Long Way Down

Long Way Down

Infobox Television
show_name = Long Way Down

caption =
genre = Documentary
creator = Ewan McGregor Charley Boorman David Alexanian Russ Malkin
developer =
starring = Ewan McGregor, Charley Boorman
country = United Kingdom
language = English
num_episodes = 6 (10 ep. extended broadcast)
producer = David Alexanian Russ Malkin
executive_producer =
location =
camera =
runtime =
network = BBC Two
first_run =
first_aired = 28 October 2007
last_aired = 2 December 2007
related = "Long Way Round" "Race To Dakar" By Any Means
website = http://www.longwaydown.com
imdb_id = 0959858

"Long Way Down" is a television series, book and DVD documenting a motorcycle journey undertaken by Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman, on which they rode south through 18 countries from John o' Groats in Scotland to Cape Town in South Africa via Europe and Africa in 2007. It is a follow-up to the "Long Way Round" trip of 2004, when the pair rode east from London to New York via Eurasia and North America.

The journey started on 12 May 2007 and finished on 4 August 2007. [cite news | url = http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/6931450.stm | title = Actors complete 'Long Way' ride | publisher = BBC News | date = 2007-08-04 | accessdate = 2007-08-04] They were accompanied by the key members of the team from Long Way Round, including cameraman and director of photography Claudio Von Planta, producers Russ Malkin and David Alexanian, and cameraman Jimmy Simak. They were also joined by a medic and a security officer, as well as various "fixers" - local guides and interpreters - throughout the journey. They rode the BMW R1200GS Adventure, the successor to the R1150GS Adventure bikes they rode in Long Way Round. [cite web | url = http://www.bbc.co.uk/longwaydown/feature/the_bikes.shtml | title = Long Way Down, The Bikes | publisher = BBC | date = 2007-04-24 | author = Mat Oxley | accessdate = 2007-09-24]

As with their previous trip, and Boorman's "Race To Dakar", Russ Malkin and his production company Big Earth produced the series. The television series based on the trip began broadcast on BBC Two on 28 October 2007. [cite web | url = http://www.longwaydown.com/ | title = Long Way Down is almost here! | accessdate = 2007-10-19] Video clips and photos from the adventure were shown online by the BBC during the series' production.

The program will air in the U.S. on the Fox Reality Channel beginning 2 August 2008


The team travelled from their base in Olympia, London to John o' Groats at the northern tip of Scotland to begin their journey. The start was almost delayed after Boorman, frustrated by an official at London Gatwick Airport, made an off-the-cuff comment related to terrorism, and was detained for questioning by local police. After being released without charge, Boorman took a later flight to Inverness and the journey was able to begin as scheduled. The team took four days to ride from John o' Groats back to London, via the McGregor family home in Crieff and the Silverstone racetrack, where they camped in the middle of the circuit. They took the Eurotunnel to France, and rode south to Italy. The European leg of the journey ended in Sicily, where they caught a ferry to Tunisia.

From Tunisia, they rode into Libya, although American producer David Alexanian and cameraman Jimmy Simak were unable to obtain the necessary entry visas and were forced to fly from Tunisia to Egypt where they rejoined the team. After visiting the pyramids they boarded a ferry and travelled to Sudan, continued into Ethiopia and then into Kenya, where they crossed the equator. From Kenya they rode to Uganda and then Rwanda, where they had an audience with President Paul Kagame. They went from there to Tanzania, and then into Malawi, where they were joined by Ewan McGregor's wife Eve. The final leg of the trip took them through Zambia, Namibia, Botswana and finally into South Africa. The journey ended at Cape Agulhas, to where they were accompanied from Cape Town by a phalanx of bikers, similar to their arrival in New York on the Long Way Round journey.

Border crossings

Given the number of countries they passed through, the team anticipated delays and problems at the various borders they would need to cross, particularly in Africa. However, after their experiences on the Long Way Round journey, which included problems with Russian visas, a "fine" due to a missing stamp in their carnet document and border delays of up to 12 hours, a major focus of the preparation stage was planning for transit between countries. Although the American crew members were barred from entering Libya, this was anticipated ahead of their arrival at the border. Upon arrival in Tunisia, the team had to bribe the local authorities with a few bottles of vodka to ease their passage into the country, which they assumed would be par for the course as they travelled through Africa. However, although short delays of up to a few hours were common, there were few significant problems at crossing points as they made their way further south.

Breakdowns and accidents

Although they were often pleasantly surprised with the quality of road surfaces they encountered throughout Africa, there were sections that required travelling over rough, bumpy and sandy terrain. The shock absorbers bore the brunt of the punishing sections, with both McGregor and von Planta suffering broken springs. As the only spare had been fitted to McGregor's bike, von Planta had to ride in the support vehicles at one point, while his bike was sent on ahead for repairs. McGregor and Boorman also came off and damaged their bodywork, with Boorman involved in the more serious incident on a motorway in South Africa. Boorman admitted he had been "putting on a show" for a roadside garage, and braked sharply as part of his manoeuver. Claudio von Planta failed to notice this and was forced to take evasive action at the last second, coming off his bike and hitting his helmet off the tarmac. Luckily, he was shaken but uninjured, and was able to complete the ride to Cape Agulhas. McGregor's wife Eve, a relatively inexperienced rider, took several falls on the sandy terrain of Malawi and Zambia, but all at relatively slow speed, and with no significant injuries.


The main song on the soundtrack is performed by Welsh group Stereophonics. It is the B-side available on the Dakota single. The music featured in the opening credits was identical to the Long Way Round theme, only with "down" substituted for "round". Co-director of photography Jimmy Simak also acted as musical coordinator.

Dates of "Long Way Down" episodes


* "Long Way Down" (DVD), EMI / Elixir Productions, 2007. ASIN: B0017WVST2
* "Long Way Down" (book), Sphere Publishing, 2007. ISBN 1847440533

External links

* [http://www.longwaydown.com/ Official website]
* [http://natgeotv.com.au/Programmes/Custom/LongWayDown/Intro.aspx?Id=1319 National Geographic Channel]
* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/longwaydown/ BBC microsite]

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