WATCH: ‘4 Days to Save the world’ was a reality show with big ambitions. See a preview of the Star’s investigation.
It was a cold and rainy day in London in the spring of 1987. The BBC’s four-day, 60-episode “4 Days to Save the world” documentary had just wrapped its run in the US — and had just come out on home video — when four Britons in their early 30s, all friends in college and university, began a five-day cycling trip on a flat, flat-bottomed bicycle across England, as a project for the BBC’s “Risk” series.
“We were all young at the time, all good students. We had no car, we had no idea about how to drive across the country. When we got to Wales — our first destination — I said, ‘That’s it, we’ve got to ride across England,’” recalls one of the participants, Jonathan Wardlow. “So we all piled back on board our bikes and pedaled to Edinburgh. The first couple of days we were very poor. I had two £10 notes in my pocket.”
The next morning, with the group’s bicycles packed into the back of the van, they rode from Edinburgh to London and back. “The only way to get from Edinburgh to London was by bike — it was an all-weather road,” recalls Wardlow. “I went through London on the bikes and after two days I fell in love with the country. There were so many beautiful flowers — I’d never seen anything like that. I’d never been on a bike before, so the freedom was incredible. I loved the freedom of it.”
As the group approached London, Wardlow’s father, who was a minister in the local church, made him hand over the keys to their van so he could make the drive in to Wales. “I didn’t have a ticket so I was terrified,” Wardlow recalls, “but they made me give him