BBC's Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Fishing is available on the BBC iplayer

FOR anyone missing the gentle rural charms of Detectorists, BBC's Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Fishing has proven to be a sublime summer substitute.

The set up is simple: comedians and lifelong friends Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse share their personal and hilarious life experiences while travelling around the UK fishing for elusive species of the finned variety. If it sounds familiar that's because it is: think Three Men in a Boat mixed with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon in The Trip and you've basically got the premise of Gone Fishing. Despite the laughs (and there are plenty) what really makes this lovely half hour of TV stand out is the moving pathos involved with proceedings. Both Bob (59) and Paul (60) have recently undergone life-changing heart operations leaving them both full of middle aged angst about their health, happiness and future prospects. It makes their conversations and frequent ruminations on life and living all the more heartfelt as they contemplate a dotage where slowing down the pace a little is literally a matter of life and death.

Bob has never fished before, so Paul (who is something of an expert angler) has to teach him which is easier said than done when all his friend really wants is the instant gratification of the catch and not the patient build up. Obviously there's a rather clear metaphor for life here and Paul is full of advice on how Bob needs to face up to his health problems a bit more seriously even if that means something as simple as giving up biscuits or doing a bit of exercise. It's clear that Bob, who underwent triple bypass surgery in 2015, has been the more effected by his plight and it's moving to hear between the laughs how it was Paul who coaxed him back into public life after what sounds like some dark times.

"What do we hope to achieve at the end of this, Paul?" Bob asks in one of the early episodes. "A bit of inner peace," comes the reply and interestingly that's exactly what Gone Fishing provokes in the viewer. Throw in the typically stunning BBC shots of beautiful British landscapes and I'm sure you'll be as hooked as I was.