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Last Updated: Sunday, 10 October, 2004, 11:32 GMT 12:32 UK
Odyssey on bikes
On Sunday, 10, October 2004, Sir David Frost interviewed Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman

Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used.

Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman
Actors Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman

DAVID FROST: Well now to take three months off work and travel around the world by motorbike must be the dream of many young men, and that's exactly what two great actors have managed to do.

Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman have just done that.

They set out from London, eventually reaching Europe but via the land route which means via Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Canada, etc. How many countries altogether did you go through, did you think?

EWAN McGREGOR: Twelve countries.

DAVID FROST: Twelve countries, that's right.

And it was more than just a road trip, it was a life-changing experience, the result of which Ewan has just been appointed an UNICEF ambassador.

You came in touch with UNICEF on the trip really, didn't you? You didn't set off on this trip for UNICEF, ....

EWAN McGREGOR: No, we wanted some kind of involvement and we're both fathers we both have children, we wanted it to be a children's body that helped children, so we ended up getting in touch with UNICEF and they organised for us to visit three of their projects along the route of the trip - one in Kiev, one in Kazakhstan in a town called Almati, and then one in Ulan Bator, the capital of Mongolia.

DAVID FROST: The Mongolia one sounds very dramatic Charley?

CHARLEY BOORMAN: Yeah it is, they have the most difficulties there, with the poverty, with alcoholism and stuff like that, and so a lot of children end up living on the streets and because it's so cold there they end up living in the sewers.

And so UNICEF were there to help the children and to try and work out a structure with the government to change government policy against, you know, how they used to look at children, to change it so that it's more for the children, more proactive for children.

Because there is prostitution on children, there's alcohol abuse on children and so on and so forth.

DAVID FROST: And you've brought out a splendid tome here, called Long Way Round which, as I said earlier, shows you chasing shadows across the world. And people who write about this, you would say that it was a life-changing experience for you. What really hits you on the trip?

EWAN McGREGOR: I mean, I think the UNICEF projects were really kind of pinnacles of poignancy for us on the trip, you know.

But really just the people that we met from leaving London to arriving in New York, all the people that we met along the way, and 99% of the people we met were really enthusiastic, generous, supportive people. And one thing that we could always rely on when we got in trouble is that somebody would turn up to help us.

And I was really struck by that, it was a real, it was a real optimistic view of the world that we had, you know. And it was difficult to come back, to get back to London and hear some of the terrible things that are happening elsewhere in the world.

But our experience was that of generous, lovely people, who all care for their children and looked after travellers such as ourselves.

DAVID FROST: And you had, three months of the trip, you had four months of preparing for the trip. What sort of training did you have to do, just simply carrying the kit, or what?

CHARLEY BOORMAN: Yes, well we went to various things. One, we had to choose what kind of equipment we were going to take with us, and then we had to, we did a course called environment training by a group called Objective, and they train a lot of journalists who go into hot areas.

And they just told us about how to react in border crossings and checkpoints, and you just had to look after yourself to make sure that you were aware of your surroundings so that you don't get ripped off or anything like like.

EWAN McGREGOR: And out of trouble.

DAVID FROST: And so, now is it going to be almost prosaic getting back to acting?

EWAN McGREGOR: No, I mean...

DAVID FROST: Or being a megastar as they say.

EWAN McGREGOR: (laughter) No, I'm really looking forward to it. But funnily enough when we left, when we set off I'd worked very, very hard last year and had very little time off and I was just tired I think. And I really wanted a change of pace and a change of scenery which Charley and I both got, you know, in bucketloads, every day.

DAVID FROST: Every day.

EWAN McGREGOR: Every day - but you know, but I'm now, it's rejuvenated me and I'm ready to go back to work, I really am.

DAVID FROST: Well it's great to have you hear. Good luck with the UNICEF campaign and so on, and good luck with the book Long Way Round which is also going to be read on Book at Bedtime. You've made it Book at Bedtime.

EWAN McGREGOR: I know, we've really made it then.


NB: this transcript was typed from a recording and not copied from an original script.

Because of the possibility of mis-hearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, the BBC cannot vouch for its accuracy.


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