Boorman never a bore

Charley Boorman
Charley Boorman
Have your say

BIKE mad Charley Boorman has kayaked with killer whales and ridden rodeo bulls but he sounds a little daunted about heading to Barnsley.

“It could be the most dangerous place I’ve been to, you just never know,” he jokes ahead of his Speaking Tour reaching The Civic on November 16.

Charley Boorman

Charley Boorman

“Actually, someone once asked what’s the most dangerous place I’d ever been to and I said some parts of London. But whenever I go on these travels, to Papua New Guinea or Africa for example, and people say ‘Dodgy place’ I ask ‘Really, have you been?’ And it’s usually ‘No’.

“One of the other things I never do is go on to the government website. They say everywhere is terrible because they don’t want to be sued.”

Of course, Charley has passport stamps from places far more exotic than South Yorkshire courtesy of hit TV series such as Long Way Round, Race To Dakar and By Any Means.

His latest venture, crossing Canada, the world’s second largest country, by motorbike screens soon as Extreme Frontiers.

Charley, who this year also won Channel 4’s Fearless & Famous show, will be discussing that and other ventures, including escapades with film star Ewan McGregor during a show in which he is grilled by a pal and the audience.

“I suppose it’s an ‘evening with’ kind of thing and anything anybody wants to hear I’m happy to talk about. Remember Parkinson? You sit on the sofa and chat about life,” says Charley, who first came to the attention of the masses starring as a child in The Emerald Forest.

“I had such a bizarre upbringing. My father John directed films like that, Deliverance and Excalibur and Hope & Glory, some classics. As kids we were kind of dragged along to all these countries and stuck in movies as cheap labour.

“If there was a kid needed dad was ‘We’ll use one of mine, then we won’t have to pay them’. We always used to travel with my dad so I suppose I’ve got a little bit of that legacy and the appetite.

“But when I started doing my own acting I looked for the odd locations more than the script, which was probably my downfall. You think ‘great location’, sit on the plane, read the script and think ‘oh no’.”

Furthur inspiration to live life to the full came out of tragedy, when Charley’s sister died from ovarian cancer aged just 36.

“It came into my mind again with the guy from Apple, Steve Jobs. He died really early. You can’t imagine what else he could have given to the world.

“I’d always travelled and knew Ewan – we’d done all sorts of stuff to do with motorbikes – and we started talking about doing a big bike trip. Somewhere around that stage my sister died and I remember thinking, I’m going to do it.

“You can’t sit there, if you manage to get to an old age, and think ‘What if I’d done that?’

“We’re here for such a short time we’ve got to get out and if we want to go and do it, do it.”

And Charley is keen for his audience to be inspired by his adventures.

“At the end of the day we got lucky. When Long Way Round came out people wanted to see a bit more than what was on telly.

“A lot is to do with timing.

“It’s good fun when we do these talks. You’d think there would be a lot of bikers come along, but they’re maybe a third and rest are 10-year-olds up to 80 and from all different walks of life. We tried to make our series as universal as possible.

“Everybody needs at some stage in their lives to go out and do a road trip, not necessarily do what Ewan and I did, you can just go down to Dijon in France and back.

“It’s about getting someone to do it once. And if you get them out there once then they’ll do it again and again.

“The tour show has a bit of humour, a bit of seriousness and travel tips, good stories, a real mix and I hope people will walk away and book up their next adventure holiday.”

* Charley’s new series, Extreme Frontiers Canada, airs early in December on Channel 5. Check TV listings. The website is