The highly anticipated seven-part series for BBC Two is set to showcase the reunion of the dynamic duo, the Hairy Bikers, as they embark on a gastronomic journey down the picturesque west coast of the UK. Commencing their adventure in Scotland and concluding in Devon, the series promises an emotional homecoming for Dave, who will visit the county of his birth.
Throughout the series, Dave Myers and Si King will establish their base in breathtaking locations, delving into the diverse landscapes through the lens of local restaurants, delectable recipes, and the innovative ventures of emerging food entrepreneurs.
This culinary escapade is not only a nostalgic return to the regions where the bikers first crossed paths but also an exploration of new and unfamiliar territories. Covering a remarkable 600 miles, the duo will traverse through 10 glorious counties, starting from the west coast of Scotland, and continuing through Lancashire, Merseyside, North Wales, Bristol, before culminating their journey in Devon and Dorset.
Their travels will unveil hidden gems and showcase the vibrant tapestry of the west coast, with a keen focus on local producers championing the region’s rich diversity. The series will shed light on the future of food production and introduce a new generation of young farmers committed to sustainability.
The Hairy Bikers’ adventures will culminate in the creation of a range of mouth-watering recipes, such as Chicken Balmoral with truffle mash, poached lobster with Scottish Bucatini pasta, Lamb chop pakoras with traditional Persian rice, and Lancashire Butter and Potato Pie.
Don’t miss “The Hairy Bikers Go West” airing on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer on Tuesday 6 February at 7 pm, promising an exciting blend of culinary exploration and heartfelt connections.
Interview with Si King
Tell us about the joy of being back on the road again with your best friend? Why was this journey West even more special?
Dave is a west coast lad and we had a blast visiting some of his old haunts and our favourite places. Our focus, and particularly Dave’s focus, was to get out on the bike, to start the process of filming and to bring a level of normality back for him, his family, for me, for the crew, and that’s what he worked towards and that’s what got him through that particular portion of his treatment. It was so joyous because it’s Dave’s neck of the woods, it was great to visit some old haunts that we’d frequented both prior to the bikers as well as during the numerous series we’ve produced together. There was a lovely moment on the first day of filming where Dave overtook me on the road on the bikes and it was great, it was like ‘aw he’s back’. It was just like old times and over the comms he was going ‘Kingy, are you sure we’re going left here?’. That sort of dialogue was great and it’s what we’ve done over the last 20 years. It was really quite emotional.
In this series you talk about the beginnings of your friendship, why was it that you clicked so quickly with Dave and why has your friendship lasted several decades since?
We had similar interests, we were both food obsessives and loved motorcycles, and we love chatting to people. We’re inherently interested in storytelling, we’re interested in people’s stories. Dave and I are just a conduit for other people’s stories, whether that be around food, the anthropology of food, the social history of food, the cultural celebrations around food, the difference in landscapes and the humour that always brings. We are just two naturally inquisitive blokes and also naturally enthusiastic so there was always, right from the very beginning, a sound basis for a very long-term and fruitful friendship which is what we’ve had. We’re part of each other’s existences and lives, that doesn’t change off screen either. Yes, we give each other some space because we’ve been around the world four and a half times together and around the UK more times than I care to mention. In that sense it was always a fruitful friendship and still is.
This journey was a lot like going down memory lane for you both, what was it like visiting some of these places again and how did it make you feel?
It’s always quite nostalgic because you always go’ god, can you remember the last time we were here’, that’s just the very nature of travel when you go back to places. It doesn’t necessarily mean to say that you go back to those specific places but every single part of the country has its own character and personality and feel to it. What was lovely is, as always on the bikers, it’s the people that make it and their characters and personalities because it’s defined by the landscape in which they live. The east coast is different to the west, the north is different to the south, but the difference it always great fun and important. I’d forgotten that in Lancashire particularly you’ll see this really innocuous bungalow and at the back of it is 40 acres of some dude growing tomatoes. The market garden in that part of the world just blows me away. It always has but you can sometimes forget these things. There’s a guy who has tomatoes in hot houses and he supplies all the Michelin-starred restaurants and he literally lives in a tiny bungalow. That happened time and time again. There was a gingerbread manufacturer who produced the old-fashioned gingerbread of that area, there’s that social history the community is still trying to maintain which is enormously important because it’s something for communities to hold on to in this modern world. It’s a sense of identity, a sense of place, and who they are as a community and where they fit in the wider world.
What are some of your earliest memories of the west coast of Scotland where you first became really close friends with Dave?
