Boorman sneaks into Coventry
By Blast arts reporter Rala Kawas
Actor Charley Boorman's new documentary has just aired, and here at BBC Coventry & Warwickshire, we were all excited to learn that he quietly spent a night in the 'spooky' Coventry Transport Museum.
Actor Charley Boorman has, in recent years turned his attention to travelling around the world, unconventionally on a bike with another actor, Ewan McGregor.
Together they put together two series, one called Long Way Round, which took them from London to New York through Europe and Asia in 2003, and the other, Long Way Down, which saw them drive their bikes from Scotland to South Africa.
Now, Boorman has put together a new documentary, called By Any Means, which showcases his journey from Ireland to Sydney, Australia using any means of transport, except air travel, to get him there.
The first episode aired on BBC 2 on Sunday, 7 September. What, however, most of the residents of Coventry don't know is, that during the filming of this documentary, which was a few months ago, Boorman, his producer and their camera-man, spent a night in the Coventry Transport Museum. They literally slept in the museum.
Charley's bike display at the museum.
Boorman and his small team decided to go to the Transport Museum in Coventry to visit the motorbike that he used when he travelled with Ewan McGregor in Long Way Round. A while after the show aired, Charley's bike was brought into the museum for display there as part of the exhibition.
I went down to the Transport Museum to investigate for myself, and indeed, there it was, in all its glory, the motorbike that was used to get Boorman from London to New York.
However, what is more interesting about the museum and about Charley's night there is the ghostly rumours that have been hovering around the Coventry Transport Museum. Several stories of weird happenings and spooky sightings have been reported since the museum was opened.
With Ewan McGregor and the famous bike.
Julia Gandy and Damien Kimberley from the Coventry Transport Museum, offered me some stories, one of which happened to Damien himself. He explained that after re-arranging the motorbike display room, he filmed around the room to show others what it would look like. When he played it back though, he and his co-workers, heard a voice on the video, which appears to be telling him to "get out."
Another rumour claims, that the bicycle display room in the museum is haunted, and this is the story that Boorman and his group decided to test, by staying in that very hall during their expedition.
In the first episode of the documentary, curator of the museum, Steve, explains the story. Damien and Julia also explained it to me.
A few years ago, one of the Museum assistants said she saw an old, bald man with a beard, wearing tweeds, on one of the bicycles. The problem was that that same man’s obituary in a very old cycling magazine, with a photo that matched the description the assistant gave.
It turned out to be the description of the man that donated the bikes, Sam Bartley. Apparently he had died on one of the bikes.
Proud of Coventry
Despite all the spooky talk, Boorman stayed the night, reinforcing Coventry's good and hospitable reputation.
And in true Coventry style, Boorman and the team were escorted out of Coventry by none other than the famous car that Queen Anne rode around in.
Coventry and the Coventry Transport Museum deserve some recognition for being wonderful hosts to a big star and a big show. The section of the programme when they are in Coventry, only accentuates Coventry's dedication to preserving and showcasing precious and priceless items.
It must also be mentioned that it was pride inducing seeing Coventry and the museum appear on national television in a very real atmosphere.
You can watch Charlie Boorman: Ireland to Sydney by Any Means again on the BBC iPlayer.
last updated: 16/09/2008 at 09:53