You don’t need to love fishing to appreciate ‘Gone Fishing’s’ simple beauty. Perhaps just an appreciation of Britain’s breathtaking countryside and waterways, or a warm affinity with a colourful camaraderie between two old friends. Failing that, just a gentle soul should suffice.
Granted, it won’t be absolutely everyone’s flask of tea , and perhaps if you are under the age of 20, have never fished, and are also completely unfamiliar with the not insignificant respective back catalogue of the programme’s two protagonists within the arena of comedy and entertainment, then indeed, it may not catch your attention enough for you to allow yourself to fall under its charm. But, as I swear I’ve heard somewhere before, the programme is not really about catching fish.
“Look to your health; and if you have it, praise God and value it next to conscience; for health is the second blessing that we mortals are capable of, a blessing money can’t buy.” – Izaak Walton
The series (now in it’s third season) started out for the two friends, as a vehicle for them to compare and share their life changing experiences, stemming from a pivotal time in their lives when, within a few years of each other, both underwent a series of major surgeries due to heart related illnesses.
Many of the filming locations are a wistful trip down memory lane, revisiting childhood haunts, primarily for Paul (the true, seasoned angler and long-suffering mentor to Bob and his child-like exuberance in his eagerness to learn more about the pastime and the different fish they pursue each week). Bob’s role, in addition to instigating some of the more irreverent banter and providing regular pratfalls, is the organising of the couple’s (usually highly varied and often unconventional) nightly accommodation and accompanying culinary creations.
What Mortimer, Whitehouse and the production crew have actually created is a wonderfully picturesque bromantic field trip, while all-too-fleetingly tackling topics from the puerile to the profound, but both with equal measures of rigour and candour.
The show is like a real life ‘Detectorists’, but where the hidden bounties they are attempting to uncover are not just their elusive piscine quarry but perhaps the slightly more intangible answers to the age-old questions surrounding life, love, loss and our own mortality.
Mortimer and Whitehouse: Gone Fishing – available on BBC 2 i-player