Friday 16 September 2022

Mortimer & Whitehouse: Love and Death

 Talking of the river Dee (the Welsh Dee, that is), Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse were on its beautiful banks in the first of a new series of Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Fishing tonight. Some people avoid this programme because they think it's about fishing. It isn't, although they do catch some fish (and release them unharmed) and what ostensibly draws them together on these little expeditions is the thrill of catching particular fish. But, as so often in male friendships, the fishing is, as Gary Louris said of his band Golden Smog, a way of expressing their mutual love without embarrassing themselves by saying 'I love you'. Gone Fishing is a show about love and death. As well as the obvious love between the endlessly engaging, accommodating Bob and the more difficult and prickly Paul, the whole thing, for all the joking and banter, takes place in the shadow – not yet long, not yet dark – of death: both men have had serious medical crises, and both are aware of the advancing years (they are in their sixties). This, unlike the love, is overtly recognised and discussed in the show's more serious moments, which are never long and usually defused by a joke, but always make their mark. Brilliantly edited and beautifully filmed, Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Fishing is one of the best things on television. If you haven't, do give it a try. 


  1. In American popular culture, "Gone Fishing" is a sign that proprietors put up in the window when they will be away for their own amusement, whether fishing or doing something else. Does it have the same connotation in Great Britain?

  2. Yes George, I think something of that connotation has rubbed off. There's that song too, isn't there? Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong...