Always a shame, it is, when you get that sad, sickly feeling in your gut that comes with witnessing someone you sort of admire and like at a distance of a million miles, making a total arse of themselves. Step forward, in leather, Ewan McGregor.
I tuned into BBC2’s The Long Way Down when I finally despaired of Michael Palin’s creaking journey through wherever it is he was tasting odd food or doing odd things with odd people. I glimpsed McGregor’s first motorbike world journey with Charley Boorman and stayed well away. I knew what it was in one twist of the gas: two lads blagging a monster freebie holiday on the back of one lad’s big dollop of fame. Sunday night laziness and boredom brought me to this new show.
Funnily enough, I was at the London Book Fair in 2004 when McGregor announced the first venture. How many people could get a big book deal and TV tie-in for such a self-serving, vacuous venture? The publishing girls were going nuts as McGregor ambled through the trade fair. Hilarious. Now, the guy is a brilliant actor, no doubt, but, really, girls, would he be such an out-and-out hunk if you took away the fame?
Well, take away the fame from the Long Way Down and you really would have an average looking TV show with little sex appeal and no chance of getting on the air. I’ve always thought McGregor to be a cool, un-showy Hollywood star, something of a one-off. But in this he is more like one-off the wrist and comes across as supremely spoilt and self-centred. Quote of the night came as he sat on his new BMW freebie superbike: “Just think, from tomorrow, it is only me (Me, Me, Me) and my bike for three months”. Well, yes: You and a film crew and a back-up team including a medic, drivers, fixers, tent erectors, arse wipers, and of course your big buddy Charley. Which bring me to Boorman. I worry for the man. He looks ill, unhappy and particularly strung out as he clings for all his worth to his star friend’s famous leather coat-tails. The fact that Ewan’s wife has invited herself along on the trip – and he has said he “can’t wait” – promises some dark comedy.
The Long Way Down is almost worth tuning in to for its cringe factor. It is bike crash television.