John Bailey presents a brand new angling TV series based on the iconic comic strip Mr Crabtree Goes Fishing, which begins broadcast on Quest on January 24th.

The original Mr. Crabtree goes Fishing is the comic strip story of a father who takes his son Peter on a series of angling adventures over the course of a year, fishing for a variety of species along the rivers and lakes of Britain.  It became the most iconic angling book ever  – selling something like 4 million copies – and for many is still the touchstone against which every angling book will always be judged.

Produced by Toast Entertainment Group for Mr. Crabtree Ltd, this show is packed full of positive messages about getting kids involved in the sport, in getting outdoors, the importance of role models and mentors, of teaching and respect of the environment. But above all it is a great series of fishing journeys in beautiful countryside catching fish and having fun. Angling has so much to offer at so many different levels and Mr. Crabtree is the essence of fishing and what it should be all about.

Presented by John Bailey, the new series premiers on Quest on January 24th at 9pm. Author and presenter John Bailey is a lifelong angler, an original ‘Crabtree Kid’, and one of today’s most internationally renowned fishermen and guides.  With a publishing and presenting career spanning 4 decades, John is the perfect presenter for Fishing in the footsteps of Mr. Crabtree and his knowledge and obvious passion for angling shines through in every episode.

The Crabtree ethos reaches far beyond fishing, because at its heart it’s about the most essential of human traits. Through the teachings of Mr. Crabtree it’s possible to convey respect, discipline, tenacity, enthusiasm, confidence and more. The show highlights the importance of role models, mentoring and guidance in forming young minds, and does it in a way that empowers and involves children, letting them make their own mistakes in scenarios designed to boost confidence.

Mr. Crabtree provides the platform to bring generations together in harmony, to cut through the gender and class divide, and to provide a level playing field for all. This is genuinely what fishing does for people, and if you listen long enough to the tales that anglers tell, you will hear this message loud and clear.

In that sense Crabtree is a movement, a force for good, and it has a pivotal place in our society. They celebrate the fusion of classic and contemporary methods, not just in fishing but in their communications with their audience. Their new book is a beautifully written and produced modern classic hardback, but they are equally as comfortable in the digital arena, reaching out to their community through facebook and twitter, wholeheartedly embracing social media and contemporary communications.

Mr. Crabtree is here to highlight not just everything that’s good about angling, but to go further, to give youngsters a direction, a passion, something else to consider and, possibly, a reason not to make the wrong choices in life.


Presenter Biography

John Bailey

Lifelong angler John Bailey began his professional angling career in 1989 when he left teaching to appear in the ITV production ‘Casting for Gold’, a mahseer hunt set in the Himalayas.

Throughout the nineties John presented a regular slot on the BBC2 countryside programme, ‘Countryside Hour’. He has made frequent film appearances and appeared in Tales From The Riverbank (BBC2) and several satellite productions. In 2007, he filmed his first series with Horse and Country TV called ‘On The Fly’. John has also made numerous radio appearances, perhaps most notably an hour-long Kaleidoscope special on the life of Isaak Walton for Radio 4.

John has been guiding for twenty years. He made his name leading groups down on the River Wye for the barbel that were first appearing there. The Nineties and first years of the twenty-first century saw John lead many expeditions abroad, often to the most difficult and dangerous of locations. He has led well over twenty-five groups now to various parts of India. Other interesting journeys have included Greenland, Mongolia and Siberia with countless journeys to various different countries in Europe.

When John isn’t fishing he can often be found pursuing his other talents of writing and photography. The author of some 50 books, John’s most recent work ‘Fishing in the Footsteps of Mr. Crabtree’, co-written and illustrated by Rob Olsen, was published in November 2012.

Keen football fans might also recall John from his appearance in the The Legends’ Manchester United squad that played in front of a capacity crowd at Celtic Park in August 2011, raising funds for the Oxfam Famine Appeal.


Episode Synopsis

Ep1 – Tench

The first programme in the series sees John Bailey fishing with 12-year-old Sam from the West Midlands. An accomplished young match angler already, Sam threw himself heart and soul into the filming, absorbing every bit of advice he could glean from John. In this episode we see Sam and John fishing predominantly for Tench using classic and contemporary methods alike and ringing the changes as they target their prey over a two-day period. We feel the palpable ‘tench’ion (sorry!) as they get ever closer to catching…. Will they do it?

Ep2 – Rivers

Aka, Happy Dace are here again, episode two in the series welcomes 12-year-old Tadhg from Oxford to the riverbank for a series of lessons in watercraft and the signs of a healthy waterway. A largely self-taught angler, we see Tadhg revelling in the time he spends with John, obviously enjoying having access to John’s world of angling wisdom. The companions visit many stretches over their two days together, comparing urban and rural waters, discussing the evolution of a river and the positive impact of angling as a community builder. We witness their joy in the simple pleasure of an unprompted fishing match as the tutor takes on his young charge…. Who will win?

Ep3 – Lakes

Where episodes 1 and 2 could have had us believing that we’d skipped off to film in the sun, there’s no doubting we’re in Britain for episode three, and experiencing the wettest ‘summer’ for the longest time. Any UK angler will empathise with the conditions they experience, but will be equally heartened by their tenacity and ultimate success. Thankfully, 9-year-old Henry from Devon is happy to fish in all weathers and his enthusiasm never wanes as he and John spend a contented two days fishing numerous lakes, deploying different methods and tactics depending on the environment and enjoying the natural world as they fish for all species.

Ep4 – Carp

10-year-old Michael from Coventry comes to us wanting to catch Carp, and as with many youngsters today, this means BIG fish. This presents a complex quandary for John in episode four, not least because as the smallest of all of our ‘Peters’, the sheer physical strength needed to play a big fish is not necessarily a given. In this episode we see John visiting his friend and contemporary carp angler Alan Blair to talk about modern methods and to gauge where to start with Michael. We see Michael catch his big fish, and John’s internal wrangling over whether he’s taken the right approach – will he manage to convey to Michael the true joy of fishing in their two days together?

Ep5 – Barbel

Jaynie, 14 and Claragh, 12 from Glasgow are largely sea and game anglers so placing them knee-deep in the Wye to fish for Barbel presented a big challenge. Add to that rising waters and swollen rivers and you can imagine how tricky episode 5 became. We see a more contemplative John in this episode, scanning the twists and turns of water he knows and loves so well for signs of fish and working constantly to guide the sisters in their Quest for Barbel. They find Chub, but will they capture the elusive Barbel?

Ep6 – Pike

For the final episode in the series we’re back working a multitude of waters to find Mr. Pike. Fishing with 14-year-old James from Wales we feel the obvious sense of comradery present in two anglers with a common goal. John and James fish for Pike in rivers, lakes and weir pools; early mornings are obligatory and in this episode we join the anglers as the misty dawn breaks around them. As John discusses summer piking and the peculiar challenges it presents, we experience with them the agony of darting fish and missed strikes. They’re certainly working hard enough, but will they find their fish?