Follow TV Tropes


Series / Long Way Round

Go To
Long Way Round is a travelogue series starring Ewan McGregor and his good friend and fellow actor Charley Boorman. There have been two editions:

  • Long Way Round (2004), in which McGregor and Boorman travel from London to New York—not by flying on a plane or anything, but by hopping on their motorbikes and traveling east, all the way across Europe and Asia and North America, visiting thirteen countries and traveling 18,887 miles. Countries visited included the UK, France, Belgium, Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, the United States, and Canada.
  • Long Way Down (2007), in which the motorbike-crazy duo ride from John O'Groats at the northern tip of Britain to Cape Town, South Africa. Countries visited included the UK, France, Italy, Tunisia, Libya, The Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Namibia, Botswana, and South Africa.

Boorman has gone on to film solo travel series entitled By Any Means and Right to the Edge: Sydney to Tokyo By Any Means. A third Long Way Round series, to take place in South America and tentatively titled Long Way Up, has been suggested but does not appear to be forthcoming.note 


These travel series provide examples of:

  • Amusing Injuries: Ewan's body reacts poorly to mosquito bites. One got him on the forehead, causing his face to swell into a "manimal" appearance. He also shows off several bites on his butt and mentions bites on his penis.
  • Artistic License – Physics: When they hit the Equator in Kenya, Ewan and Charley watch a demonstration of the Coriolis effect (how water goes down a drain in opposite directions in the Northern and Southern hemispheres). Charley admits via voiceover that they later found out they were fooled; twenty meters on either side of the Equator is not enough to make any difference to water drainage.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: It would have been easier to just fly to New York, wouldn't it?
  • Badass Biker: Yup.
  • Broken Pedestal: Charley heavily lobbied for he and Ewan to ride KTM bikes and eagerly expected that a company that marketed itself as the premiere off-road motorcycle company would support them on their adventure. He was shocked to hear that KTM decided to pass on sponsoring the trip and was furious to learn that the company justified the decision by saying that KTM didn't want to support a project that could possibly fail. Charley could then be seen angrily ripping down the KTM posters he'd hung around Long Way Round's production offices.
  • Advertisement:
  • Circumcision Angst: Ewan and Charley spend the night with a Kenyan tribe that is getting ready to circumcise its young males. Charley in particular is bothered by the description of the ritual.
  • Cool Car: In the second episode of Long Way Down the group camps for the night inside Silverstone Circuit, a race track in England. Ewan and Charley get driven around in some racing Ferraris the next morning.
  • Crazy-Prepared
    • The special ten-episode edition of Long Way Round spends all of the first two episodes on preparation. Boorman and McGregor practice not only off-road riding and camping, but more unusual situations like how to give a bribe and how to escape ambush by bandits.
      • Also their equipment. Locals who repair the cameraman's bike laugh that they have such a great set of tools yet no clue how to use them. They ditch some of their gear midway due to excessive weight.
    • In Long Way Down they do things like work out with a strength and conditioning coach and practice what to do if they are taken hostage.
  • Crossover: Ewan and Charley meet the fellows from American Chopper and ride with them for the last few miles to New York City.
  • Confession Cam: Or, rather, video diaries.
  • Creepy Cathedral:
    • The "Church of Bones" (Sedlec Ossuary) in the Czech Republic.
    • In Rwanda they visit a church, since made into a memorial museum, where Tutsi refugees were massacred during the 1994 genocide. There are bones piled everywhere as well as the clothes of the dead.
  • Darkest Hour: The dirt "roads" of western Mongolia—rock-strewn trails in the higher elevations and bike-swallowing mud ruts in the lower elevations—prove so tough that Boorman and McGregor briefly consider abandoning Mongolia for Russia and its more reliable roads. When they finally reach tarmac, Boorman lies face down on the ground and kisses the road.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: At one point in Long Way Round Boorman says that he is sleeping in a separate tent because he wants to wank in private.
  • Description Cut: McGregor pronounces the Siberian town of Tynda "grim" and wonders "What do they do here?". Cut to Ewan and Charley getting down in a Tynda disco.
  • Farts on Fire: Charley Boorman actually does this in Italy. Yes, he really does.
  • Foreign Queasine: A roasted sheep's head in Kazakhstan; assorted animal testicles in Mongolia.
  • Hero of Another Story: In Sudan, Ewan and Charley run across a bicyclist named Jason Lewis, a British adventurer headed northbound on the same road, who was completing a thirteen-year-journey around the world using only human power. Lewis had crossed the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in a paddleboat. He finished his journey a few months later.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Ewan and Charley.
  • Idiot Ball: As the group approaches Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, they reach a rickety-looking bridge. Charley, not trusting the bridge, decides to test whether the river is fordable. As he is wading through the river without any pants on, he looks over and sees a local zipping across the bridge on a motorbike.
    Charley: I look like a right idiot.
  • Indy Ploy: Ewan and Charley have to board a train in Tynda, Russia because the road to Magadan is unfinished and impassible to motorbikes. Train station officials refuse to let them get tickets and load up their bikes in the cargo compartment—so Ewan and Charley ride in the baggage compartment with the bikes.
  • Lighter and Softer: Long Way Down is this. In Round Ewan, Charley, and Claudio spent most of the series apart from their support team, except for border crossings, and as a result they ran into some real difficulties. In Down they are continually accompanied by a support truck that includes a security guard and a medic, and local "fixers" help guide the team on their way.
  • The Mafiya: The travelers are warned of this when entering Ukraine. After going further in Ukraine, they are invited to stay by a local electronics salesman who seems unusually prosperous and has a startlingly large collection of automatic weapons. (The scene where their host comes down the stairs sporting a guitar and a Kalashnikov is a highlight.)
  • Manly Tears: Ewan cries as they cross the bridge over the Hudson River to New York.
  • Politician Guest Star: In Rwanda they get to meet President Paul Kagame.
  • Previously On
  • Scenery Porn: The series delivers some beautiful scenery. Ewan and Charley marvel at the beauty of Mongolia even as they are driven to the edge of madness by the difficult roads.
  • Shout-Out:
    • "Those aren't pillows" (when Ewan and Charley are going to bed in a tent).
    • Appropriately enough, Ewan likes to reference his roles in the Star Wars prequels. After having a little spat with Charley he says "you must do what you think is right" and then exclaims "I can't do it without the cloak!".
    • At one point Ewan calls their little show "Travels With Charley".
  • That Russian Squat Dance: Briefly seen in Kiev.
  • Travelogue Show
  • Universal Driver's License: Averted with Claudio, their Swiss cameraman and fellow traveler. During preparation for the Long Way Round trip Claudio discovers that his Swiss motorbike license is no good in Britain. He takes a motorbike test and fails. This delay causes him to miss the beginning of the trip. Consequently the first three days of the journey are almost entirely omitted and the filmed journey only picks up after Claudio flies out and meets them in Prague.


Example of: