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Charley Boorman

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Charley Boorman
Charles Boorman in an episode of Long Way Up (2020)
Born (1966-08-23) 23 August 1966 (age 57)
Wimbledon, England
Occupation(s)Writer, television presenter, traveller
Years active1972–present
Olivia Boorman
(m. 1990)
Parent(s)John Boorman
Christel Kruse

Charley Boorman (born 23 August 1966) is a British television presenter, travel writer and actor. A motorbike enthusiast, Boorman has made three long-distance motorcycle rides with his friend Ewan McGregor, documented in Long Way Round (2004), Long Way Down (2007), and Long Way Up (2020).

Early life and background[edit]

Born in Wimbledon, London, Boorman spent much of his formative years in County Wicklow, Ireland. Boorman is the son of German costume designer Christel Kruse and film director Sir John Boorman.[1] Lee Marvin, a lifelong friend of his father, was Charley's godfather.

Boorman attended three schools in Ireland: St Gerard's School (Bray, County Wicklow) and St Oliver Plunkett Primary School (Monkstown, County Dublin), both Roman Catholic schools, the latter a school dedicated to teaching children with dyslexia. He also attended the German-language medium school, St Kilian's Deutsche Schule (Dublin). In England, he went on to attend Sibford School, a Quaker school near Banbury, Oxfordshire (from 1980 to 1983).[citation needed]


He and his wife Olivia have two daughters and live in London.[citation needed]

Acting career[edit]

At an early age, Boorman started appearing in films directed by his father. His first role was in Deliverance (1972).

In 1981 Boorman played a young Mordred in Excalibur, and was joined by his older sister Katrine Boorman who played Ygraine, Mordred's grandmother. In in 1985 played a leading role in The Emerald Forest. In 1987 he had a non-speaking role in Hope and Glory as a young German Luftwaffe pilot parachuting into wartime London, having been shot down; his sister Katrine also appeared in the film.

His further acting appearances include The Serpent's Kiss (1997), on which he met Ewan McGregor, and The Bunker (2001).

Theatre show[edit]

In 2007, Boorman appeared on stage in Newcastle upon Tyne at the Tyne Theatre. The 'evening with' style show then went on a tour around the UK and Ireland in 2010. Around this time Boorman revealed he had testicular cancer. Caught early, he had a testicle removed and has since been a supporter of Movember. Boorman was given the all-clear, but continued telling audiences across the country about his ordeal, encouraging more men to be aware and get checked out early if there was any concern. In 2011, the Charley Boorman Live show toured the UK and Ireland again, following a similar format to the first tour but without support acts.

Boorman also began promoting African Adventures, which are commercial 17-day BMW motorcycle trips across Africa. Taking 50 riders from Cape Town to Victoria Falls, Boorman used various technologies to help promote the trip, including a GPS satellite tracking device allowing people to follow the trip day by day.

Charity work[edit]

Boorman has supported the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) since 2004, carrying out a number of visits to UNICEF projects, which have been noted in his television programmes Long Way Round, Long Way Down and By Any Means. In 2009, Boorman was made president of Dyslexia Action; he is dyslexic. Boorman has been on many visits to Dyslexia Action's regional centres and was involved in the charity's appeal "It's ME!". He also supported its school initiative "P4L" (Partnership for Literacy). Boorman participated in a live web chat for the charity where he answered questions about his dyslexia and his various adventures.[2]

In 2009, Boorman went to Helmand Province, Afghanistan and visited troops. Kandahar and Bastion were the two key camps he visited, just before Christmas.

In February 2014 and November 2016 Boorman presented Gold Duke of Edinburgh's Awards [1] at St James's Palace, on behalf of The Duke of Edinburgh.


Boorman was involved in a serious accident test riding a motorbike with journalists in Portugal in 2016.[3] Boorman broke both legs[4] after colliding with a wall while avoiding a car that pulled out in front of him. He then broke his hip riding a Vespa while still in recovery.[3] After a period reliant on a wheelchair, Boorman is back riding, but now walks with a limp as his left leg is 1 cm shorter than his right after operations to repair the breaks.[3]

Presenting career[edit]

Long Way Round[edit]

In 2004, Ewan McGregor and Boorman undertook an international motorcycle journey from London to New York, riding east across Europe, Asia, and North America. This was recorded for a popular television series and book.[5] Critical responses were mixed, with one noting 'Boorman comes across as a copper-bottomed, ocean-going, 24-carat prick.'[6]

Race to Dakar[edit]

Along with producer Russ Malkin (from Long Way Round) and a motorbike team, Boorman competed in the 2006 Dakar Rally in January 2006. The event was filmed and the series Race to Dakar began on Sky2 in the United Kingdom in October 2006. During the rally Boorman was injured and was forced to retire from the race after five days.[7]

Long Way Down[edit]

In 2007, he took another journey with McGregor: Long Way Down,[8] a trip from John o' Groats in Scotland, to Cape Town, South Africa. This was televised on BBC2 starting in October 2007.[9]

By Any Means[edit]

Boorman in 2008

In 2008, Boorman produced By Any Means, which started in his hometown in County Wicklow, ending in Sydney.[10] He set out to complete the journey "by any means", using local transport appropriate to the area being travelled, and using air travel only when necessary.[11]

Right to the Edge: Sydney to Tokyo By Any Means[edit]

In 2009, Boorman undertook a journey titled Right to the Edge: Sydney to Tokyo By Any Means, travelling from Sydney to Tokyo via the Pacific Rim. The programme documenting this trip has been shown on BBC2.

