the Dakar Rally is all true, and they actually dumb it down a bit. Out of 250 riders maybe about 60 finish.

“I was sitting in hospital with two broken hands feeling very sorry for myself. But I looked around and there’s people with so many broken bones, and there was four of them all the same. It’s brutal.”

So why do it?

“I love it and it ticks a lot of boxes for me. I come from a media background and we get to do the production, we make it all so it’s not just the adventure. The adventure is the pay off after all that hard work, but I love all of it.”

Charley will be elaborating on some of his adventures as part of his speaking tour, which also airs clips of his travels - some which have never been made public - on big video screens.

The final part of the night is concluded with a question and answer session but Charley has no concerns about being harangued.

“We get the odd person that rants at me and I just sit there and normally someone in the audience will tell them to shut up! People are coming to see the show, they want to be there and contribute.”

Charley Boorman’s Speaking Tour comes to the theatre in Lytton Way on Monday, October 31, and kicks off at 7.45pm.

Tickets are �17.50 - to book call 01438 894802 or visit www.gordon-craig.co.uk

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