The four million viewers who tuned into BBC2’s Christmas episode of Gone Fishing watched Paul Whitehouse reveal a decidedly “bah humbug” approach to the “overly commercial” festive season as Bob Mortimer tried to persuade his friend of all the joy it can bring.
It seemed that Bob was fighting a losing battle until he played his trump card - a quintessential country cottage in Yorkshire with twinkling fairy lights, a beautifully decorated tree, a roaring log fire and a turkey dinner. It reminded Paul that it’s the simple pleasures that make Christmas so special, even though this episode was filmed in October.
The production team chose Chequers cottage in Osmotherley, a holiday let available through Beautiful Escapes, thanks to its beautiful rural location, its gorgeous interiors and the abundance of period features.
Owner Emma McDonald was thrilled when it was cast in a starring role in Mortimer and Whitehouse: Gone Christmas Fishing. She says: “The boys were lovely, really charming and they really are great characters who are very funny. They loved the cottage and it did help get Paul into the Christmas spirit.”
Creative Emma went all out to make Chequers as Christmassy as possible. She crafted hundreds of baubles for the tree and handmade the wreaths and garlands, along with the candleholders on the table. She says: “I even did some fishing fly baubles because I knew they were going fly fishing and I managed to get a copy of J.R. Hartley’s Fly Fishing book for the cottage.”
Chequers is a 400-year-old former drovers inn and is part of the McDonald family sheep farm, which sits two miles above the village of Osmotherley. Emma ran the cottage as a tearoom before she and her husband turned it into a holiday let. She also designed the interiors, helped fit the kitchen and made all the soft furnishings.
While the cottage is undoubtedly one of the stars of the show, Mortimer and Whitehouse: Gone Christmas Fishing also highlights the beauty of the surrounding area. It begins with the comedians travelling by rail to Middlesborough, where Bob Mortimer grew up.
The pair then fish on the River Tees and River Esk, near Barnard Castle and Eggleston Hall, where they are led by Olly Shepherd, owner of Fly Fishing North Yorkshire. They visit Bob’s childhood home and also stay in the pretty harbour village of Staithes where they try sea fishing
The BBC2 show, which features a surprise guest appearance by Chris Rea, looks set to become one of the festive season’s biggest TV hits as people catch up on iPlayer drawn by rave reviews. It will also be repeated on December 23 at 6.30pm.
As ever, it is not just about fishing. It is about life, friendship, beautiful scenery, a little sadness and laughs, lots and lots of laughs. It also made Yorkshire viewers nod in agreement at the goggle box when Bob Mortimer assured London-based Paul Whitehouse with a pat on the knee and the words “You’ll be alright up North”.
*Chequers cottage, Osmotherley, is available to book through www.beautifulescapes.co.uk
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