QUITE THE CATCH: ROBSON GREEN TALKS ABOUT HIS LOVE FOR NATURE
Nineties TV heart-throb Robson Green has made quite the splash in the fishing world. He tells Gabrielle Fagan about feeling like a teenager, his hopes for his son and why being around nature feels like therapy.
As the rejected suitor of a fisherman, I’m not disposed to warm to Robson Green.
The Geordie actor, whose 30-year career has included TV hits like Soldier Soldier and Wire In The Blood, and most recently, a highly successful role as gruff cop Inspector Keating in Grantchester.
He has also become a superhero for anglers. Millions are hooked on his fishing series, which began in 2008 with Extreme Fishing With Robson Green.
Since then, he’s matured into one of the world’s most experienced fishermen, and is currently demonstrating his skills in his new series, Robson Green’s Ultimate Catch.
And it’s not just those with a keen interest in tackle talk that he’s caught the attention of, by injecting sex-appeal into the UK’s most popular participatory sport.
Stripped to the waist to reveal his hairy chest, he flexes his muscles and wrestles scaly, flapping monsters out of rivers and seas and into his arms, and then professes his sincere admiration for them by exclaiming, “Look at the size of that!”
He’s far more lyrical out of the water than in it – his fishing catchwords are of the pithy variety; “we’re in”, or “get in” – but on dry land, he enthuses: “Fishing’s such a beautiful activity which makes perfect sense to me. It’s like a therapy, because you are surrounded by nature, and that helps you get a proper rhythm for life.”
As he gazes at me with his piercing blue eyes and talks, about turning 50 and finding himself, I can distinctly feel the Robson Green charm reeling me in.
That milestone birthday (he turned 50 on December 18) was hugely at odds with how he feels inside. “I remember being young, and looking at someone who was 50 and thinking, ‘Why are they bothering to live?’, because it seemed so old and boring,” he says with a chuckle.
“Luckily inside, I feel like an 18-year-old, with the spirit inside me as adventurous and young as it ever was. I still have wide-eyed wonder about the amazing things I’ve seen, in an extraordinary life travelling all over the world for my career.”
He’s relieved that, instead of seeing career opportunities dwindle as he’s aged, they’ve actually increased.
Over the last 12 months, as well as Grantchester, he’s made a second series of Tales From Northumberland, a documentary about his beloved childhood home, where still lives.
Undeniably the most physically demanding commitments were filming Ultimate Catch and reprising his role in action-packed Sky 1 series Strike Back, based on the novels of former SAS man, Chris Ryan.
Green, a muscular 5ft 9, doesn’t, however, take his fitness lightheartedly, and has a regimented routine of five gym sessions a week, eats healthily and never drinks alcohol.
“It’s essential I look after myself, because of what I put my body through in stunts as an actor, and even more through the fishing journeys,” he says.
“Trekking through jungles is tough. We don’t escape to hotels and if I’m living with tribes on the bank of a river, I camp out under a canopy or kip in a canoe.
“In this new series, I go further than ever in pursuit of a fish I’ve always wanted to catch – the Golden Dorado, which lives in the middle of nowhere in Bolivia.
We had to trek for days to find this ultimate fish, avoiding caiman crocodiles hungry for their next meal. One swam past my legs, and thanks to him, I discovered I could still run pretty fast !”
He’s faced his share of personal turbulence on dry land, too. He’s been married twice, and in 2011, his 12-year marriage to former model, Vanya Seager, ended. The couple have a 14-year-old son, Taylor.
“Relationships sometimes don’t work, and that’s life,” Green says philosophically. “That’s what happened with me and Vanya, but we’re on good terms and she’s an astonishing, beautiful woman and a wonderful mother. Our wonderful son Taylor is very bright and sporty and is doing incredible things, so it’s all good.
“My advice to him as he grows up is to find something that truly makes him happy, and then he’ll never have to work again,” he adds.
“That’s how it is for me – I pursued two things which really fulfil me, fishing and acting, and it’s led to so many great things, and I’ve got paid for it. It’s never felt like work.”
His current girlfriend, “an account manager for a big clothing brand”, shares his love of the outdoors.
“We both like the countryside and walking and she finds fishing peaceful.
“Marriage ? I have no time – there’s too much fishing to be done !”
Over the last decade – particularly since the death of his father in 2009, a miner also called Robson – he believes he’s found himself, and matured.
“Although I’ve never gone off the rails, when I was young I was reckless, and it was all about Robson. But I’ve learnt so much from experiencing different cultures, meeting different people, as well as having the time to observe nature and the behaviour of wildlife in my travels.
“Nowadays, I know who I am, have a sense of identity and self-worth, and know where I’m going,” he says.
“I realise that contentment comes when life is about others; family, friends, and giving and investing in people and experiences – all far more valuable than material things. I can’t wait for more adventures.”
First published Saturday 21 February 2015 in Wellbeing
The Geordie actor, whose 30-year career has included TV hits like Soldier Soldier and Wire In The Blood, and most recently, a highly successful role as gruff cop Inspector Keating in Grantchester, has also become a superhero for anglers.
Millions are hooked on his fishing series, which began in 2008 with Extreme Fishing With Robson Green, when, by his own admission, he was an amateur. Since then, he's matured into one of the world's most experienced fishermen, and is currently demonstrating his skills in his new series, Robson Green's Ultimate Catch.
And it's not just those with a keen interest in tackle talk that he's caught the attention of (for the record, my piscatorial romance ended when I plunged my hand into a bowl of live maggot bait while hunting for a snack in the fridge), by injecting sex-appeal into the UK's most popular participatory sport.
Stripped to the waist to reveal his hairy chest, he flexes his muscles and wrestles scaly, flapping monsters out of rivers and seas and into his arms, and then professes his sincere admiration for them by exclaiming, "Look at the size of that!"
There's an unscripted, spontaneous feel to the shows.
"When I'm acting, I'm pretending to be someone else, but when I fish, I'm just Robson," says the presenter. "I'm totally me, and I love the fact we never know what's going to happen next. The fish make the rules."
He's far more lyrical out of the water than in it - his fishing catchwords are of the pithy variety; "we're in", or "get in" - but on dry land, he enthuses: "Fishing's such a beautiful activity which makes perfect sense to me. It's like a therapy, because you are surrounded by nature, and that helps you get a proper rhythm for life."
