Ewan McGregor gets back on his bike – this time for BBC Two
Three years after Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman circumnavigated the globe on their motorcycles in Long Way Round, the long time friends are ready to get on their bikes again – in Long Way Down, a new six-part documentary series, this time for BBC Two.
In Long Way Down, their love for adventure and undeniable magnetism will make Ewan and Charley the perfect guides for what is arguably the toughest of all overland motorcycle journeys, starting at John O'Groats and journeying 15,000 miles south through the gruelling terrain of the African continent to their final destination – South Africa.
Ewan McGregor said: "Long Way Round changed us all – it bonded us together and made our dreams come true – and it's not often something like that happens. So to be given another opportunity to do something like this is amazing."
For those who can't wait for the series to begin, and as part of a BBC initiative to create deeper, more interactive experiences for the audience, there is a supporting online site where users can follow the two men on their three month and 20-country summer adventure via bbc.co.uk/longwaydown.
Here, visitors to the site can leave comments and advice for Ewan and Charley, access their travel blogs, and view clips of their adventure which will be uploaded to the BBC channel on YouTube.
The challenges faced by Ewan and Charley on their last trip were innumerable – from navigating dangerous river crossings, negotiating with the Russian mafia over a place to stay, pushing their bikes to the limit on unpaved roads, and frequent (and near fatal) crashes – but the obstacles quickly highlighted the stuff these men were made of, as they met each with boundless enthusiasm and an indomitable spirit.
Scheduled for broadcast on BBC Two in Autumn 2007, Long Way Down has been acquired by Richard Klein, BBC Commissioning Editor of Documentaries, and is being made as a co-production by independent production companies, Big Earth and Elixir Films.
Richard Klein said: "I really enjoyed Long Way Round and it's fantastic news that Ewan and Charley are coming to BBC Two for Long Way Down.
"And this time around it's going to be even more intimate – with cameras on their bikes and helmets, a website, and video diaries capturing their joys, sorrows and frustrations as they happen. Viewers of the series will enjoy a unique, first person perspective of the landscape and people of Africa.
"I'm particularly excited that this is a multi-platform commission with a real opportunity for mobile and website programming to lead before the television series hits the air."
On their journey, Ewan and Charley will stop to experience the richness of African culture – from taking part in tribal dances to learning survival techniques from the Maasai – as well as once again raising money for Unicef, and highlighting the continent's mounting problem of Aids, hunger and malaria.
Russ Malkin of Big Earth, and David Alexanian from Elixir Films, said: "Our first recollection of Long Way Down being discussed was after the Jonathan Ross show – we came back from the studio and Ewan joked that he'd mentioned it.
"Ten to 15 minutes of cautious conversation followed, then enthusiasm and excitement started in the group, and there was no going back!
"But this is more risky than Long Way Round, definitely. If we all turn up in Cape Town healthy and happy, that will be the most amazing moment."
Produced and directed by David Alexanian and Russ Malkin, Long Way Down is a landmark documentary series for BBC Two, and the latest in a number of rich BBC documentaries fronted by well-known faces, from the widely acclaimed Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of A Manic Depressive, through to Victoria Wood's new series Victoria's Empire, and the forthcoming Stephen Fry: HIV And Me (an accessible look at how the disease has affected some of the actor's closest friends) as well as a Lenny Henry-fronted series, Lenny's Britain.
Notes to Editors
Ewan and Charley's first journey, Long Way Round, was broadcast on Sky.
Their journey across the globe for Long Way Round enabled Ewan Mcgregor and Charley Boorman to raise over £100,000 for Unicef.
The BBC online offering will allow people to follow Ewan and Charley on their journey. People logging on to bbc.co.uk/longwaydown will:
- Have access to a Google map where they can follow the team's highs and lows, adventures, disappointments and triumphs day-by-day via video, images and blogs from the team.
- Add their own comments and advice for the team.
- Link to travel blogs and sites.
- Preview features on the team's preparation for the trip - the bikes, the hazards, the physical build up.
- View country information - details on what the guys will find along the road.
- See profiles of the crew - how they got involved, their roles on the road, and their hopes for the trip.
In addition, there will be:
- Weekly clips uploaded to the BBC channel on YouTube.
- A WAP site offering weekly updates, galleries, and more.