I'm a binge viewer. I'll admit it. The bottom line is that I hate commercials, even though a few years ago I used to work in advertising and produced more than a few commercials in my time. The best away to avoid the Madison Ave ad machine is to watch shows on sites like HBOGo or Netflix. I was perusing Netflix and saw Ewan McGregor's Long Way Down listed and decided to give it a try. The thing about Netflix and other sites is they give you a chance to see things you missed or, in the case of a lot of you, were on before your time. Long Way Down aired on BBC2 and other channels back in 2007-2008 timeframe with occasional airings on ESPN Classic over the years.
In the show, McGregor and his good friend Charley Boorman (actor, adventurer, Paris-Dakar racer) travelled through Europe, and then Africa – from Tunisia to South Africa, via countries such as Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Namibia - a total of 15,000 miles. The best part is the gritty reality of the show. It's not all smiles and happiness. There are a lot of problems including mechanical, interpersonal, bouts of extreme fatigue, and serious issues at times with various governments.
An interesting facet of the program is the planning and support vehicles. At no time is the viewer under the impression that Ewan and Charley magically roll through the trip alone. It is a team effort and everybody gets time onscreen.
The support vehicles included two Nissan Patrol SUVs, which later spawned the Long Way Down themed Nissan Navara. The Nissans seem pretty tough. And the team didn't just jump in and drive. They all received training on everything from driving in rough terrain to surviving a kidnapping scenario. After all, they crossed parts of Africa where serious security nightmares could possibly have awaited them.
The bikes were provided by BMW. Three BMW R 1200 GS models were used and thoroughly thrashed about. They break down and you'll see Ewan McGregor do repairs himself as he's guided by a BMW tech over sat phone. It's an unvarnished view of how vehicles survive and don't survive such harsh conditions.
From a pure cinematic point of view, the show is truly wonderful. The vistas are breathtaking, and if it weren't for the grittiness of the content one might fantasize such a ride. Instead, just binge view the six 50-minute episodes on Netflix.