As he gazes at me with his piercing blue eyes and talks, with just the trace of a Geordie accent, about turning 50 and finding himself, I can distinctly feel the Robson Green charm reeling me in.
That milestone birthday (he turned 50 on December 18) was hugely at odds with how he feels inside. "I remember being young, and looking at someone who was 50 and thinking, 'Why are they bothering to live?', because it seemed so old and boring," he says with a chuckle.
"I thought it would need a Stephen Hawking complicated equation to make me get to that age, and yet here I am. Physically, I recognise my limitations - humiliatingly small boys sped past me like gazelles when I took part in a father's race at my son's school a few years ago!
"Luckily inside, I feel like an 18-year-old, with the spirit inside me as adventurous and young as it ever was. I still have wide-eyed wonder about the amazing things I've seen, in an extraordinary life travelling all over the world for my career."
He's relieved that, instead of seeing career opportunities dwindle as he's aged, they've actually increased. "You rather dread the thought that when you hit 50 you'll be classed as a so-called character actor, and offers will dry up because you're seen as ugly and old and can't run a mile in three minutes, but blow me, I've had the busiest year ever."
Over the last 12 months, as well as Grantchester, he's made a second series of Tales From Northumberland, a documentary about his beloved childhood home, where still lives.
Undeniably the most physically demanding commitments were filming Ultimate Catch - battling the elements in Bolivia and the Azores, and fishing for huge fishy predators - and reprising his role in action-packed Sky 1 series Strike Back, based on the novels of former SAS man, Chris Ryan.
It's a neat coincidence that another military drama, Soldier Soldier, first won him nationwide fame in the Nineties. He played Fusilier Dave Tucker opposite co-star Jerome Flynn, and the pair even had a number one hit after their rendition on the show of Unchained Melody was released as a single.
"Jerome and I are still great buddies. It was such a special time on that monster success of a show and we had a great chemistry between us.
"Funnily enough, he called me while I was out on location for Strike Back to find out what I was up to. I told him, 'Buddy, I'm a lieutenant colonel in Thailand taking on North Korea and saving the world from a missile attack'," he says, joking about his role as Colonel Philip Locke in the drama. "Jerome congratulated me on my astonishing promotion from fusilier to colonel - and warned me not to start singing!"
Green, a muscular 5ft 9, doesn't, however, take his fitness lightheartedly, and has a regimented routine of five gym sessions a week, eats healthily and never drinks alcohol.
"It's essential I look after myself, because of what I put my body through in stunts as an actor, and even more through the fishing journeys," he says. "Trekking through jungles is tough. We don't escape to hotels and if I'm living with tribes on the bank of a river, I camp out under a canopy or kip in a canoe.
"In this new series, I go further than ever in pursuit of a fish I've always wanted to catch - the Golden Dorado, which lives in the middle of nowhere in Bolivia. We had to trek for days to find this ultimate fish, avoiding caiman crocodiles hungry for their next meal. One swam past my legs, and thanks to him, I discovered I could still run pretty fast!"
He recalls another terrifying incident on location, five years ago, when he was marooned for 36 hours in the middle of the ocean near Alaska, and a Force 10 hurricane hit.
"I actually don't believe in the Almighty - I've never thought we can solve things by confiding in invisible friends - but believe me, when the captain turned to me and said, 'We could be in serious trouble here', I put all my faith in the Almighty. I seriously thought, 'This is where it's all going to end'."
He's faced his share of personal turbulence on dry land, too. He's been married twice, and in 2011, his 12-year marriage to former model, Vanya Seager, ended. The couple have a 14-year-old son, Taylor.
"Relationships sometimes don't work, and that's life," Green says philosophically. "That's what happened with me and Vanya, but we're on good terms and she's an astonishing, beautiful woman and a wonderful mother. Our wonderful son Taylor is very bright and sporty and is doing incredible things, so it's all good.
"My advice to him as he grows up is to find something that truly makes him happy, and then he'll never have to work again," he adds. "That's how it is for me - I pursued two things which really fulfil me, fishing and acting, and it's led to so many great things, and I've got paid for it. It's never felt like work."
His current girlfriend, "an account manager for a big clothing brand", shares his love of the outdoors. "We both like the countryside and walking and she finds fishing peaceful.
"Marriage ? I have no time - there's too much fishing to be done!"
Over the last decade - particularly since the death of his father in 2009, a miner also called Robson - he believes he's found himself, and matured.
"Although I've never gone off the rails, when I was young I was reckless, and it was all about Robson. But I've learnt so much from experiencing different cultures, meeting different people, as well as having the time to observe nature and the behaviour of wildlife in my travels.
"Nowadays, I know who I am, have a sense of identity and self-worth, and know where I'm going," he says.
"I realise that contentment comes when life is about others; family, friends, and giving and investing in people and experiences - all far more valuable than material things. I can't wait for more adventures."
Gloucestershire Echo, 5 Février 2015
Green added that his exploits have made his Strike Back co-stars Sullivan Stapleton and Philip Winchester jealous, saying: "The presenting is envied by every actor and producer I've ever worked with.
"Sullivan and Philip envy [Ultimate Catch], they all say, 'That's a programme I want to do!' It just was the strangest thing, where someone knew I liked fishing in an article, and it was picked up. I showed Sullivan the cut of Bolivia, and he wants to be in it! He's really serious and wants to get his agent on to Quest to be part of it!"
The actor also spoke about ITV4's upcoming celebrity competition The Big Fish-Off, in which stars take part in fishing challenges.
"Peter Fincham [ITV director], what is he like? So ITV are doing the Big Celebrity Fish Off? Well, Peter saw my very first [fishing] series, rang me and said, 'Why didn't you tell us you like fishing?'
"Fishing is popular and cool, I want people to know it's for everybody, and it's a really enjoyable pursuit. In enjoying that pursuit, you learn so much about your surroundings and in doing that you learn so much about yourself and what makes you happy."
Ultimate Catch premieres on Friday January 23 at 9pm on Quest.
Robson Green has admitted that he is "living the dream" with his latest series Ultimate Catch.
The Grantchester and Strike Back star returns to Quest this week for his latest fishing adventure, in which he travels around the world in search of some of the most sought-after fish, such as the Golden Dorado in Bolivia.
He told Digital Spy: "So many people and professional anglers come up to me and say, 'You are the luckiest actor on the planet', and I just reply and say, 'I'm a hard working actor'. I do a lot of prep and my father used to say, 'The harder you work the luckier you get', and 'Get a job you love, then you never have to work again in your life'.
"And I am a very hard-working actor, but yes I am the luckiest angler on the planet. I really am 100%, from the heart, living the dream. This is something I truly love, and makes utter sense to me.
"When you're working for a company like Quest, who send you on probably the most extraordinary angling adventures of a lifetime, every two weeks, you kinda got to realise the privilege and honour that comes with the whole adventure and never take any day, hour, second of that adventure for granted."
During his adventures, Green became the first European to travel up a particular waterway used by the Guarani tribe in Bolivia, and also spent time with the Wauja tribe in Brazil.
"They are so at ease with who they are and their identity and self-worth and self of belonging," he said. "It's really nice to be alongside, not just in front of the camera, but also as an audience, you think, 'Wow, what a place, what a set of people, and look at that fish!'
"I advocate to my son, he's doing great at school at the moment, but I say, 'Find that fire within you and what you love, and keep it lit', and fishing is that one thing. I found it at a very early age. I thought, 'I'm gonna do this for the rest of my life, I know I am'. By design we're meant to eat them, and it's bloody good for you, and it's tasty."
Talking about when he had a nervy experience with a caiman, Green said: "How butch was I? I thought I was about to be devoured by a 100ft caiman. It was only about 12ft long, and it was about 100 metres away. Honestly, there were thousands of them, and they were hungry, it's not a zoo! They need to feed, and I was an easy target.
"One of them launched itself at the cameraman, that was in the middle of the night, that. This thing wanted to cause some damage, and John Chapel, our operator, was on the menu! All comedy comes out of tragedy, I was well aware and out of the camera shot, and found it hilarious watching John, our butch and athletic cameraman, regress to an infant!"
ROBSON GREEN: EXTREME FISHING
MASSIVELY popular though it is, fishing has rarely made for great television.
So it’s a remarkable achievement on the part of Robson Green that this show of his is embarking tonight on its fourth series.
It’s partly because Robson is an engaging and appealingly self-deprecating companion, but also because he’s never been one to take the easy option.
Tonight, for example, he’s strolling through a market in the Brazilian city of Manaus when he spots for sale a pirarucu, the world’s largest freshwater fish.
“If there’s one fish I want to get from the Amazon,” he declares, “it’s this fellow here.” For Robson, that means hunting the creature down. For the likes of me, it would mean asking the stallholder if he’d be kind enough to de-bone it.
Express, 1er Novembre 2010
ROBSON GREEN'S EXTREME FISHING HAS ME HOOKED
I fantasise about spending three months in a boat with the geordie actor.
It's always a toss-up which is going to come first; "I'm just a poncey geordie actor" or "Wey-hey man, we've banged into something big here."
Either way, you're certain to get both long before the first ad break and when they do come along you know you're hooked into the best hour of the week's television.
Forget Casualty, Soldier, Soldier, Reckless, Touching Evil and Wire in the Blood. And above all forget his tuneless rendition of Unchained Melody.
Extreme Fishing is the programme Robson Green was born to make. Here he gives his finest ever acting performance: as himself.
Whether he's shark fishing off Australia, freezing his nuts off in Alaska, tuna fishing off Cape Cod or getting pulled into the ocean in South Africa, Robson is simply mesmerising.
Here is a man thrilled to be sent round the world at Channel 5's expense to do something he would willingly have forked out for himself if only he could have cleared the three-month round-the-world holiday with the missus.
This is Robson in the raw. A 12-year-old boy trapped in a 45-year-old body. He's so utterly unselfconscious; unaware that his jokes are falling flat, unaware that none of the people he's enlisted to help him haven't a clue who he is and are genuinely confused when he goes on and on about being a "poncey geordie actor".
He's a man-child obsessed with fish and I can't help loving him for it.
There's none of the eco-crap you get in other programmes about fishing: environment and sustainability don't get a mention. There's no real nod to the technical pleasures of the sport either. It's all about landing as many fish – the bigger the better – within an hour: and, if at all possible, killing them.
Robson does not appear to be a man who likes to put his fish back. I'd be willing to bet he doesn't really want them eaten either. What he wants is for them to be stuffed and hung on his wall for everyone to see.
OK, it's not clever and it's not sophisticated, but there are precious few other TV egos I can spend an hour watching without wanting to kill them. More than that, I have fantasies about joining Robson for an expedition. I can't help feeling it would be a lot of fun. So please, Channel 5 – with or without me – commission a third series.
And in the meantime, I'm getting my Speedos out for Robson's next outing on ITV, a series of Wild Swimming. With, no doubt, some guest appearances from passing fish.
The Guardian, 8 Avril 2009
“It was only after coming back to the north-east after the whirlpool swim off Jura. Stepping out of my comfort zone brought me back to the comfort of home. That was the journey.
Then I thought, ‘What about Holy Island ?’ It was all about committing to something, achieving the unachievable.”
The star of Wire In The Blood, Soldier Soldier and northern Lights says the films became “personal” when he went to a childhood swimming hole.
“It was at Seaton burn, the little stream that had been shut off with debris and shopping trolleys. I can see it now: me, Paul Taylor, nicknamed ‘bananas’, michael ‘Snadge’ Sandcaster and David
‘Stan The man’ Stanley. Their names were etched on the wall and are still there today,” he says. “They’re great memories. I can’t ever remember a bad experience in the water. Dad always made me feel secure.”
He doesn’t know why the film became what it did. “It just evolved.
It was a mid-life experience, not a crisis. I’ve never been so confident, happy and at ease. I did something for myself and, for the first time, watched myself not as an actor, and thought, ‘You know what, mate?
You’re quite likeable!’. I was me.” Green, who is about to play George Stephenson, of Stephenson’s rocket fame, in a BBC drama, believes his father, a former coalminer, would have been proud.
“I hope he would just say, ‘Thank you’. That’s all. I wouldn’t seek his approval. He never got any applause, never enjoyed his job but, by God, he was some man.”
TV’S Robson Green has infuriated Britain’s anglers by claiming that most fish that are landed will die after returning to the water.
BBC1 has been inundated with complaints since he made the comment on its Breakfast programme.
The actor, who is fronting Extreme Fishing with Robson Green, on Channel 5, has been dubbed a “moron” and accused of “talking cobblers” with his “irresponsible comments”.
The 44-year-old former Casualty and Soldier Soldier star said in the interview: “I believe that once a fish is landed, it is past the point of recovery – nine out of 10 fish put back will die.”
But his comments have caused fury in the angling world, with critics claiming he is ill-informed and giving ammunition to animal welfare groups which want to ban fishing in Britain.
The Angling Trust’s Mark Lloyd said: “We strongly disagree with Green’s views on this matter.
“It has been repeatedly demonstrated that fish can be caught and returned alive to the water without them suffering any significant stress or damage.
“These comments are highly irresponsible, misinformed and damaging to angling.”
Angler Nigel Roberts, from Plymouth, said: “We are all aware of the ‘antis’ and what they want to do to our sport. We are giving them ammunition on a plate.
“The sport generally is far better administered than 10 years ago.
“Are we really going to sit here and watch one irresponsible moron put us back 15 years?”
Fellow angler Chris Fundrey said: “What absolute cobblers. I have caught many fish and put them back with no side-effects at all.”
Another fisherman said on an internet forum: “Green is a bloody idiot and to go on TV and state that 90 per cent of all fish caught and released will die is a disgrace.”
In an email response to one protester, a spokesman in the BBC complaints department said: “Robson Green was passionate about fishing and lyrical in his description of the experience.
“It was an extremely positive view of the sport and very likely to encourage interest.
“Nevertheless, we are sorry if you were concerned.”
Green, a keen fly fisherman, has won praise for his TV fishing series.
He says of it: “From the Australian wilderness to the edge of the Arctic, I’m going up river and into the oceans chasing some of the most exciting, strangest and outrageous fish on the planet.”
Locations also include Canada, New Zealand, the US and Alaska.
Robson Green heads to Panama in his latest fishing adventure…
Did you have an interesting time in Panama ?
It’s an amazing part of the world, absolutely. One of my lasting images is of the cars — they all have blackened windows. Everyone’s involved in something covert.
Chicho seemed like a bit of a character…
He was cocky and confident but there was an edge to the man. Did you notice I was being incredibly sycophantic towards him? Whenever he said something funny, or even tried to be funny, I laughed out loud. I was incredibly over the top with all my reactions because I didn’t want to die !
You did seem to get on with him very well !
What we didn’t show was that he said his fishing was better than sex, so there was an oddity to the man. I said, ‘Chicho, you’re on TV, you’re going out round the world, your wife may be watching — are you saying catching a bass is better than having sex with your wife ?’
And he said, ‘Yeah man, yeah man’. So I turned to the camera and said, ‘Vanya, darling, there’s no way that catching a bass is anywhere near having sex with you !’.
The Embera tribe weren’t happy when you came back with no fish !
Well, they were going without. But it didn’t take an expert to work that we weren’t going to catch anything. The river was in flood. It was incredibly warm, so the oxygen content was low. Any fish in there would not be active, they would be completely dormant. Plus the water was murky and we were using a method of fishing that depended on sight.
We should have been using bait, so the fish would go for it. But not every contributor I come across is a fishing expert. They talk a good talk sometimes and that man genuinely wanted to feed 31 people !
In next week’s final episode you appear in a play in India as a female fish — how did that come about ?
They hear I’m in town — obviously, I’m an incredibly popular actor in Europe! — and I think I’m being cast as a lead character. But, to boil it down to its basics, it’s a lot of blokes in make-up poncing around dancing, with over the top acting.
Not me at all ! So I go in there thinking I’m playing the lead then I find out I’m in the background playing a female fish. In the show, I do say to the director, ‘Can I have a word about the billing ?’. The performance goes down like a fart in a space suit — it’s awful — and I leave the building.
What else can we see you in ?
I’ve just finished Being Human, where I play a werewolf, and I’m in Waterloo Road as Amanda Burton’s romantic interest. I’m also going on another fishing adventure, this time to the ends of the earth. I’ve been around the globe now I’m going to the bottom — to Siberia, then up to the edge of the North Pole, then down to the south. I’m going to Essential Island, South America, Argentina — it’s an amazing experience.
Interview by Linda Gibson – 23 November 2011
Photo : Robson with a tigerfish in Zambia
In the back of a chauffeur-driven car near his home in west London, Robson Green is reminiscing about an extraordinary trip he’s just returned from, a world away on Unhocomozinho island in Guinea-Bissau.
He visited this island, which has a population of just 80 and has been dubbed the wild west of Africa, while making his second series of Extreme Fishing, due to start on Channel 5 next week.
It’s a sport in which the angler aims to land some of the wildest and most elusive and exotic sea creatures in the world.
“It was the most incredible experience,” he says. “I’ve loved fishing since my early teens, ever since I fished in the tranquil rivers of the North-east with my uncle Matheson, who is one of the finest fly fishermen you’ll ever come across – he turned fishing into poetry for me.
The very first time I went with him I caught a fish and when that happens you are hooked as well as the fish.
“We cooked and ate the trout and I found it a life-affirming experience at the exact moment of the bite, a primitive feeling rushes through the body and that is incredibly addictive.
“As an actor what I’ve done for most of my life is to be other people, some- thing that you cannot really class as ‘normal’ but fishing takes you back to basics, how we acquired quarry in order to live, and that is something I found pretty profound.”
Born Robson Golightly Green the 45-year-old Geordie grew up in a small mining village in North Tyneside where his late father, who was also called Robson, worked as a miner.
On leaving school at 17 he tried his hand as a shipyard draftsman, a professional boxer and guitarist in a band called Solid State, later making his name as a TV actor on Casualty playing an orderly called Jimmy. When in 1995 Robson and Jerome Flynn, his then co-star in TV’s Soldier
Soldier, sang Unchained Melody on the show the production company was inundated with viewers – mainly women – desperate to buy the song.
Never one to miss a moment of TV magic it was a then low- profile promoter called Simon Cowell who persuaded the duo to release the song as a single.
The track stayed at the top of the charts for seven weeks, shifting almost two million copies and making it the best-selling single of that year. Just to make things really cosy Cowell even introduced Robson to his future wife model Vanya Seager now the mother of his 10-year-old son Taylor.
From then on Rob- son’s destiny to be the “housewife’s favourite” was sealed and he seemed to be rarely off TV appearing in dramas such as Touching Evil, Grafters, Northern Lights, Reckless and Wire In The Blood.
It’s been a while since that sex symbol heyday but does he miss it? “Not at all, I think even I got sick of seeing me. It was definite overkill.
