Once upon a time, actors used to act and sportsmen played sport. We knew where we were. Very occasionally, as in the case of C Aubrey Smith, who captained England at cricket (once) before tucking his bat under his arm and heading off to Hollywood, appearing in such classics as 'Rebecca' and 'The Prisoner of Zenda', someone jumped the dividing line, but that was very much the exception.
Nowadays it's a free-for-all. Former football hardman Vinnie Jones is busy going straight to video on the Hollywood movie scene, Old Trafford hero Eric Cantona is treading the boards in a Paris theatre, and television stalwart Robson Green – "I'm just a poncy Geordie actor" – is back with a third series of Extreme Fishing (Five, Thursday), regularly the channel's most-watched programme.
So what's the big attraction? There's plenty of stunning scenery on view as he zooms around the world's prime fishing spots, but no more than is offered by dozens of documentaries. Expert fishing tips, perhaps? Nope; Green doesn't bother himself with discussions about rods and tackle or casting techniques, he just lands at his next destination, glad-hands the locals, bungs some bait on, plonks his hook in the water and hopes for the best.
With him it's all about success, trying to land the biggest, rarest or most ferocious specimens around, and when he gets a result he bounds around ecstatically like Ant and Dec's favourite uncle, shouting: "I'm so happy!" Or occasionally, for variation: "How happy am I!" Conversely, if a fish has the cheek to slip off his hook, he descends into potty-mouthed gloom.
Perhaps it's these extreme displays of emotion that keep the punters tuning in, or maybe it's being able to live the dream with him as he exclaims: "What a place – how lucky I am!" There is, of course, the odd voice of dissent – "I'd prefer it if it was 'Extreme Fisting' with Robson Green," writes a blogger called Radar. There are other channels for that, sir, possibly featuring Julian Clary. For most of us, though, Green is good.
* Nearer home, a tip of the hat to whoever had the idea for BBC1's Late Kick Off (Monday), a round-up of Football League games split into seven regions. The 75-minute 'Football League Show' on Saturday is all very well, but supporters of League Two clubs can sit around until after 1am before their team is featured, as well as having to endure the fidgety Lizzie Greenwood-Hughes reading out a flood of irritating and often irrelevant emails and text messages as though they were the most meaningful statements since the Sermon on the Mount. This 30-minute slot at an earlier hour is far more focused. We'd go as far as to say that they are making an extremely good fist of it, if we weren't fearful of over-exciting Radar.Reuse content