It’s not always easy to be objective about something you’ve been close to from idea right through to completion. You can, in fact, over-compensate in your attempts to appear impartial, finding fault where none exists, tempering enthusiasm in a bid to remain unbiased. I know, because in the case of Catching the Impossible I’ve done it.
Now, though, the guard can come down. It might not be good journalistic practice for me, a friend of both Martin Bowler and Hugh Miles and editor of the book that accompanied the series, to comment on the show, because I’m hardly likely to be even-handed. But to hell with it. I’ve sat on the fence too long. It’s high time I said what I really think.
Frankly, the news that, at last, it is to find a home on terrestrial television is - and I feel no need to qualify this at all - the best thing to happen to the sport in years. I really do think it’s that significant.
Fishing is about to enjoy the kind of widespread publicity that money alone cannot buy, and all of angling - from the tackle industry through to the fisheries and the rest of us in between - will be winners. Catching’s glow will be strong enough to warm all of the sport’s many hands.
Reaching this point has been one hell of a journey. Quite apart from the challenge of fulfilling the title and catching the ‘impossibles’, the filming and editing took four years. And since completion there has come the rollercoaster ride of dealing with programme commissioners at the TV stations. The satellite channels couldn’t wait to get their hands on it ¬ unsurprising, given the low production values of most of the angling shows currently filling up air-time ¬ but terrestrial television needed more convincing.
First they wanted it, then they didn’t, then they did again. They really have been that fickle.
That the green light was finally given is a huge endorsement of Hugh Miles’ skills as a film-maker. In many ways, he’s beaten the system. After his other classic - A Passion for Angling - aired on BBC2 in 1993, terrestrial television became a barren wasteland for fishing-related programmes.
The advent of satellite may have given it a new home, but it was one that only a few could access. There would be the occasional crumb, but such has been the media’s obsession with celebrity that sacrifices were made to produce shows that barely resembled anything we were used to. They have been angling shows in name only.
Hugh, though, has remained loyal to the formula that made ‘Passion’ such a success. Fishing, in all its glory, is the cornerstone, even if it is blended with the beauty of the UK countryside and this time some truly breath-taking underwater footage. There are no gimmicks. There are no C-list celebrities. There is no swearing, over-acting or blood and guts. It’s just angling. Beautifully shot, but just angling nonetheless.
Look, there are elements in the shows that I don’t think are perfect. But there are also moments that are pure, 100 per cent magic. Moments that anglers will talk about in exactly the same way they still talk about Bob James’ roach catch from the Avon, or Chris Yates’ scarecrow at Redmire.
Make no mistake. Among the many ‘impossible’ sized fish they managed to catch for the cameras, the biggest of them all was getting the finished show on terrestrial television.
You have my sincerest - and unashamed - congratulations.