At one point I was on BBC and ITV at the same time, 9 o’clock prime time. I was effectively battling against myself with Wire In The Blood on one side and Rocket Man on the other. It was just lunacy.
“My father was my greatest critic and there were times when he would ring me up and say, ‘I hope you weren’t paid for that.’ I committed the cardinal sin of sometimes taking the job when the script just wasn’t good enough.
But that’s the actors’ dilemma, you know that you’re only as good as your last job so you feel you’ve got to keep working all the time when really you should sit back and be experienced enough to choose carefully.”
Now he’s had time to reinvent himself as something of a real-life action man, catching marlin rather than just a leading lady, travelling across the world to 14 countries on four continents casting off in nine seas and oceans, rivers and saltwater flats. Filming means being away from home, often on the other side of the world, for 10 days to four weeks at a time.
He says that Vanya is perfectly used to having a husband who has to go away on location because she knows the industry only too well. But how does his son Taylor feel about it ?
“Well I do feel that I’m missing out on his growing up. I can be away for a week and suddenly he’s doing algebra. He’s developing at a frightening rate.
“But Taylor approves anyway because a few years back we were fly - fishing in our local village and on his second catch he caught a trout that broke the record that had been held there for 20 years. A chip off the old block indeed.
“My son has given me a proper sense of perspective, of values, of realising there’s more to life than poncing around in front of a camera.”
Fans of Robson who are not so keen on watching his fi shing antics will be pleased to hear that he will be joining the cast of Waterloo Road and next year his character, a mild- mannered janitor, is set to have plenty of sexy scenes with headteacher Karen Fisher, played by Amanda Burton, something for which he admits he is getting in shape for.
“I feel I owe it to Amanda to look as good as possible,” he smiles. “I will also be starring in a new drama called Being Human as a werewolf. Taylor definitely approves of that.”
One thing he tends not to do is take his wife and son to Extreme Fishing locations because there are health and safety issues.
“For example, in the Brooks Peninsula off the coast of Canada, I really thought it was the end for me,” he admits.
“We were caught in a force nine gale, which is just two miles an hour under a hurricane, 36 hours of hell ensued and I have never been so scared in all my life.
This was the first time I confronted my own mortality I guess and I was very angry with myself for getting into that situation.
I should have forced the skipper to turn round and go back. It was terrifying, the most frightening experience I’ve ever had.”
But clearly this has not put him off his job and when I asked him which location he has enjoyed the most he immediately says the Amazon.
He recalls: “Where else can you travel seven hours up the jungle to a place called Jarua where there’s no one in the village and you’re wondering where they all are? Then you find out that the men have gone fishing.
“You look round the corner and all the women are playing football. All brilliant footballers, they let us join in and we got slaughtered. They kicked like mules and they would have put Newcastle United to shame.”
Once I have found Quest TV of my Freesat box, I am very much looking forward to seeing Green’s new series.
An episode in the Solomon Islands involving red ants and a local hallucinogen sounds especially Monday-night friendly.
On television (and as I have discovered today, in person too) Green is a great guy to fish with.
He knows a lot, but wears the knowledge lightly: “I never have and never will present myself as an expert.”
His enthusiasm, by contrast, is irrepressible.
“Fishing just makes complete sense to me; that meditative awareness of where you are, what you’re doing there, and why you’re doing it.”
We return the tackle to our convivial Clapham hosts, and following a final selfie session prepare to skedaddle.
Green says: “I’ve visited nearly 90 countries now doing this show, and there are only 196 of them in the world ! But there are still plenty of places I want to fish that I haven’t; the Andaman Islands, Easter Island, the Seychelles, Bermuda ...”.
I, meanwhile, head towards the Victoria Line. That’s all I’ll be catching today.
ROBSON GREEN EXTREME FISHERMAN
Luke Leitch and his hero Robson Green go in search of the elusive Clapham Common carp.
Sharks in Senegal, stingrays in South Australia, sardines in Sri Lanka, salmon in Siberia – and those are just the S’s.
In the company of Robson Green, I’ve seen some of the world’s most beautiful rivers and coastlines, and chased some incredible fish along the way.
Of course only Green was physically there: rod in hand and effervescent with the unadulterated enthusiasm for piscine pursuit that makes him such an engaging vicarious fishing companion. I, meanwhile, was sitting on my sofa, enraptured by Extreme Fishing With Robson Green.
This is a show that combines the fish-flavoured cosmology of Izaak Walton with the derring-do of John Buchan via the knowingly-knockabout howay delivery of its presenter. As you might have gathered, I’m a fan. And today I really am fishing with Robson Green.
Unfortunately, Robson has a meeting with ITV at midday. I have fashion pages to proof. So time is of the essence. Yet the nearest sailfish (“they’re 250 pounds, they go at seventy miles an hour: they’re hydrodynamically perfect”) is flashing through the briny somewhere off Costa Rica.
Extreme Fishing is extremely hard to find in central London – so this morning we are fishing for carp on Clapham Common.
We are here because after five years broadcasting 'Extreme Fishing’, Channel 5 has unfathomably allowed this whopper of a show, its most entertaining by far, to get away.
Blessedly, the Discovery Network has swooped like a seagull chasing a chip and commissioned Green to make a slightly tweaked version called “Extreme Fisherman” – which is currently being broadcast in the UK on Quest TV.
Beggars can’t be choosers, and yet Green confesses as we approach the pond that he is unsure about carp fishing.
It’s not the fish – “I’ve eaten carp in India, Thailand, China ... oh, they were massive, big-eyed carp in China. Huge ! Beautiful ! The quality of the water is fantastic ! ” - but more the people who fish for them.
Some catch-and-release anglers have criticised his catch-and-consume penchant for game fishing.
Green, though, insists “if you are fishing with rod and line you are not putting a dent into numbers – we are not pillaging the oceans. If anything it is the anglers who care for the rivers and oceans. We are the ones who pay our rod licences and who check the environment is intact and healthy ... but that feeling when you get when the float goes on the line !
A huge rush goes through your body. I swear it is your forefathers calling – that is the hunter-gatherer in you. By design we are meant to eat fish, they taste bloody good and they are superb for you.”
At the pond our prospects seem bleak. The sun is already high in the sky – it’s definitely not carp o’clock. But the locals are enchanting. Dr Iain Boulton, the park’s officer, a 22-year-old named Jack Moss who has been fishing here for years and who keeps the pond clean, and anglers Paul Tubby and Andrew Pearson are almost as eager to lend us their tackle as they are to take selfies with Green.
The flushed proprietress of a nearby sandwich van gives him a free cup of tea. As we circle the pond in search of effective camera angles, Green casts effortlessly. With his direction I try one, left-handed – my first cast in over a decade – and try not to look too chuffed as the line arcs towards Clapham North.
Green was taught to fish from the age of seven by his uncle, Matheson.
“He had a beautiful ballet-like action, fantastic. Fly fishing is about feel, and he got me into that. Once you catch a fish on the fly it is very difficult to go and use a different method.”
Green duly passed Matheson’s lessons “to 'think fish’, and understand the light, and the water temperature” on to his son Taylor (there is a family tradition of using surnames as givens). Taylor used to fish quite a bit but, at “14 going on 15”, understandably has other interests at the moment.
As an actor, Green has had a highly successful career most often playing handsomely approachable heroes after the template of Soldier Soldier. There was also the pop career with Jerome Flynn, that saw Robson and Jerome’s cover of Unchained Melody become the biggest selling single of 1995.
Between casts, one of the Clapham anglers matily (with an undertow of something less so) inquires when their next release will be – “you could do Fog On The Tyne !” - and Green winces. “That,” he says: “was my Vietnam.”
Extreme Fishing – now Extreme Fisherman – started when a producer named Hamish Barber read an interview conducted with Green while on location in Texas, in which he mentioned in passing his love of fly fishing.
“The Texan thought I meant catching flies,” but Barber thought Green should do a fishing show. Green demurred, but Barber explained the concept – travelling to incredible places in search of incredible fish – and the actor was (sorry) hooked.
As we fail to catch any carp, Green shares some cracking fishing tales. Local knowledge is the key to a successful expedition, but sometimes the locals don’t know much.
There was a hapless Siberian who left them salmon-less in sub-zero temperatures for six days: “never visit Kabarovsk”.
Or the twitchy redneck in Tennessee “the wheel was still turning but the hamster had died” who made Green think his fate was to perish in a real-life remake of Deliverance.
He has genuinely feared death twice while filming the show, most of all at sea in a hurricane off Okinawa. “I thought if nothing else, Taylor will have a great story to tell his mates – that would have been an extreme death.”
The most breathtaking place he has fished, says Green: “has to be Mongolia. We went to a spot so secret and untouched we were forbidden from saying exactly where it was – we were after the taimen, which is very hard to find.”
And sometimes those locals see Green and his crew coming: “You know in Sri Lanka they do the stilt fishing for sardines ? Beautiful. We paid 40 of them a fiver to help us shoot. It was sunset, backlit, magical – I was the last one into the shot. But as soon as I arrived they all hopped off home.
They’d been paid and they knew there were no fish. It was the wrong time of year. That’s why you always seek local knowledge !”
THAT FISHERMAN ROBSON GREEN – WASN'T HE AN ACTOR ONCE ?
Loud, lairy and blokey ... Robson Green in Robson's Extreme Fishing Challenge.
No names, no pack drill and all that. But it's not hard to come up with a long list of actors and celebs who will do anything to get television airtime. In the lulls between drama series or films, they always seem to have time for a guest appearance on chat shows, quiz shows, cookery shows, sitcoms, reality shows. Anything with a camera, really.
Robson Green seems to be an exception. Having carved out a successful career as a lead actor in some extremely popular television dramas – the less said about his singing career the better – Green appears to have turned his back on anything that interrupts his fishing.
At least, that's how it feels. It's been six years since Channel 5 handed him his dream job of flying to all corners of the world to catch the biggest and weirdest fish he can find in Wikipedia, and I can't remember him doing anything else in this period.
I can't imagine he was short of offers. His fishing show started off as Extreme Fishing, but once he had fished in all the places that might reasonably be described as extreme, it morphed into Robson's Extreme Fishing Challenge (Channel 5). Which meant it maintained almost exactly the same format, apart from the contrived addition of a meaningless competition against other local fishermen.
I'm sure this programme plays to all my basest instincts. It's loud, lairy and blokey and there's no pretence that anyone's terribly interested in "fragile marine ecosystems", the trademark angst of every other fishing show. It's just all about the fish.
Catching them and – if possible – eating them. I'm fairly sure the only ones Robson puts back alive are those either too disgusting to eat or ones its illegal to keep. And yet I can't help loving it. I loved it when it first appeared and I love it still, even though I know I'm basically watching the same show over and over again.
The fishing is by-the-by; it's Robson that makes it so worth watching. He's always been a natural presenter, but far from becoming more and more of an open book he's becoming more enigmatic as each series progresses. When the show started, his habit of calling himself a "poncey Geordie actor" had a certain truth, for it was as an actor that he was principally known.
But the longer he rests from his old day job, the more puzzling it all becomes. Does he really still see himself primarily as an actor? And why did the Tasmanians in this episode play along with it? Or does he only go to locations where Wire in the Blood is showing for the first time?
Robson often likes to give the impression of someone who is happy taking the mickey out of his thespian self. But he goes on and on about it so much that I now can't help feeling he takes that persona rather more seriously than he would like everyone to think. It's as if he's playing Nigel Planer's "I an Actor" as postmodern realism. Robson is either giving the performance of his life or having the time of it. Either way, it works for me.
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'The cheeky Robson Green joins Magic 105.4, London's favourite radio station, for a chat.'
5 Novembre 2013
Much-loved British actor Robson Green dropped by Magic Book Club to chat to Angie Greaves to talk about his book 'Extreme Fishing'.
In this hilarious interview Robson talks about his Channel 5 show of the same name, where the book came from, and some of his out-of-this-world experiences he has had making the programme. You won't believe some of them !
About the book
Actor and passionate fisherman Robson Green is on a mission to discover the weird, the wonderful and the way-off-limits that the angling world has to offer. Working alongside some of the finest in their field, his exhilarating adventure series Extreme Fishing with Robson Green takes him to the greatest fishing destinations ever seen; chasing the most elusive and terrifying creatures on the planet, learning new tricks, hearing old stories and eating pretty much everything he catches.
From ice fishing in Siberia, mining eggs on the side of an active volcano in Papua New Guinea and struggling with the Mekong Giant Catfish in Thailand, to surviving a Force 10 hurricane on a Canadian trawler, catching a thirty-pound King Salmon in Patagonia and dancing the Salsa in Havana, this is an extraordinary modern-day fishing odyssey with tales of victory, defeat, struggle and joy. Complete with exclusive off-camera capers, top locations and best and worst catches, this laugh-out-loud adventure is jam-packed full of facts, fishing tips and, most importantly, fun.
Magicfm - 5 Novembre 2013
Vidéos de deux interviews de Robson Green au sujet de son livre 'Extreme Fishing'
' EXTREME FISHING ' BY ROBSON GREEN (ÉDITIONS SIMON & SCHUSTER)
Robson Green is ringing me from Hungary. “I’m brilliant,” he says. “Brilliant !”
Having spent the previous evening speeding through Robson’s new book, Extreme Fishing, it’s hard to believe he’s in Hungary for anything other than a particularly challenging stretch of river.
In fact, it’s pretty hard to divorce my mental image of Robson from his many piscatorial conquests, despite the fact that I’ve seen him many times in acting roles on stage and screen.
The book, relating his adventures as the presenter of Channel 5’s Extreme Fishing, is fantastically fishy, which will probably come as good news to those who fancy buying it.
There are loads of photos and Robson’s in nearly every one of them, happily and triumphantly posing with fish like a red carpet groupie snatching self-portraits squeezing bemused celebs.
There are enormous fish, ferocious-looking fish, relatively tiddly (but possibly rascally) fish and fish that look like the products of a satirical cartoonist’s wild imagination.
On the cover, a smiling Robson is cradling the grandaddy of all goldfish.
Clearly it isn’t a goldfish, since that would hardly fulfil the “extreme” remit of Robson’s enormously popular TV series but, equally clearly, this is a fish that has seen no need for camouflage – until, quite possibly, Robson rolled up with his rod and his camera crew, at which point it was too late.
But Robson, it transpires, is rodless in Hungary. He is filming Strike Back, the action-packed Sky1 series based on the novels of former SAS man Chris Ryan, another creative powerhouse from the North East.
“I auditioned in LA,” says Robson. “Chris Ryan brought me over because he obviously thought I was the best person to play the lieutenant colonel of a crack SAS unit fighting a terror cell.
“It’s great – a step up for me in terms of production values. All the stunts are real and I love that. What you see is actually happening.
“Yesterday I took out four guys on a Cold War listening post and all four fell 150 feet ! The crew went, OK, let’s move on’.”
He laughs loudly. If he’s a trifle bemused to find himself leading an SAS unit at the age of 48, that’s nothing compared to his feelings about fishing.
In jovially confessional mood, he says: “I never set myself up as a fishing expert or even a particularly experienced fisherman.
“This is one of my main failings. I always think, yes, that’s a really great idea, without fully thinking it through. Then, when it’s too late, reality sets in.”
The decision to get involved in a fishing series, he says, reminds him of when he agreed to play Jesus in the York Mystery Plays and the critic Victor Lewis Smith wrote that he couldn’t imagine why anyone would follow him across the stage, let alone Israel.
He looks back on the Jesus episode as one of his “Vietnam moments”, the other being his brief singing career with fellow actor Jerome Flynn.
To be fair, a lot of people bought the records. And to be fair twice in a paragraph, an awful lot of people have tuned into Extreme Fishing. They must have done since there were several series and it spawned a spin-off, Robson’s Extreme Fishing Challenge.
In the book – and on the phone from Hungary – Robson hilariously lays his soul bare, describing himself as “a half-decent actor and a half-decent presenter” and revealing his disastrous early attempts to be an on-screen fishing expert.
He chortles as he recalls the wonderfully descriptive narrative he’d have in his head until the fish he was catching finally emerged from the water, when he would blurt: “******* hell! Look at the size of that !”
He reflects: “I approached presenting with a confidence that was wholly unwarranted.”
There’s much more of this in the book – the nervous waffle and the voice in his head saying things like “Why the hell are you doing this, Robson ?”, and “You’re winging it and dying on your a***.”
To me from Hungary he says: “You don’t have to love fishing to like this book.”
He is absolutely right. It’s a book of fish and quips in which he doesn’t spare himself a right old battering. It lifts the lid on how TV is made – the many wasted hours and redundant footage that goes into creating a relative spoonful of prime time documentary.
Robson is generous with his credit for Charlotte Reather who, while not perhaps a ghost writer, collaborated with him on the book that publishers had apparently been pestering him about for years.
“I had a training guy many years ago who looked after me and he was a cage fighter. That’s what he did in the evenings, as you do.
“Charlotte happened to be there one night and we started talking. She worked for a magazine called The Field. Instantly, we had a rapport. She was fun and not stuck up.
“When I was approached again about a book by Simon & Schuster I thought there was only one person who could write it. I rang Charlotte and she loved the idea.
“I’d always written diaries on location so between us we came up with a draft and they didn’t alter a word. I think it’s a really nice travelogue – quite moving, quite joyous and quite tragic.”
As well as the mishaps and the mis-takes, Robson recalls learning of the death of his father while filming in a Buddhist temple in Thailand. “He moved on to a good place, but he is still here with you,” said one of the monks consolingly.
To me, he recalls: “My dad hated being cooped up in the house because he’d spent much of his time underground. I think that’s in my DNA, making me want to do things and experience things around the world.”
The fishing programmes have been a wonderful vehicle for that wanderlust, as you’ll see in the book which flits from continent to continent, from Alaska to Brazil and Papua New Guinea.
Fish, observes Robson, tend to be found in beautiful places, many of which he has now visited.
And he’s not quite the fishing novice he makes out. Tutored by his Uncle Matheson, Robson learned the joys of fly fishing and says that this, above all other pastimes, is where he turns for peace of mind and to escape all thoughts of those Vietnam moments.
When not on his travels, Robson is back living in Northumberland these days. Separated from second wife Vanya, he nevertheless remains close to his son Taylor, who, on the day we speak, is mentioned in The Times, having won an academic scholarship to a very good school in the south of England.
Robson is understandably proud. Taylor, aged 13, is a clever lad, it seems, a budding academic and sportsman.
As for Robson, we’ll be seeing quite a bit of him shortly. Some book signing sessions have been organised to promote Extreme Fishing and he is also in the process of making some documentary programmes which don’t involve fish.
How the North Was Built, looking at the urban landscape of Northern England, is a two-parter going out on ITV in June, while Robson’s Northumberland is an eight-parter destined for the same channel.
“One episode will look at the battle of Flodden but I think we’ll be looking at some of the places that are a bit off the beaten track,” he says.
