Charley Boorman: By Any Means

Posted Monday, September 29, 2008, 11:25 AM


I accidentally stumbled upon a cool TV series on DVD a few years ago, which at that point rapidly turned into my favourite documentary ever, called Long Way Round. Ewan McGregor and his friend Charley Boorman got on a couple of motorbikes and travelled around the world, pretty much on a straight line through Europe and Asia and America, from London to New York. It was loads of fun, with tons of adventure, and a great voyage of discovery for them both.

Since then they have done another, Long Way Down, which wended its way through Africa. Unfortunately, it didn't quite have the same magic the second time, and was also marred by being over-organised, but it was still great TV.

Charley Boorman has also done something on his own, when he took part in the most dangerous race in the world, the Dakar Rally, in a show called Race To Dakar. I enjoyed that too, but it was very much more oriented towards motorbike racing, so that didn't quite draw me in as much as it might someone who's a fan.

But now his latest solo adventure, By Any Means, is something I've been really enjoying a lot. He and his Producer friend Russ Malkin, who has been part of all the previous series, are taking a trip from Ireland to Sydney, via Asia, using only land transport like cars, bikes, buses, boats, etc, to get there. So far there's been four episodes and it's been fantastic. Always upbeat, interesting, and fun, as well as being seat-of-their-pants racing from place to place, in sometimes very precarious transport.

Michael Palin's journeys, which are similar in vein, are now too structured and colonial to have the visceral appeal it had when he began the Around The World In 80 Days trip he made. Charley (and Ewan) are now taking up that mantle instead, and they're following through admirably, with just the right balance of fun and adventure.

I totally recommend it, I'm sure it will be on DVD soon, and I can't praise Charley enough for managing to front the programme with such ease, competence, and charismatic aplomb. This new found career he has stumbled on of hosting travel and adventure shows is perfect for him, and I hope he continues.

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