TV fishing stars ‘knocked out’ by North Uist beauty

FISHING PARADISE: Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse filming in North UistFISHING PARADISE: Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse filming in North Uist
FISHING PARADISE: Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse filming in North Uist
North Uist has received rave reviews from fishermen, critics and television viewers alike after starring in the popular BBC2 fishing show Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Fishing last Sunday.

Bob Mortimer told BBC Scotland: "It is the most extraordinary place we've been… the best show we've ever done and that is down to the extraordinary environment."

The show follows the comedians as they fish lochs, rivers and lakes around the UK, while chatting about their life experiences. It normally attracts an audience of around 1.8 million viewers and will do no harm at all to the Uist tourism trade.

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Paul Whitehouse, the more serious fisherman of the pair, said: "I've fished on the Isle of Lewis but never North Uist. We were knocked out by it. The staggering beauty and extraordinary landscape is beautifully captured by our crew."

Mortimer, who says he is able to enjoy angling thanks to Whitehouse's knowledge of the sport, admitted to previously "sometimes fishing with a children's rod bought out of Woolworths”. However, while on North Uist he caught and then lost his first sea trout and Whitehouse was "very, very upset" about it.

The programme’s fishing consultant, John Bailey, wrote in glowing terms in his Fish & Fly magazine column: “Everyone in the team was blown away by the island… A world as much water as land, and a Zen-like purity and serenity that blew the largely London-based crew away. I don’t know for sure, but I’d hazard a guess that no other venue has made the same impact as Uist”.

Mr Bailey had particular praise for one of the islanders who helped them make the programme: “We were based at this superbly traditional hotel, and John (Docherty) was our guide in the film. He and his family run the Lochmaddy and it is a haven, believe me.

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“I rely a lot on local experts, both in preparation and during the filming, and John was way up there with the best we have met up with. He was that wonderful mix of deep knowledge, accessibility, humour and tolerance that makes for a great guide.

“Personally, I’d have loved to see more of him in the film. I accept that in 26 minutes or so, time is tight, and the focus has to be on the boys, but John was an exceptional character. Perhaps you need to get yourselves up there one day to see for yourselves”.

The Lochmaddy Hotel has undergone major refurbishment while retaining its character as a fishing hotel. Having been established in 1863, it is one of the oldest in the islands and enjoys a central location in the village.

Mr Docherty told the Gazette on Wednesday that he has had “a big influx of inquiries following the programme, mainly for next year. I’m wading through the e-mails.

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“A lot of them want to know where the fish were caught and whether I can ghillie for them. We are pretty busy anyway but I think next year is definitely going to see a big increase in the number of people wanting to come here to fish as a result of the programme.”

He added: “It will be to the islands as a whole and not just North Uist. Let’s hope it rains!”.

John had not yet seen the paean of praise to him in the fishing magazine – which will presumably have even more bookings rolling in.

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