Angling Times is this week launching a campaign to get genuine fishing programmes back on terrestrial TV.
The call comes in a week when it emerged that Channel 5 had snubbed award-winning cameraman Hugh Miles’ and AT columnist Martin Bowler’s long-awaited series Catching the Impossible , yet commissioned a four-part ‘angling travelogue’ series with Soldier Soldier star Robson Green.
To add insult to injury, Hugh has also revealed that he has yet to receive any interest from the remaining terrestrial TV stations for his eight-part extravaganza, which has taken four-and-a-half years to film and received rave reviews at advance screenings.
And this week AT is urging all anglers to unite and lobby terrestrial television bosses to ensure Britain’s most popular sport is put back on our TVs.
Hugh, who has won three Baftas and numerous Emmy awards for his work, told Angling Times: “It’s sad that modern TV executives fail to see the huge potential that wellmade angling programmes have to attract big audiences in the UK – millions of viewers are missing out because of their lack of vision and courage.
“Fifteen years ago when we made A Passion for Angling, the BBC had the courage to give me my head. The success of that ser ies speaks volumes : audiences started at 1.7 million, and peaked at 6.3 million. The BBC showed it five times in seven years. With Catching the Impossible, I can barely get anyone to look at it.”
Angling legend John Wilson, who made 108 programmes in his ‘Go Fishing’ series, has been left speechless by the TV executives’ decision to shun Catching the Impossible in favour of ‘celebrity’ offerings.
“This makes me very disillusioned and angry. One of the best film makers in the world, and one of the UK’s leading fishermen, are being forced to go cap in hand to executives in a bid to get airtime for perhaps the most beautiful fishing and wildlife programme ever made. It’s no good the executives saying there’s no market for it – angling is our biggest participation sport!” said John.
“Robson Green is an actor, not a fisherman. What’s next? John Wilson presents ice skating? I’m just glad I’m 65 and not 35 because I wouldn’t stand a chance of making a living out of being a fishing TV presenter nowadays.”
Meanwhile, Five has defended its decision to go down the ‘celebrity’ route by saying they are trying to reach as wide a cross-section of viewers as possible, and not just anglers.
A spokesman said: ‘Robson is a perfect fit for the series because of his passion and knowledge of angling. The series is aimed at males of all ages, but the popularity of Robson will ensure it appeals to other target audiences. We are always looking at new ideas for the channel and will continue to do so once this series has been on air.’
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