COMEDY duo Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse have been promoting their new brilliant book from their TV series Gone Fishing. Dave Petch caught up with them with Angler's Mail…

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COMEDIANS Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse are delighted that their popular BBC2 TV series, Mortimer and Whitehouse: Gone Fishing, has been nominated for a coveted BAFTA award.

Show consultant, John Bailey, revealed in Angler’s Mail magazine that Mortimer and Whitehouse: Gone Fishing is up for a ‘BAFTA’ (British Academy Television Awards).

The glitzy awards ceremony will be held at London’s Royal Festival Hall on this Sunday, May 12.

It will be broadcast on BBC1 on the night of the ceremony, from 8pm.

The ceremony is not broadcast live, but instead shown on a delay in an edited-down version.

The awards will also be available to stream on BBC iPlayer.

Paul, 60, told Angler’s Mail: “It’s the first TV show about fishing that has been recognised in this way by BAFTA.

“I know our fishing consultant John Bailey is totally made up about an angling show achieving such success, particularly professionally for him and for angling generally.

“Whatever you might think about the show from the pure angling perspective, it just wouldn’t have been so successful with the public if it had concentrated more on the technical aspects. Who really wants to know about helicopter and zig rigs?

“The focus was on us two old guys who have had heart problems getting out there, enjoying the sport, the countryside, and each others company, almost reliving our childhoods, and it struck a chord with viewers.

“I don’t want to get too spiritual about it but today’s life is so frantic and we can get caught up in all the things we have to do, and fishing is the one thing that gets you away from it all.

“I was introduced to it by my dad on the River Lea in North London. I fished with him right through his life, taking him on his last session to the River Test when he was in his early 80s and in a wheelchair, although sadly he blanked.

“I’ve fished ever since, more game than coarse, and fishing has changed a lot over the years.

“Nowadays you can catch a train up north and pass many canals and rivers and never see anyone fishing, but you see small commercial fisheries that are full.

“I much prefer fishing wild rivers, but it’s great if commercials get youngsters hooked on the sport.

“As they say, at first you want to catch a fish, then as many as possible, then bigger fish, then specimens and finally you may not even be bothered about catching any at all.

“Of course nowadays it’s a lot about the equipment but as Chris Yates told me, the fishermen have changed but the carp haven’t.

“I’ve had some great catches in my time including a 30 lb salmon from the Dee, with many others over 20, but my favourite fish was a wonderful glistening silver trout of 12 lb I had in Iceland.

“I’ve also had a 6 lb chub caught while pike fishing with sprats at Dobbs Weir, and pike to 26 lb.

“The best pike though was a 21-pounder on a fly on the River Test at Broadlands with John Hall – we were fishing with huge flies right into the bank and boy did it shoot off.

“During the (first series) programmes my best catch was the barbel of 12 lb plus some nice chub I had on the Wye.

“And the most memorable was when we were bass fishing off the Needles on the Isle of Wight, and I had a 9-10 lb specimen on the very last cast.

“We have already filmed the second series, and it is just going through the editing process but we are not sure when it will be coming out – probably sometime over the summer.

“The first series came out just after the World Cup and maybe there was a bit of a crossover with a lot of blokes used to watching the football, then watching fishing,” Paul concluded.

Bob Mortimer enjoys angling return

Bob Mortimer is the novice angler in Mortimer and Whitehouse: Gone Fishing – but he still loves the sport.

Bob told Angler’s Mail: “I went fishing as a lad with me mates but it was more of a casual pastime that we all did on a day out in the country.

“I was brought up in Middlesbrough and although it was an industrial town, lovely countryside was only a short bike ride away.

“I had a cheap fibre-glass rod bought in a kit from Woolworths and a float with size 16 hooks and I just bunged the float in.

“I never continued with it as a hobby and doing this programme really re-connected me with the countryside that I had lost touch with, and to me it is still all about a great day out, going to wild places like when we were kids.

“I really loved a trip we had to Monsal Dale to fish the Derbyshire Derwent – it had a real wow factor, but you only have to turn left and you are in Sheffield.

“I can completely absorb myself in fishing unlike anything else, particularly watching a float, which I can do for several hours and it seems like ten minutes.

“There’s nothing to beat watching a float lifting and sliding away while sat by the water’s edge on a warm sunny day.

“Who knows, if I tried modern carp fishing I might get into the boilies and all the technicalities, but I like to keep it simple with natural baits like the good old worm which can catch anything.

“Paul and I went back to the Derwent and had a magical experience watching two barbel that were real pigs, easily doubles, spawning on the gravel shallows.

“I’m suggesting we should book a night at the Peacock Inn for June 16 and go after them – Paul reckons some rolled luncheon meat in any deeper holes nearby could tempt them out.

“Fishing is traditionally seen as a male pursuit but the show did have a lot of female fans – I have had a lot of comments from anglers saying its the only fishing show their wife has ever watched with them.

“I’ve loved making the programmes and being nominated for a BAFTA is like the icing on the cake,” Bob concluded.

Future angling show?

Bob Mortimer would love to do another angling TV show – this time combined with travel.

The 59-year-old caught a PB pike of 28 lb 8 oz during sessions for the first Mortimer and Whitehouse: Gone Fishing series.

Bob said: “I was only reading the other day about being able to take a boat down the River Wye for 140 miles – it would be great doing that and filming us fishing along the way.

“I reckon we would need a canoe for some of it but we could row in places.”

“There would be quite a few species – chub, barbel and trout.”

Paul added: “The Wye gets deeper lower down and we could do all types of fishing on the way – float, leger, fly and lure.”

“It’s a great mixed fishery and there’s grayling, and even the odd salmon, plus some whopping pike, and I believe some big perch.

“I could possibly even remember spots I fished when I was young, as I used to come to the Wye with my dad.”

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