Adventure People

Interview with Adventure Dad Charley Boorman

Written by Kirstie Pelling

In the second post of our Adventure Parents series, actor and TV presenter Charley Boorman explains how his upbringing shaped his lifelong sense of adventure. Charley is an enthusiastic and experienced world traveller and his passion for adventure can be seen in his many best selling TV documentaries. But his love of the outdoors and his appetite for challenge isn’t just for the cameras; it’s also an important part of his family life, and has been since he was a child. Charley will be speaking about some of his adventures at the Daily Telegraph Adventure Show next weekend, but I got in touch with him in advance to ask what led to him becoming an Adventure Dad….

Adventure Dad Charley Boorman

I didn’t know much about Charley before I wrote this, apart from that he’s bike mad and big buddies with Ewan McGregor. When I first saw him on TV in Long Way Round, I thought he was just a showbiz pal and Obi-Wan Kenobe groupie. But having seen a few of his series it’s clear he is a genuine action man and has a real adventurous spirit. And when I found out he was also an adventurous Dad I started to really warm to this guy.

For anyone who hasn’t been following his career, Charley Boorman first burst on the small screen in 2004 travelling by motorbike from London to New York with actor Ewan McGregor in Long Way Round. It couldn’t have been easy competing for camera attention with a Hollywood film star but it soon became apparent that Charley was also a bit of Jedi in training, as he coped with the many ups and downs of the difficult journey. He followed that by competing in the Dakar Rally; one of the most dangerous and demanding motor races on earth. Undaunted by injury, he embarked on another journey with McGregor, this time going the Long Way Down; from John O’ Groats to Cape Town. Two more big adventures followed when he travelled solo ‘By Any Means‘ from Ireland to Sydney, and then a year later, Right to the Edge by any means, from Sydney to Tokyo.

Charley is now seen by many as one of the modern faces of TV adventuring. It’s a nice job if you can get it; earning a salary for being a global action man, and many young people today would sell their granny and her pension for that kind of exposure. But when he started his TV career, Charley wasn’t just a wannabe celebrity and he wasn’t new to the cameras. Although we hadn’t seen his face much on the small screen before Long Way Round, he was a child star of the big screen and had already spend much of his life moving around the world.

My father instilled that want to travel

Charley puts his love of travel down in part to his upbringing, “I feel very lucky in the fact that due to my father’s work as a film director I had the opportunity to travel from an early age all around the world on location for films such as Deliverance, Excalibur, Hope and Glory and Emerald Forest.” Charley explains. “I think he was the one that really installed that want to travel and I’ve been doing it ever since. I never dreamed that I would get to continue travelling as much as I have and I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to.”

Charley Boorman in By Any Means. Image:

Charley Boorman in By Any Means. Image:

Adventure’s an extremely important part of family life

It isn’t just travel that fires Charley up. As a child he was encouraged to ride and race motorcross cycles and he still rides a motorbike on a daily basis. He is seen in many circles as ‘the adventure rider.’ In turn, Charley has nurtured a love of bikes and the outdoors in his own daughters; Doone and Kinvara. “Adventure is an extremely important part of family life! My wife Olivia is pretty gung-ho and the girls are generally up for anything. They love dirt bikes and my family come to meet me at the end of my trips so they can see what I’ve been up to and we can embark on our own adventures together.”

Don’t be mean, write the cheque and let them go

As a strong believer in the power of adventure and its positive impact on family life, Charley would encourage any parents of teenagers to let them explore the world, even if it means paying for it, “Hundreds of kids are convincing their parents to let them go on gap years all over the world and you never hear much about any bad things that go on. There’s the occasional bizarre story but most of the people in the world are nice.” he says. “By travelling to America or Africa or Indonesia or wherever they may choose, they will come back with a much more rounded and realistic view of what’s going on around the world. So don’t be mean, write the cheque and let them go.”

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About the author

Kirstie Pelling

Kirstie is the Editor of The Family Adventure Project. A professional writer and poet, she's the creative and journalistic force behind many of the stories and features published here. She's a co-founder and co-director of The Family Adventure Project and also works as the #poetinmotion producing and performing poetry for print, video and live performance.

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We're Kirstie & Stuart. We share an adventurous spirit, a passion for indie travel and 3 kids. The Family Adventure Project is our long term experiment in doing active, adventurous things together. Find out more...


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