Our hairiest trip yet! On their 3,000-mile odyssey in Americas Deep South, the Hairy Bikers rode well out of their comfort zone

Our hairiest trip yet! On their 3,000-mile odyssey in America’s Deep South, the Hairy Bikers rode well out of their comfort zone



22:49 GMT, 10 August 2012

Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton and The Everly Brothers are among the stars to have recorded hits at RCA's Studio B in Nashville, Tennessee.

Sadly, The Hairy Bikers seem unlikely to follow suit.

Si and Dave in New Orleans

Si and Dave in New Orleans

Resplendent in freshly acquired, 320 cowboy boots – crocodile-skinned in the case of Si King, alligator-skinned for Dave Myers – the Hairies are hoping that some of that Elvis magic will rub off on them, as they lay down a track at the studio.

It's part of their 3,000-mile Mississippi Adventure, a food and music pilgrimage alongside America's mightiest river, for the Good Food channel.

Although this diversion looks like it's ending in a cul-de-sac.

'Going up the Mississippi, we are big and fat and lippy,' sing the boys. 'Would you risk it for a biscuit, would you do it for a Chewit Just two old boys, having fun.'

The studio crew seems unimpressed. 'We asked the studio manager what he thought of us,' says Dave Myers later (he's the one from Cumbria with the black beard and glasses).

The Hairy Bikers take a 'bakeation' in the Netherlands

The Hairy Bikers take a 'bakeation' in the Netherlands

'He said, “Well I've heard worse – we've had lots of groups of schoolchildren recording songs in here.”'

It's a rare failure for the Hairies, who have quietly become the most prolific cookery act on TV since they first hit our screens in 2007.

Add to their list of shows live appearances, a shelf-full of cookery books and a range of ready meals for a major supermarket chain and you wonder when the chaps have had time to sleep.

And don't imagine they're about to let up. Already this month we've seen them shedding the flab for BBC2's Hairy Dieters: How To Love Food And Lose Weight, and after their Mississippi adventure, they will switch back to the BBC for a series called Everyday Gourmet.

So, any danger of overkill, Hairies 'The opportunity to appear on TV came relatively late in life for us and we want to make the most of it,' says Si, 44, the Geordie half of the Bikers.

'We'll continue to do what we do until the public get sick of us, and enjoy every second of it.

'Dave and I have to be two of the most over-stimulated humans on the planet.

Si and Dave on Hairy Bikers' Best of British

Si and Dave on Hairy Bikers' Best of British

Take this series in America. Every day we travel around on our Harley Davidsons, encountering wonderful music – jazz, blues, Cajun, country, soul and rock'n'roll – and cooking and eating the most delicious dishes of the Deep South, from pulled pork in Nashville to shrimp creole in Lafayette.

We’re like kids in a cake shop – or a fine restaurant.'

Adds Dave, 54: 'I suspect we might have gone off our heads if all this had happened when we were younger. But now we can fully appreciate how lucky we are.'

The pair met on the set of the Catherine Cookson ITV drama Gambling Man, in 1995. Si was assistant director and Dave a make-up artist.

Bonding over a mutual love of food and motorbikes, they were eventually invited to make a one-off programme on the culinary delights of Portugal for BBC2.

It was a hit, and their first series, Hairy Bikers' Cookbook, was commissioned in 2006.

The Bikers' light and comedic approach to cookery has been a winner with audiences ever since, even when it's been hiding deep, personal misery.

Si and Dave riding vintage motorbikes

Si and Dave riding vintage motorbikes

Says father-of-three Si: 'When we filmed The Hairy Bikers' Food Tour Of Britain in 2009, my mum had been diagnosed with dementia and was dying, and that was really tough.

'It doesn’t matter how old you are, seeing someone who has been so important in your life, so engaging, inspiring and articulate, disappearing in front of your eyes is extremely painful.

If you look closely at me in that series I'm not really there. I'm tired and I'm thinking about my mum, rather than focusing on the work. I'm not sure I'd have got through the series without Dave's help and support.'

Si was there for Dave when his fiance, TV script supervisor Glenys Howarth died from cancer 11 years ago, in the same year the Cumbrian underwent surgery to remove a benign cyst from his brain.

'Si picked up the pieces for me and of me,' says Dave. 'It was a dreadful year.'

Both have almost literally been in pieces after motorcycle accidents. Dave had to be 'bolted back together' after his motorbike hit a truck in 2006.

'I broke my wrist and damaged my shoulder and knees and was in a lot of pain. All that was left of the bike were the rev counter and speed dial.'

The Hairy Bikers take a pit stop for a seafood snack during BBC2's The Hairy Bikers Ride Again

The Hairy Bikers take a pit stop for a seafood snack during BBC2's The Hairy Bikers Ride Again

And Si suffered his own motorcycling nightmare three years ago, writing off his 14,000 Ducati motorbike in a collision with a car.

'The traffic managed to avoid me while I was lying in the road,' says Si. 'Otherwise I'd be dead.'

One can only assume that Dave and Si have wives who are able to cope with them disappearing for weeks on end making TV shows, not to mention risking their lives on high-performance motorbikes.

Even during the making of their Mississippi Adventure the couple had a hairy moment, almost getting marooned on their machines when the heavens dumped 16 inches of rain in just three hours in Lafayette, Louisiana.

'There were waves breaking over the bikes,' says Dave. 'We had to abandon them until the tide went out.'

So, how understanding are Janie King and Lilli Myers, who often have to be sole parents to the couples' children: stepchildren Sergiu, 21, and Iza, 17, in the case of Dave, sons Alex, 22, James, 19 and Dylan 12, in the case of Si

'Well, we were both away with previous jobs so our absences are not new,' says Si, who worked on Harry Potter movies The Chamber Of Secrets and The Philosopher's Stone.

'Although, of course, we are grateful that our other halves are so understanding and try to make up for our absences in whatever way we can,' Dave adds hastily.

'When I return from America, I'm taking Lilli on a luxury holiday. It's a guilt trip to placate her. I may not be able to impress her with a number-one hit, but I like to think I can still show her a good time.'

Hairy Bikers' Mississippi Adventure, Sunday 19 August, 9pm, Good Food.