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Review: Paul Whitehouse and Bob Mortimer

Cheltenham Literature Festival

Whitehouse and Mortimer

Watching buddies Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse sitting side by side on a leather sofa
discussing their mutual love of fishing, is such a comfortable, Sunday evening thing to do.

It was a bit like watching two beloved uncles exchanging banter on a sofa by the fire in their livingroom at the end of a day on the river, with two fat trout cooling off in the fridge.
Bob even arrived on stage wearing his fishing clothes, minus the waders but including the hat, whichhe carefully folded up and laid on the arm of the sofa next to him.

After sitting down, he opened what appeared to be a bottle of ale, which he drank from during the evening. He’s the first Literature Festival participant I’ve ever seen drink anything but water ormaybe coffee from a disposable cup. Meanwhile, next to him Paul was dressed in double denim and a wide smile which rarely left his face throughout the show. He treated us to a full range of his accents and impressions, as the pair discussed their fishing TV programme with host Julia Wheeler.

The two friends began fishing together after Bob’s heart operation. “We talked about it for 20 years but probably would never have got around to doing it if it hadn’t been for my heart operation,” said Bob.

“Paul rang me a lot while I was recovering and we discovered that fishing was an excuse for making time to do very little.”
An expert angler, Paul started fishing at the age of five with his father and was only too happy to share his love of the sport with Bob, particularly as they had both been diagnosed with heart disease and decided life was too short not to be enjoyed.

After a while, they thought it might be a good idea to ask the BBC if they were interested in making a show about it, which of course they were, and the rest is television schedule history. And by the looks of the sell-out crowd at the Times Forum, it appears this gentle, gag-heavy, fishing friendship was just what the doctor ordered.


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