Al Gordon meets Dave Myers and Si King, aka the Hairy Bikers – or should that be the Hairy Bakers?
Si and Dave are the lovably hirsute duo who became a surprise overnight sensation thanks to their down-to-earth devotion for all things ‘grub’. From The Hairy Bikers do Portugal, the pilot that launched them on a hungry British tv audience, to their current offering, The Hairy Bikers’ Bakeation, the pair have mixed their shared enjoyment of both motorbikes and food in a quirky and highly successful manner…
…but that could soon be coming to an end, if recent rumours have any truth. Reports suggest that they are soon to split, with Si King looking to move out of the spotlight so that he can concentrate on his business enterprises. Thankfully, the foodies – who gained a rea cult following with their series including Hairy Bikers Cookbook, Mums Know Best and Food Tour of Britain – are quick to scotch these claims.
“Why, oh why, would I want to break up the Bikers?” King (the blond one) fires back at once. “I get to work with my best mate every day, travelling the world, sampling the best food you can find, and I get paid for it! Only a crazy person would walk away from such a sweet deal.”
“And to be fair,” darker-haired partner-in-crime Dave Myers chips in straight away, “any couple in the press has speculation about their relationship, and clearly we’re no different. Like Brad and Angelina, we are.”
The Bikers, who recently became Bakers for their latest series Bakeation (a pastry-based freewheeling odyssey across Europe), have seen their popularity swell in recent years, with companies clambering to sign them up to lucrative sponsorship deals. Last year, for example, they brought out a range of chilled prepared meals in Tesco stores: their own recipes (including Si's Mam's Cottage Pie) with a little twist, of course. Fortunately, they haven’t allowed their celebrity status to affect the way that they go about their profession, with each quick to knock the other down should one get a little big for his size 11s.
“We hardly have fans running after us down the street,” Myers laughs, “but the last couple of years have been very good to us and long may it continue. And I don’t think either of us will ever get above our station; I just couldn’t see that happening, to be honest and, if it did, the other would sort that out.”
King and Myers have known each other for nearly 20 years. They met, bizarrely, on the set of a television adaptation of a Catherine Cookson novel (King was a location manager; Myers a make-up artist, specialising in prosthetics) and have been mates ever since. It seems a very harmonious relationship…?
“We had a big row over mayonnaise once,” Si chuckles. “I don’t think mayonnaise should be made with olive oil and he does. That’s really the biggest row we’ve had which is probably a very good sign!”
“Si does annoy the pants off me though,” Dave interjects. “He sucks his teeth a lot when he’s thinking, although he’s stopped doing that as much recently. But he used to always do it on the phone – I could just hear this sucking noise coming down from the other end; it gave me the creeps. Another one is when he lifts his pint of beer up and the beer mat is stuck to the bottom of the glass. That annoys the hell out of me!”
Away from pub politics, the Bikers have just signed on the dotted line for their new project, Mississippi Adventure, for UKTV food channel Good Food. The six-part series will see them explore the length of the Mississippi River in America’s Deep South in pursuit of the roots of soul food and Southern music.
And they’re really looking forward to it. “We are over-excited, to say the least, about our trip to Mississippi: the mix of music, food and motorcycles goes back to the very foundation of the Hairy Bikers,” Dave says. “The series promises to be a journey of discovery into the culture of an incredible place.”
Each episode will be themed in a different Southern music genre – jazz, blues, cajun, country and western, soul and rock ‘n’ roll – looking at the locations and food stories that have helped define them.
King explains: “We visit New Orleans for blues and Tamales, Memphis for a soul stew and fried chicken. Then Nashville for country and western, sampling pork, and Lafayette in Louisiana for cajun music and shrimp creole. Living the true spirit of an American road movie, we set out on Harley Davidsons to cover more than 3,000 miles of American tarmac. It feels good to be on the road again. Now that’s our kind of road trip...”
The Hairy Bikers’ Bakeation can be seen on BBC2 on Tuesday nights at 8pm.