World News – UK – Mortimer and Whitehouse: Gone Christmas Fishing was a life-affirming look at the festive season


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What a joy, especially in a year like this, that comedian Paul Whitehouse was open about Christmas. He complained to his friend Bob Mortimer in a way that Scrooge would be proud of when the comedians took the train to Middlesbrough, where Mortimer grew up for the festive Mortimer and Whitehouse: Gone Christmas Fishing.

It was serene to see the two of them standing around in the Esk and Tees rivers, hoping to catch grayling after they both started fishing after they had serious heart problems. Whitehouse was effortlessly funny as he withered talked about how commerce ruined December while Mortimer tried to get him in the Christmas spirit. There was a compelling, easy dynamic between them that can’t be faked. Mortimer assured Whitehouse that he would be fine with a pat on the knee.

Of course, like previous episodes of Gone Fishing, it wasn’t about fishing, but about friendship and life. This episode was subtly illuminating and poignant about Mortimer’s childhood and the memories he had of his father’s death in a traffic accident when he was six years old. When the couple stood in front of Mortimer’s parents’ house and he described how he saw his mother cry and was chased off the street by a neighbor, his friend’s answer was even more moving because of its simplicity: « Damn it, Bob ». Then he added, as only a close friend can joke at moments like this, « It’s not a very Christmas memory, is it Bob? ».

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I hadn’t felt festive, but these two middle-aged men, who spoke with warmth and honesty about life and death in a beautiful landscape, filled me with the spirit of Christmas. Not a perfect tree or efficient online shopping, but the people we might be lucky enough to be able to fish with.

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Bob Mortimer, Paul Whitehouse, Christmas Day, BBC Two

World News – GB – Mortimer and Whitehouse: Christmas fishing was a life-affirming look at the festive season
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