Bob Mortimer misses Gone Fishing due to health issues

Mortimer is replaced by Lee Mack in the penultimate episode of the current series

Tom Murray
Friday 29 September 2023 18:06 BST
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Bob Mortimer impersonates 'train guy'

Bob Mortimer will be absent from this Sunday’s (1 October) episode of Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Fishing.

In the forthcoming penultimate episode of series six, Mortimer, 64, calls his costar Paul Whitehouse, 65, to let him know that he can’t make the trip due to illness.

In his place, Mortimer has arranged for fellow comedian Lee Mack, 55, to fill in. The fishing then takes place on the tidal outcrop of Burgh Island on the south coast of Devon.

Whitehouse elaborated on the Mortimer’s absence on BBC One’s Morning Live on Friday.

“Bob wasn’t very well, he’s had shingles, and he wasn’t very well, he’s alright now and he’s able to come back to the next episode,” the Harry & Paul star said.

“But he lines up a replacement, a substitute, how can anyone be a substitute for Robert Mortimer?”

Gone Fishing follows the pair of comedians on various fishing trips around the UK as the pair discuss their respective heart problems.

Paul Whitehouse (left) and Lee Mack on ‘Gone Fishing’

Mortimer had a triple heart bypass operation in 2015 after he was diagnosed with coronary heart disease. Whitehouse, who was also diagnosed with heart disease, has had three stents inserted to help widen his coronary arteries.

The series was born when Whitehouse, who has known Mortimer for over 30 years, invited his longtime friend fishing to get him out of the house after his heart surgery.

“That’s how we sold [the show],” Whitehouse told The Independent’s Ed Cumming in 2020. “We’ve got this show and we’ve both got heart disease, so with a bit of luck, the jeopardy is that one of us will drop dead on the riverbank, and that’s TV gold. So far it hasn’t happened. We keep dragging it out.”

The series has been immensely popular, now in its sixth season. “It’s hard to explain the curious alchemy of Gone Fishing, which is rarely laugh-out-loud funny but has a soothing, unforced pace that draws you in,” Cummings wrote previously. “The production helps, using plenty of drone shots to show the country’s rivers in stately majesty, but the programme relies on the performances of its leads, two of our most gifted comic performers.”

Mortimer was also taken to hospital during the filming of series five last year.

He told Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast, that he was “not very healthy right now”.

He also discovered that, after being free of rheumatoid arthritis for 29 years, “it came back 10 days ago”.

The comedian said: “It is really sad for me to know whether it will go. Yes I might be fat but actually, I am on steroids.”

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