World's Most Dangerous Roads: Alaska[edit]

Boorman appeared with Sue Perkins in Series 1 of the BBC TV series World's Most Dangerous Roads: Alaska, shown in 2011, in which they drove the Dalton Highway.[12]

Charley Boorman's Extreme Frontiers[edit]

In 2011, Boorman presented a prime-time adventure series for Channel 5, Charley Boorman's Extreme Frontiers. This show was another collaboration between Boorman and producer-director Russ Malkin, who made frequent on-screen appearances. Extreme Frontiers claimed to 'take in all four extremities of Canada'. Accompanying the show was book and DVD.

From 9 June to 22 July 2012, Boorman and his team journeyed around South Africa on two motorbikes and a 4-wheel vehicle.[13]

Charley Boorman USA Adventure[edit]

Boorman and Malkin returned on Channel 5 at the end of 2013 for his next trip, which was in the US. Starting in Hawaii, he moves to Alaska, then to the Eastern seaboard and down to the Southern states, inland to the Gulf of Mexico, up again to the Rockies and finishing on the Pacific Coast at Los Angeles

Long Way Up[edit]

Boorman and McGregor travelled in 2019 from Ushuaia in Argentina through South and Central America to Los Angeles in the United States on electric Harley-Davidson LiveWire motorbikes.[14]

Motorbike TV[edit]

In 2022 Boorman began presenting Motorbike TV, a motorcycle magazine entertainment show for Motorsport.TV.[15]



Year Title Character Name Notes
2004 Long Way Round Himself With Ewan McGregor, from London to New York City through Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Russia, Alaska, Canada.
2006 Race to Dakar Himself
2007 Long Way Down Himself With Ewan McGregor, from John o' Groats in Scotland to Cape Town in South Africa
2008 By Any Means Himself Ireland to Sydney
2009 Right to the Edge: Sydney to Tokyo By Any Means Himself Sydney to Tokyo
2011 Charley Boorman's Extreme Frontiers Himself 3 Seasons, Canada, South Africa and USA
2011 World's Most Dangerous Roads Himself In Episode 1, with Sue Perkins, in Alaska
2011 Famous and Fearless Himself Winner. Chosen charity: UNICEF
2013 Freedom Riders Asia Himself through six Asian courntries Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, India, Vietnam and Thailand[16]
2014 Me and Me Dad: A Portrait of John Boorman contributor An intimate portrait about the iconic filmmaker John Boorman directed by his daughter Katrine Boorman.
2014 Celebrity MasterChef Himself
2020 Long Way Up Himself With Ewan McGregor from Ushuaia in Argentina through South and Central America to Los Angeles



  1. ^ "John Boorman biography". Filmreference.com. Retrieved 5 May 2009.
  2. ^ "Charley Boorman becomes Dyslexia Action President". Archived from the original on 8 July 2009. Retrieved 28 January 2010.
  3. ^ a b c Sweeney, Joanne (11 May 2017). "Charlie Boorman tells of his Long Way Back to recovery after motorbike accident". The Irish News. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  4. ^ Tibu, Florin (18 February 2016). "Charley Boorman Breaks Both Legs After Colliding with a Car". autoevolution. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  5. ^ "Long Way Up". Long Way Up. Retrieved 3 December 2022.
  6. ^ Farndale, Nigel (13 September 2008). "Charley Boorman: the star trekker" – via www.telegraph.co.uk.
  7. ^ Charley Boorman (2006) Race to Dakar. Time Warner Books. ISBN 978-0-316-02711-3
  8. ^ "Long Way Down". Archived from the original on 16 October 2007. Retrieved 16 October 2007. The Long Way Down official Site
  9. ^ "BBC Two - Long Way Down". BBC.
  10. ^ "By Any Means". Archived from the original on 2 May 2008. Retrieved 29 April 2008. Itinerary on official BigEarth site
  11. ^ MotorcycleNews.com interview Archived 26 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "BBC Two – World's Most Dangerous Roads, Series 1, Alaska". BBC. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  13. ^ "Extreme Frontiers South Africa". Retrieved 14 November 2012.
  14. ^ "Ewan and Charley's next adventure has begun on electric bikes". Motorcycle News. Retrieved 2 October 2019.
  15. ^ "Motorbike TV". motorsport.tv. Retrieved 8 December 2022.
  16. ^ DeHart, Jonathan. "Freedom Riders Asia: Charley Boorman's Motorcycle Tour of the Far East". thediplomat.com. Retrieved 29 November 2020.
  • Holmstrom, John. The Moving Picture Boy: An International Encyclopaedia from 1895 to 1995. Norwich, Michael Russell, 1996, p. 363.

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