Dave was a makeup artist at the time and I had two young sons, and Dylan was about four-week-old when we piled up in the car to the caravan. Dave had one caravan and I had the other. We went fishing, caught a load of mackerel and thought what the bloody Norah are we going to bloody do with this, then cooked them and everyone had mackerel from the barbecue. It’s just time, that’s what you do as mates, you get together and have a good craic. It was lovely to revisit that energy and atmosphere.
What was it like returning to Lancashire for this series and how emotional was it for Dave returning to his home turf?
The landscapes defines you and Dave is definitely a Lancashire lad, albeit Cumbria, because they changed the boundaries. I think he identifies pretty strongly with both, it was really emotionally in the sense that Dave was incredibly nostalgic about his parents and about his life in Lancashire as a young boy, and him leaving for university in London. We talk a lot about going to Lancaster University to watch gigs. Dave was massively, as I am, into his music so it was great that he went to gigs there – it was all that sort of craic. Rediscovering the food but on camera was brilliant. Also, to see how the food scene had moved to see how very important it is. Moor Hall springs to mind, a remarkable restaurant and hotel, the produce is extremely seasonal and it’s all from the garden which is immaculate. Everything from a burger all the way through to two Michelin stars was wonderful, Lancashire has a very strong presence in the food scene.
From truffle mash to Scottish Bucatini pasta, can you tell us more about some of the amazing dishes you cooked this series which are a real eclectic mixed bag?
We wanted to reflect the eclectic nature of the west coast and its produce. The Bucatini is a great product and it’s really tasty and it’s Scottish, it was beautifully done. The Chicken Balmoral is a lovely traditionally recipe. It was inhaled rather than eaten by the crew. What we were trying to do is show how electric the food scene is. On the continent there is still this odd attitude towards British food in the sense that they say ‘did you eat well?’. The food is fantastic, it’s of a high quality and mostly very beautifully cooked but there’s still that level of surprise, it’s bizarre. There are very few places in the world that you can eat around the world in most provincial towns and cities in the country.
What are some of the best hidden gems you discover in this series and why will viewers love them?
One of them for me is the market gardens, it blew me away and continues to do so. The absolute beauty of Bute and the community there too. The Loch Arthur Camphill Community in Dumfries and Galloway, it fundamentally gives people a chance with learning difficulties to have a normal and functional life of contribution to their society. What a hidden gem that is, everything that the residents produce there is just off the scale, the cheese, the dairy, it’s just wonderful and such a beautiful thing. As a series it’s exactly that, we have a great team and the narratives and storylines that weave its way through the series both generally and specifically are amazing, we’re very proud of it.
Can you tell us about any candid moments you shared with Dave during the filming of this series? Do any stick out in your mind?
It’s a series that we will always remember, not that we won’t remember others. We are very privileged to do what we do and I think this one was particularly special in general because of Dave’s health and his sheer and utter determination and love for what he does. Especially to continue to do it while he was having treatment took remarkable courage and energy – and adds to why Dave and I will not forget it. There were some very lovely moments, the atmosphere throughout the series was exactly that. There wasn’t one particular moment. The series being gentle and knowing was the whole sub-narrative, it was a celebration of a joyous and creative friendship.
What are the most important messages you will take away from this series?
Friendship, kindness, the humanity of things and how great the producers and every contributor to this show was. They were so generous to us in all sorts of ways. The generosity of spirit from everyone that was involved in the series was an absolute joy to be in receipt of. The levels of support and kindness that Dave and I were shown all the way through the series was also fantastic.
Go West sees you both travel around the west coast of the UK, why did you choose these locations?
We had some connection to them in our shared histories, that was the main reason. Dave is from the west coast so fundamentally that’s why we went.
Throughout the history of your cooking programmes you’ve travelled the length and breadth of the country, if you had to pick your top six unexpected foodie hotspots in the UK which regions would you choose and what makes each of the six so special?
- Cumbria and Lancashire because of the produce
- Northumberland for the seafood and landscapes
- Lincolnshire for the flat lands and growers
- The west coast of Scotland for the people, landscapes, and beef and dairy
- North Wales for produce, landscapes and levels of creativity around food – it’s culturally very eclectic
- In Bristol it was culturally incredibly electric, just great food, a real mix of cuisines
The spirit of the west was interesting in the sense that people are just giving it a go. It didn’t matter what the economic climate was or what the projections of the economic climate was or is going to be, if you have a great idea or a dream of being able to do something and you have the courage to take the opportunity and to support your own idea, there were a lot of people who were very entrepreneurial in that sense around the food industry and they were making a go of it. I think that was particularly the case in Devon and that area in Dorset.