Review: Charley Boorman, Queen’s Hall


TROTTER of the global variety, petrolhead, chum of celebrities and doer of good deeds. It would be easy to see Charley Boorman as a kind of Mother Theresa who you could have a pint with or Jeremy Clarkson with a social conscience but in truth he’s neither.

Instead Boorman is an affable and very likeable guy who knows that the fates have given him good friends and good fortune and who, thankfully for his audience, is more than happy to share them with a room full of strangers.

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Many people forget, or might not be aware that Boorman’s father is a film director or that Charley himself has appeared in numerous movies, so it was nice to start the evening off with a few Hollywood tales such as the drunken escapades of his godfather Lee Marvin, Mary Tyler Moore’s part in the success of Deliverance and being oiled up by Helen Mirren. It was also clear that the gypsy life of location shooting helped spark the lifelong love of travel that Boorman has turned into his current career.

Most of the evening was spent on his traveller’s tales, first his cross-continental bike-a-thons with pal Ewan McGregor, from their haphazard beginnings to tasting testicle soup in Mongolia and enjoying some well-armed Ukrainian hospitality, and later his solo journeys including his bone-crushing and very short time in the Dakar rally and his bother with boats on his show By Any Means Necessary.

Boorman also spoke honestly and with great humour about his recent brush with testicular cancer – first diagnosed after a visit to the vets – and used his talk to not only publicise his TV adventuring but also to promote the Movember cancer charity event.

Not the showiest of speakers and on occasion having to be prompted by interviewer Billy Ward Boorman’s stories were still enjoyable because they were true and you couldn’t help but picture him as the sort of man you might meet in a bar offering up vicarious thrills to armchair travellers before sending them home to their pipe and slippers.