Five minutes with: Paul Whitehouse and Bob Mortimer

Comedy legends Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse are set to hit the shelves across the UK with a fishing book, following their award-winning TV series.

The book ‘Gone Fishing’ is a guide to angling like no other. With lessons in both fishing and life, the duo take you through their journey into angling, with hilarious insights into their experiences along the way. 

We caught up with the two friends to find out more, as well as get a glimpse into the contents of their new TV series…


Q) What was your motivation to write a book after the success of your TV show?

Paul: In a book we can tell more of a story, and we wanted to tell people why we started fishing together. We’re also pre-empting other people writing it!

Bob: I think one of the most appealing parts of the TV show was that it highlights the beauty of the British countryside. While we can’t do this in the book, we can go into more detail about other things. Take the section on recipes, for example. We show you how to make all the heart-healthy food we made during the series. We couldn’t do this on TV, but in a book we can show much more.

Q) Your TV show appealed to both anglers and non-anglers. Does your book do the same?

Paul: I think we’ve filled a gap with the show, and have shown the non-angling public how accessible fishing is. We showed that you can go fishing, and that you don’t need loads of tackle and all the rest of it. In the book we’ve continued this simple theme, and hope that we convey the same message.

Bob: I think Gone Fishing was almost the ultimate fishing show! It appealed to loads of people, and we’ve had lots of women telling us that they like it. In the book we talk about history, as well as fishing and food, and I like to think we’ve included something for everyone.

Q) Have you heard from many people who have been inspired to start fishing after watching your programme?

Bob: There are lots of people who fished as kids, but like me they lost touch with angling as they got older. I’ve had a steady stream of people who tell me they’ve got back into fishing after watching the show, and we like to think that we’ve brought fishing back into the public eye.

Q) Although you do lots of fly fishing, what is it you like most about coarse fishing?

Paul: It’s been a joy for me to do more coarse fishing again. Floatfishing is a real favourite of mine, and I love trotting for grayling. Oh, and fishing for tench – not a lot beats that, I think.

Bob: There are all these extreme sports that people do, but I like coarse fishing because it advocates a pastime where you can just sit on your arse! I also just love the mystical, invisible connection between you and the float. I think it’s the best form of meditation. The only thing I don’t like are the bream! They disgust me. They’re like naan bread.

Q) What do you think of on the modern carp angling scene?

Paul: I remember going carp fishing with Chris Yates, and all we used as bait was maggots. His approach showed that you don’t need all the hi-tech stuff, and this simple approach to angling is still incredibly effective.

Bob: As I’ve already said, I’m a sucker for sitting, so I like carp fishing!

Q) What are your opinions on the closed season?

Paul: I’m on the fence about it. I love June 16 – it’s such a special day for anglers. I suppose it gives the fish a break, and it’s good to leave them alone for a bit.

Bob: I’m no expert on it, but I always feel that absence makes the heart grow fonder. I suppose it’s a bit like football. I hate the break when the season ends, but I love it when it comes back.

Q) Tell us about the new TV series…

Paul: We’ve followed the same theme as the first series, as this was what worked and appealed to so many people. We show the British countryside in all its glory, and still include sections talking about things away from fishing. We travel more around the UK and target new species, such as salmon in Scotland and pike in Wales.

Bob: We also go carp fishing in Essex, where we have a match of the new techno approach verses traditional float tactics. You’ll have to watch the episode to see which comes out on top.

Q) How are your hearts? Are you well?

Paul: We’ve both been eating healthily, but we currently have a Twix sat in front of us! In all seriousness, we’re both all right. I’ve been doing a show every night, and have been keeping busy doing lots of exercise.

Q) Finally, what are your angling ambitions?

Bob: Catching a tench on the float is currently my fishing goal. I love that classic scene of watching a float sat next to the lily pads. You really can’t beat that.

Paul: Do you know, Bob, some anglers fish for tench with feeders, casting miles into the distance? 

Q) Would you not fancy doing something like that?

Bob: Oh no, Paul. I don’t think I’m interested in that!

Paul: At the end of the book we talk about a man we met on the banks of the River Tay in Scotland. He had cancer and knew he didn’t have long left to live, but he had made the decision to spend the last of his days fishing. This is how we’d like to spend the last of our days, and I think that is the ultimate ambition.

Buy the book

Bob & Paul’s book Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Fishing (Blink Publishing, £18.99) is available now in audio, print and eBook.

listen to an extract here: