Hairy Bikers' new show is flavour of the month
Wayne SavageGreat food, great stories and great company - The Hairy Bikers' new live show has all the ingredients for an entertaining night out, as we discover.Wayne Savage
'It's going to be really good crack. it'll be like coming out to have a great laugh with Si and me,' says David Myers, one half of The Hairy Bikers, who have hit the road for their first ever national tour.
The Hairy Bikers' Big Night Out, featuring Britain's best-loved culinary experts-cum-motorcyclists, comes to Norwich and King's Lynn this month. All the ingredients are there for a great evening - gripping stories from their past, anecdotes from their global adventures, enticing cookery demonstrations of recipes from around the world and a belly-full of laughs.
The chance to see the duo live has proved such a mouth-watering prospect that an extra 22 dates have been added.
While there's still a framework, albeit a different one to TV, to the live show they clearly love the spontaneity of it all ? despite not having the safety net of a telly edit to save them if things go wrong.
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David's cohort, Simon King, who hails from Newcastle, adds: 'It's our debut tour, so it's been a learning curve, that's for sure, but a fantastic one. It's great getting like 4.5million TV viewers but a live show gives you instant gratification.
'When you film, it's always deferred gratification. But when you're performing live, you can say to yourself 'did they laugh? Yes! Great'. That makes me feel really good! We like folk. Folk are generally brilliant.'
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David, who lives in Barrow on Furness, is just as thrilled.
'I love cooking in the street because you always meet so many fascinating people. One reason we want to do the stage show is to have that connection with people. When you're filming you don't connect with the audience in the same way.'
The two have left the bikes behind this time as they tour the country.
'It's not possible to do it [bike from venue to venue] because you have to be in some kind of fit state really because people have paid good money to see you. If you're riding 400 miles from one gig to the other you'd be knackered by the time you get to the gig. That's not fair for people who've paid to see you, you know? So unfortunately this time no,' laughs Simon.
The Hairy Bikers have fronted several smash-hit BBC2 programmes including The Hairy Bikers' Cookbook, The Hairy Bikers Ride Again, The Hairy Bikers Come Home and The Hairy Bakers, which cooked up ratings of more than four million in 2008. More recently, they were responsible for the massive, 30-part series The Hairy Bikers' Food Tour of Britain, The Hairy Bikers' Twelve Days of Christmas and Mum Knows Best, which has also gained enormous audiences.
During their adventures they have travelled the world hunting for authentic food and new cultural experiences. Audiences can expect a healthy serving of stories about far-flung places including Southern India, Turkey, Argentina, Romania and Mexico.
'We're very lucky with all that sort of stuff really,' adds Simon. 'We've had some fantastic experiences, both in terms of travel when we did The Hairy Bikers Abroad, The Hairy Bikers' Cook Book and The Hairy Bikers Ride Again.
'We've had some top cultural experiences, eaten some amazing food and met some fantastic people - too many highlights to mention really. We only did it for a giggle; it's been a very interesting journey for us both.'
Simon and David will also take a trip down memory lane during the night, sharing their baby photos and their never-before-seen first screen test for The Hairy Bikers TV Show. Of course, it wouldn't be a Hairy Bikers' show without some cooking.
Some lucky audience members will get the chance to sample the dishes at the end of two displays of how to prepare a three-course meal in 15 minutes. It's a part of the show that hasn't always gone down as expected.
'We cooked a Caroline king prawn curry and then had people say 'oh, I don't like prawns you know' and we've said 'well, if you don't like prawns what did you get up for'?' Simon laughs. 'And we've had somebody who was allergic to and hated the smell of coriander, but it's just a giggle and you make a laugh out of it.'
The duo had invaluable help staging the live show from their good friend, comedian Bob Mortimer.
'It's Bob's arena,' says Simon. 'He's so talented and has been very sharp about shaping the show and giving it a narrative. He's been instrumental in its production, helping us sort the wheat from the chaff.'
David chips in: 'Bob has made it a show rather than a collection of rambling stories! He's a great editor. He's used to crafting shows, so this will be a proper night out. Never fear - people will not feel short-changed.'
Simon says the show is really their journey from birth to bikers, with clips, audience participation and some of their favourite moments from their many programmes.
'You're going to be let in to some secrets about The Hairy Bikers you wouldn't ordinarily have known, too, and we've got some top cooking tips to take away with you as well.
'There's a load of recipes in the programme, too. Dave and I were very keen to make sure that people got something to take away with them from coming to see the show,' he adds.
The duo are just as charming, charismatic, compelling and comic off screen as they are on it; gifted with the two qualities we Brits prize above all others - modesty and a great sense of humour. It's easy to see why they hit it off with the people they meet on their travels.
Simon says: 'Dave and I have been friends for a very long time. We were doing trips together long before the cameras were there. I think there is a lot of integrity to our shows. People relate to us because we're just ordinary fellers. We're cooks, not chefs. There is a normality and a familiarity about us. People will have friends like Dave and me.
'The essence of it really is accessibility. You know, what you see on camera is what you get off camera with Dave and I. We're not pretending to be anybody we're not,'
'Si and I genuinely are mates. With us, what you see is what you get. Also, we've never done the same thing twice. In life, you want to keep changing and trying new things.
'We delight in diversification and I think the viewers do, too.
'Another thing is, we've never patronised people. For example, on Mums Know Best, we always let the mums speak for themselves. It's dead honest.'
Audiences certainly identify with The Hairy Bikers' way of doing things.
'We've been very lucky in our careers,' Simon adds.
'We've never done anything we didn't want to do. Every project has got to light our candle. We're not jobbing presenters - we're our own men.
'In this world we live in, it would be very easy to be cynical, but we're not made that way. We're not robots - we really like what we do. We're very positive about things and I hope people warm to that.
'We're great enthusiasts and food and travel are great mediums for that enthusiasm. There's already enough cynicism in the world and if two people refuse to be cynical, that's refreshing; long may it continue. If I ever become a rotund, miserable, cynical git, please do tell me,' he laughs.
'Look, food's great; let's celebrate it. We want people to have a go, try various ingredients and understand they're available - you can eat good food and it doesn't have to cost a fortune. It's about laughing and making it accessible to people.
'There's one thing everybody has to do, we all have to eat and you can make it miserable or you can make it a joyous occasion. I know that in my and Dave's households it's always a joyous occasion. There's nothing better than cooking for people you love.'
Food, adds David, is a globally comprehensive language; the biggest common denominator.
'Wherever you're from, it cuts through class, religion, race and nationality. There is some snobbery about food, but whether you're talking about filet mignon or fish and chips, the sensory pleasure of food is the same. It's something everyone can understand. It's universal,' he says.
With more TV shows in the offing - including what Simon calls a 'shiny floor show' set in the studio and a hush, hush Christmas special - the duo will be back in the area again later in the year at Harvest at Jimmy's.
They will be joining a tasty line-up of high profile chefs and bands at the farm's Festival of Food and Music from September 11-12, showing off their culinary skills.
'We'll keep going as long as people want to watch us,' says Simon. 'We're flavour of the month now. I'm sure when it stops we'll be like sucking sour plums!'
Ever self-deprecating, Simon adds: 'Tickets for The Hairy Bikers' Big Night Out are selling very well.
'There appears to be a great appetite for this show, which is very flattering. But we never take anything for granted. We're just grateful that people turn up!'
t The Hairy Bikers are at Norwich Theatre Royal on Monday May 3, tel 01603 630000, www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk, and the King's Lynn Corn Exchange on Thursday, May 13, tel 01553 764864.