A few months ago I did a spot on Long Way Round.
Hot on its baffles is a review for Long Way Down – right here, right now.
My first gripe comes with the fucking awful theme tune. I moaned about it in the last one and here I am moaning about it again, look. It’s a dreadful moronic noise that suggests we’re about to watch cage fighting with the homeless. Actually, if it wasn’t for my vast kink for motorcycles I wouldn’t bother staying tuned in.
What is obvious from the outset is that both Ewan and Charley have lost the wide-eyed trepidation of the earlier trip. They seem a lot more seasoned and confident – cocky, almost. HQ in this series consists of a vast garage containing thousands of quids worth of high-tech machinery and offices that deal with all the admin. I don’t recall such luxury originally. In ‘Round’ they spent an episode getting their bikes and another dealing with all the 4×4’s. This time they just materialised out of the blue, as did all the support vehicles and equipment.
Basic survival training was undertaken as they’re passing through some war torn parts of Africa. It went some way to taking the edge off their swagger, but apart from that and a few visa issues they were good to go. Then things got awkward.
Ewan breaks his leg at some traffic lights in London, minor fracture though, so it’s no big deal, yeah? But more seriously, Charley’s wife gets pneumonia and a collapsed lung. Being the hardly lass she is, she has no problem letting her husband go with her blessing, but Ewan’s wife has other ideas.
Not having ridden a bike before and being French, she decides she wants to accompany them on the trip. Ewan seems quite chuffed at the prospect but I should imagine this was for keeping the peace at the McGregor homestead. Charley began chewing his nails…
My immediate thought when I saw her explaining that she wanted to get involved was anger. It’s fucking ridiculous to even entertain the thought of biking in such extreme conditions if you’ve no experience. It puts an unnecessary pressure on all involved – it’s one thing trying to focus on what one is doing when biking without having to check the welfare of another. It’s dangerous, tiring and shit and happily fucks the dynamic of the two protagonists not to mention putting a strain on their genuine friendship
So now we’re subject to her learning to ride a fucking bike; really Ewan should’ve put his foot down (on her head) and told his wife to get on with looking after the kids and hehaw hehawing with onions, but instead he’s actively encouraging her! This wasn’t the original idea, what the bloody hell is going on here? Mercifully Charley had something to say about this situation (and a whole lot more off camera I’ll wager) so instead of joining them for the while trip, which I suspect would’ve been cancelled anyway following Charley storming off the programme, she’s now going to be joining them for two weeks in Africa, which is still a fucking ludicrous idea.
Despite being a little more rushed and little less oblique than Round, from my point of view it’s still a very entertaining series, but I wonder if that’s because I get the chaps, I am afflicted with the same motorcycle obsession they have, especially Charley who like me was riding before he was 10. Really, you can point a camera at a big bike and I will happily sit there and watch, even if it’s not moving. I’m mentally involved in their enthusiastic bike-related chatter, by proxy I experience the euphoria of getting on something beautiful and feeling extraordinary. Jesus, readers, I fucking get it.
Subsequently I empathise with their friendship, the bond they have over and above just being mates, making me even more angry that Ewan’s wife insisted on poking her fucking gallic nose into their business.
I’ve never been angrier about anything in my life, look… graaahhh, aaaarggghhh roar etc.,