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You don’t have to be a biking fanatic to enjoy the starring roles taken by classic motorcycles on TV soaps, cop shows and documentaries.
They have starred in all manner of shows from Eastenders to classic travel programmes such as David Beckham’s Into the Unknown. The freethinking insurance experts at Bikesure have been taking another look at their favourites.
Classic motorcycles on TV cop shows
We’ll kick-start this trip down memory lane with Boon the 80s and early 90s drama about the life of newly retired firefighter and latter day crime buster Ken Boon.
With Michael Elphick in the title role, it also featured David Daker and later Neil Morrissey, but the real star was the red and silver BSA A65 “White Lightning” 650cc motorbike he rode.
Before that, there was CHiPs, an American show about two darlings of the California Highway Patrol. It was a mashed up action/comedy/crime/soap, which aired from 1977-1983.
Have a look at its original opening credits for some classic American cheese from its stars Erik Estrada as macho Officer Francis “Ponch” Poncherello and Larry Wilcox as his strait-laced partner, Officer Jon Baker.
Do your remember what motorcycle our heroes drove in CHiPs? They were Kawasaki KZPs just like the real California Highway Patrol officers of the era.
Classic motorcycles on TV soaps?
The Eastenders character Mark Fowler regularly drove his motorcycle around Albert Square and he was rarely seen without his leather biker jacket. As a fitting tribute his final scene in the soap showed him riding off into the proverbial sunset.
Mark was played by David Scarboro when the series began in February 1985 but was recast in 1990 with Todd Carty of Grange Hill fame taking the role. But what was the Fowler growler? His bikes of choice were a Yamaha R6 and a Honda 250 Superdream.
Heartbeat was a British police soap set in 1960s North Riding of Yorkshire and it was broadcast on ITV in 18 series between 1992 and 2010.
A mix of nostalgia and soft crime, and featuring a sixties soundtrack, the cast was constantly changing and featured the likes of Nick Berry, Gwen Taylor, Derek Fowlds and Bill Maynard.
Classic motorcycles on TV documentaries
Billy Connelly’s Route 66 featured the Big Yin riding a Harley Davidson trike the entire length of the 2,488-mile (4,004 km) “66”. During the epic road trip he offered an interesting, historical perspective on the USA, distanced from but equally fascinated by the culture as a non-American.
The series was shot between April and June 2011 – slightly longer than planned because Connelly had an unfortunate spill near Arizona. That resulted in a week-long stay in hospital as he nursed a broken rib and a gashed knee.
Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman took motorbike travel television to new extremes by filming the ultimate journey from London to New York via Euro-Asia in Long Way Round.
The pair drove modified BMW R1200GS Adventure all-terrain motorcycles equipped with cameras, microphones and display/viewfinder screens mounted on the dashboards along with a customised GPS.
Viewers liked it so much that there was a follow-up, Long Way Down, in which the biker-duo rode from John O’Groats in Scotland to Cape Town in South Africa.
And coming in seventh, appropriately because he wore the No7 shirt, is former Manchester United, Real Madrid and England footballer-cum-fashion icon David Beckham. He got in on the act with his extreme motorcycle adventure, Into the Unknown during which he motorcycled around Brazil, from city to rain forest, with a group of pals.
His motorbike of choice was a custom Triumph which, according to the bike manufacturer’s website, was “part Bonneville, part Scrambler, part desert-sled, part something completely new”. Either way, it was pretty special.
Classic Bike Insurance is available from Bikesure.
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