PREMIERE: Friday 13th January 2006 at 9.00pm


Izaak Walton’s 1653 classic, The Compleat Angler, is being brought to life for the 21st century in a brand new 10-part series, exclusive to Discovery Real Time. Walton’s novel has become one of the most published books in the English language after the works of Shakespeare and the Bible and the series is based around his original and definitive guide to angling.


Geoffrey Palmer, one of Britain’s best loved actors (of As Time Goes By fame), joins Rae Borras, an east-ender with encyclopaedic angling knowledge, to catch some of Britain’s best fish as they compare the locations, fish and methods of today with those over 350 years ago when Walton wrote The Compleat Angler.


Palmer and Borras use both ancient and modern equipment to compare fishing techniques through the ages.  However, they soon discover that while heavy wooden rods may have been substituted for light carbon fibre equivalents, the art of fishing never changes…


Episode breakdown


1. Chubb and Roach

·         As in the opening chapter of the book, the journey starts in Tottenham before travelling on to the River Lee where Palmer and Borras fish for chubb

·         The second part of the episode sees the men meeting up with Michael Nadell, top Chef and an avid collector of antique fishing rods.  The three men fish for roach using London Roach Poles – similar to the type once used by Walton


2. Barbel, Trout and Grayling

·         Palmer and Borras team up with artist John Seale in an attempt to catch the elusive barbel on a stretch of the River Avon belonging to the Longford estate

·         They travel to Derbyshire to fish for wild brown trout on the River Lathkil where they are shown how to make a traditional line out of horse hair


3. Trout

·         The pair explore the world of a man who also wrote a considerable part of The Compleat Angler – Charles Cotton

·         They fish on historic stretches of the River Dove and visit Temple Cotton, which Cotton built himself to honour his great friend – Walton


4. Channel and Eels

·         The eel, which existed in prolific numbers in Walton’s day is now under threat, and Palmer and Borras travel to Kent to find out about the remarkable life cycle of this often neglected fish


5. Gudgeon, Ruffe and Bleak

·         They return to the River Lee in search of gudgeon, ruffe and bleak – small but fascinating fish

·         Palmer also investigates an old gunpowder mill that was around in Walton’s day and Borras goes electro fishing in the river’s backwaters


6.  Salmon

·         Salmon fishing is a shared passion of both Palmer and Borras.  Together they fish the River Tweed at Dryburgh Abbey in Scotland

·         Borras meets the Duke of Northumberland, owner of the river, and the pair discover how the local monks harvested the fish over 500 years ago


7. Bream and Zander

·         Walton refers to bream as ‘big as a hog’ – and the pair attempt to catch a pig-sized bream of their own on the River Stour in Dorse


8. Pike

·         Whilst fishing for pike they discover what clothes 17th century fisherman would have worn

·         They also travel to the River Wensome in Norfolk for a chat with renowned angling author John Bailey


9.Tench and Perch

·         Sparsholt College near Winchester is where river keepers of the future are trained. They fish at the college’s private lake for the tench, which Walton referred to as the doctor fish

·         They also visit a trout farm in search of perch


10. Carp

·         Modern techniques are tried side by side with traditional methods from The Compleat Angler as they fish for Carp.

·         They also spend a day on the river Avon with fishing legend Chris Yates


The Compleat Angler premieres on Discovery Real Time on Friday 13th January at 9.00pm.  The ten-part series will transmit thereafter in this day and time slot.