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‘Gone Fishing’ stars Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse on their new adventures!

Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse in North Uist in Series 4 of Gone Fishing.
Reeling in the years... Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse in North Uist in Series 4 of Gone Fishing. (Image credit: BBC/Owl Power/Sam Gibson)

Gone Fishing is back for a fourth series!

In 2018 Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse launched their fishing and friendship travelogue, Gone Fishing. It immediately captured the imagination of viewers with its combination of beautiful rural settings and gentle, good-humoured conversations. 

Now, four years down the line, the lifelong friends are back with another outing of BBC2’s Sunday night hit

We caught up with Bob Mortimer, 62, and Paul Whitehouse, 63, to find out more about the new six-part series…

Gone Fishing. When and where is it on?

Series 4 of Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Fishing is made up of six episodes and starts on Sunday 28 August 2021 at 8pm on BBC2. 

It will be available on BBC iPlayer afterwards. 

Congrats on more Gone Fishing. Are you surprised to have reached series four?

Bob Mortimer: "In TV it’s always a surprise. Maybe this is what we’ll be remembered for, rather than the stuff we actually put a bit of effort into!"

Paul Whitehouse: "We’ve done more series of Gone Fishing than I did of The Fast Show. We only did three series and a few specials of that. It’s strange to think that. This is very different to anything we did before. It has a bit of depth to it, or seems to! And we’ve got the backdrop of the great British countryside to fall back on."

Bob: "And Ted the dog!"

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Is Ted back then?

Bob: "Yeah, we’ve allowed Ted in a bit more this time - people seem to enjoy him. He’s always mucking about. He doesn’t like Paul much…"

Paul: "He doesn’t really. I feel slightly gutted because I’m a bit of a dog whisperer. I think I’m really down with the canines, but Ted’s ambivalent towards me. He’s like a cat. He pops in, has a little look, wanders off, comes back! But we like him for that; his independent spirit."

Bob Mortimer fishing on the rocks North Uist in Series 4 of Gone Fishing.

The fall guy. Bob Mortimer on the rocks North Uist. (Image credit: BBC/Owl Power/Lisa Clark)

The series opens in North Uist in the Outer Hebrides. Was it breathtaking?

Bob: "North Uist is elemental, rugged, dramatic. A real adventure…"

Paul: "We had an intense [fishing] session on a little channel. The landscape was all seaweed, so you know at another time of day that it’s a flooded sea lock, yet when the tide is out it becomes a place where the sea trout run up. It felt very lonely in a place that had been fished like that for centuries. It was something special. Also, Bob does the slowest walk over some rocks…"

Bob: [Laughing] "I could see that they wanted me to fall. And I was so determined not to, because they were all waiting for it!"

Where else do you go during the series?

Paul: "In episode two we go to Burghley House [a 16th Century estate in Lincolnshire]. We make sure we keep one eye on accessibility for people, but Burghley was a slight exception because that lake doesn’t get fished very often. But we can’t be too elitist, so we go to places where anyone can come here."

Bob: "Burghley was nice. The Lakes [episode three] is my favourite. We met my old school friend, who I used to fish with there. The Norfolk Broads [episode four] had a nice sort-of 1970s feel. We’ve stayed in some lovely places, as achingly beautiful as Burghley and the Lakes or as rugged as Wales [episode five]. The show’s the same every week so that’s the only thing we can control, really! Contrasting locations bring out different conversations as well."

Paul: "Also the fish that live in one part of the world don’t exist in others. We went to the River Severn too and met up with Charlie Cooper from This Country, because he lives down that way. He’s absolutely passionate about fishing. More so than us, ain’t he Bob?"

Bob: "He has that youthful intensity!"

Charlie Copper as Lee 'Kurtan' Mucklowe in BAFTA-winning comedy This Country.

Charlie Copper as Lee 'Kurtan' Mucklowe in BAFTA-winning comedy This Country. (Image credit: BBC/Sophie Mutevelian)

What has been your best catch this series?

Paul: "It was lovely to get those sea trout from Uist, they’re a special fish. I catch a beautiful tench in Burghley, it’s a cracker. A golden, beautiful creature and very big but, Bob, take it away…"

Bob: "I caught a minnow in Wales and we’re pretty sure it’s the biggest minnow ever caught in these isles. We didn’t weigh it or measure it but we’ve got a picture of it."  

Is there anywhere you’d like to go for the fifth series of Gone Fishing?

Paul: "I’d like to do a bit more sea fishing, Bob."

Bob: "Ahh, interesting. Is it because you’d like to see me sick on a boat?"

Paul: [Laughing] "Well, I'm very happy to do it from the bank. We did a bit recently, but it wasn't very successful."

Bob: "I would like to get English salmon, because they're beginning to think they don't exist."

Paul: "There's not many..."

Do you worry about the future of British waterways?

Paul: "Actually, we mention it on the River Severn when we meet Charlie because there’d been a lot of heavy rain. When there’s a heavy flood agricultural pollution - all the chemicals and fertilisers used in the fields - run off into the rivers and washes these chemicals straight in. At best it sickens the river. At worst, it de-oxygenises the river, causing the death of the invertebrate life that all the fish and birds feed on. It's a bit difficult for us to talk at length about those kinds of things on the show - it’s about showcasing the beauty of the place - but it's a real issue."

Bob: "When I first discovered the Wye with you Paul, I was gobsmacked. It’s paradise. Then to find out just three or four years later that it's dying… You trust that something's being done, there are some guardians of it, but there’s nobody who seems to want to do anything about it. We said on the show, the sad thing is something will be done when it is dead, when there’s no oxygen left in it..."

Paul: "The very people who should be looking after our waterways, the water companies, are the worst offenders - they discharge raw sewage. It’s starting to get on the agenda - Feargal Sharkey [best-known as the lead singer of The Undertones] is a lone voice. He's great. But we should weigh in a bit more, Bob and I. Talking to you about the show is the exact place we should be discussing this. Take a river like the Wye. It's one of our most beautiful rivers and it’s dying a death. It seems extraordinary, that we can all just carry on with these precious places dying around us. Nobody is for pollution, yet we all allow it to happen on our doorsteps."

Is there anything you’d like to feature more of in the show?

Paul: "Often when we're looking at edits, I wish we talked less. Can we have a bit more silence, just the two of us sitting and let the places speak for themselves? 

"Water has an extraordinary quality when you're sat next to it. Gradually your mindset changes. Sometimes we should shut up, shouldn’t we Bob? But one of us can't bloody help saying something!"

Bob: "That’s the showoff in us! We just drone on. When it becomes too dull the editor cuts to a swan."

The new six-part series of Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Fishing airs on Sunday 28 August 2021 at 8pm on BBC2 and is available in BBC iPlayer afterwards.