Holy flagellating hellfire! Now, I have suffered through a lot of bad, bad television in my time, but nothing could quite prepare me for the scream-at-the-top-of-your-lungs, smash-your-skull-repeatedly-into-a-brick-wall, fall-down-sobbing-on-the-floor levels of rage and ire that the over-titled demonic dancing festival of pointless egotism that was Charley Boorman: Ireland To Sydney By Any Means would provoke inside my mild-mannered belly. We're talking anger of an epic and monstrous scale, anger that would rend asunder the seas from the skies, anger so volatile that it caused the folks from the black hole factory in CERN to shift uneasily in their seats and hastily check the escape routes to their nuclear bunkers. Man, it made me tetchy.
I'll be interested to know how long I will be able to describe this programme before descending into constant swearing and the random clumps of letters generated by chewing on one's own keyboard, so here goes: Charley Boorman appears to be a non-famous friend of a famous and charismatic film star. He has been in two programmes before where he has ridden a motorbike across the world with his film star friend to raise money for charity. These previous efforts have escaped me entirely, but one can assume that watching the beard of a famous and charismatic film star slowly grow accompanied by vistas of Africa and lashings of liberal guilt could hold some televisual appeal. This new programme is broadly the same, apart from it contains no f+c film stars, no hint of any charitable impulses, and absolutely no point whatsoever. It is basically a documentary about a completely uninteresting and unwatchable man travelling across the world because he feels like it and because, and this is the real sucker punch, THE BBC ARE PAYING FOR IT.
The whole thing seemed to be designed to rub that last fact into our feckless, rubbery faces. Charley Boorman goes to his HUGE warehouse in west London and skateboards around like a tosser while his team of photogenic early-20s researchers plan his epic round the world trip with our money. Charley Boorman goes to a custom motorbike manufacturer and coos over the high-spec vintage motorcycle with chrome and leather he has had made with our money. Charley Boorman shows off the valuable antique monogrammed suitcase his friend "sourced" (Gah! Vein in forehead just popped) with our money. Charley Boorman goes to the beach and sacrifices a goat then burns it on a funeral pyre fuelled with our money (maybe).
It's a real struggle to know why this is on TV. Is it a travelogue? Well, no - it has a flimsy gimmick, in that they are trying to travel from Ireland to Sydney without using planes, but that seemed to be secondary to their main aim of riding their shiny bikes wherever they damn well feel. (They, incidentally, being Boorman and his new sidekick, who will probably end up with his own show in 2010, starting an endless cycle of talentless no-marks trotting round the globe which will only be stopped when fiery apocalypse causes the annihilation of all life on this planet.) Charley Boorman is such a complete dunderheaded idiot, he is incapable of passing any comment on the places he drifts through, save for saying it's great to be there and oh by the way, look at my motorbike! Isn't it shiny! In fact, the programme makers play up his idiocy as if it's endearing or something. His road trip companions chuckle indulgently as they point out he's no good at planning or taking instruction, as if he's a four-year-old, or a monkey in a business suit. In one excruciating moment, Charley fumbles a phone receiver and laughs directly into the camera for twenty minutes, while around him the photogenic 20-somethings bray compliantly. No, programme makers, he is not a lovable buffoon. He is an incapable sponger who has had it too good for too long, and must be stopped. This oughta do it.
Note: Admittedly, I only got to the 36-minute mark of the first show, by which time we had had 34 minutes of looking at oh how fucking brilliant Charley Boorman was and about 2 minutes of travelling, so there's a good chance the programme perked up after that. I have an excuse, though - they'd just got to the Isle of Man and were, for some reason, repeatedly showing in slow-motion a TT race bike crash where a rider got flung 100 yards like a rag doll, and I drifted off into long an happy fantasy involving Boorman, his stupid fucking motorbike, and a piece of piano wire stretched across a blind bend. Mmm. Relaxing.
Additional note: for a more succinct, coherent and generally professional slagging of this show, check out Sam Wollaston.