“We’ll do Bamburgh and Holy Island and the Cheviots, but I think there will be some surprises too.”
In terms of work, Robson says he is now in the fortunate position of being able to pick and choose. Who wouldn’t choose that ?
TV favourite Robson Green casts his net wide with a brand new series of Robson's Extreme Fishing Challenge.
Robson travels the world doing a pastime he loves...
As the star of Channel 5's hugely popular Extreme Fishing Challenge, Robson Green counts himself as prety lucky.
Having spent the past five years travelling the world, while enjoying his favourite pastime, he's landed the cushiest job of his career.
" It's tough, but I suppose someone's got to do it, " grins the star, who first shot to fame as Fusilier Dave Tucker in ITV drama Soldier Soldier in the early 1990s.
" My friends think I'm a jammy Geordie git, " he adds. Tehy'll be chuffed to know, then, that it wasn't all plain sailing for the amateur fisherman while making the latest series of the show.
" I went into a cave in Mozambique to catch an electric catfsh and very quickly realised what a stupid, smelly and ludicrous idea it was," he recalls. " I lasted 10 minutes, by which time I was covered from head to foot in bat poo ! "
In fact, Robson faced a series of dramas while flming the new eight-parter, which begins this week on Channel 5.
Journeying to remote locations in countries such as Iceland and Hawaii, and taking on some of the world's greatest fshermen, he found himself eye to eye with the fastest shark on the planet, a 300lb mako, and, on another occasion, heading towards a force-9 storm.
" That was a very hairy moment," Robson reveals. " We were on a ferry in Iceland and, as it started to get rough, the captain went a funny shade of grey and I ended up losing my lunch. Thankfully, we were able to turn back. "
In episode one, Robson journeys more than 10,000 miles to a place so far fung that even Australians think it's " down under ".
Tasmania, an undiscovered fshing Shangri-la, boasts the cleanest air, the purest rivers and some of the most unpolluted coastline in the world.
There, Robson took on a Tasmanian champion and batled with a world record holder. He also caught a fsh of a lifetime, the exlusive elephant fsh, and came face to face with the paparazzi as he discovered the extent of his fame there.
But beating the Tasmanian locals wasn't easy - these expert fishermen land more fsh per hour than any anglers in Australasia and are the proud owners of 20 national game fish records.
" I'd learned from the experts in previous series the natural indicators to look out for, the speed of retrieve to use, the best lures for certain types of fish. I felt much more confdent this time. "
With another series of the show already in the pipeline and a host of other TV projects on the go - including joining the cast of Sky1's Strike Back and flming new ITV documentary How The North Was Built - Robson's busier than ever.
" It's a nice problem to have, balancing acting and fishing, " muses Robson.
" I do feel incredibly lucky, but I'm also a great believer that the harder you work, the luckier you get. "
Robson et son père Robson Senior, surnommé Big Rob par ses amis.
"My Rock , well, more a mountain."
ROBSON GREEN IN ROBSON'S EXTREME FISHING CHALLENGE
Robson Green packs his bags again as he jets off to take on skilled anglers abroad…
You’ve been through some quite dangerous situations in Robson’s Extreme Fishing Challenge…
Yes, but I’m getting to that stage of my life where health and safety are three words very close to my heart. There comes a point where I’ve gone, ‘No, I’m not going out in a force seven gale now.’ I once went out in a hurricane and that was the only time I became a religious person. I’m an aethist, but just for this one fleeting moment I believed in the Almighty! There was an instance in Alaska in the final episode of this series, where a rip came [a kind of converging current going against the tide] and it just threw us around like a cork in a washing machine.
How does your insurance work out ?
I’m very cheap! Once, in New Zealand the production team thought it would be a really good idea if I jumped out of an aeroplane, with a parachute and a fishing rod. They’d booked it all, but I said, ‘What have you been smoking now? Because I’m not ****ing gonna do it!’ They went, ‘Oh, we’ve got a great idea, you’ll do the training, we’ll film it.’ I’m going, ‘No I won’t!’ ‘You’re going to jump out of a plane!’ ‘No, I’m not! Didn’t you think of asking me before?’ No, I wasn’t going to do it.
It must be a nice feeling to have created a series which goes back to basics…
Yeah. We celebrate subsistence fishing, and we celebrate, in the same vein, the guys in the big boats who take out clientele from the Ferrari set, and go out and spend thousands and thousands of pounds just going out to catch a marlin. I get a bigger kick out of going out with guys who just converse with nature and catch fish for the family, then go back to the house and we eat it, we talk and we’re like-minded, you know.
Do you take your son Taylor fishing ?
Yeah, he loves it. He held a lake record in Surrey for a year and a half! He caught a 10.5lb rainbow trout, and I was just teaching him to fly fish. Fly fishing is very, very difficult, I don’t care what anyone says, and I’m still learning. I was just teaching him to understand how the line kind of flicks out, there’s no weight, the line is the weight, and there’s a rhythm, and as he was flicking the line out this huge fish took, and he got the lake record. But the woman who’d held it for years and years was along the bank and she was devastated because an eight-year-old had completely pummelled her! He’s 11 now, he’s rising 12.
You must have been very chuffed with your role in Being Human last year (when Robson played a werewolf.) What are you up to next ?
Yeah, Being Human was great. My agent is putting me up for a kind of eclectic smorgasbord of drama. I’ll be in Sky 1’s Mount Pleasant later this year, and with my production company we’re developing a book by Val McDermid [who wrote Wire In The Blood, in which Robson starred] Distant Echo, which will be shot in Canada.
Robson Green never intended to swim to the Holy Island, off his native Northumbria, in the memory of his father…
Was the death of your father the inspiration for the programme ?
It wasn’t in the script at all. It didn’t have anything to do with my dad when we first started. It was a travelogue about coming across idyllic, beautiful and serene parts of Britain – and the undiscovered – through the mode of outdoor swimming. That was our objective.
What changed ?
I’d lost my dad three months prior to filming and I mentioned it to the director, and he asked how I felt about talking about my dad. I said no, that it would be indulgent and would undermine his integrity and his life. He was an amazing man and his death was a private affair.
He said that was fine but asked me what it was that reminded me about my dad and I said, ‘He taught me to swim’. Then all this imagery started to present itself that I just couldn’t ignore. Out of one story another one emerged that started to be quite interesting, personal and overwhelming.
So how did the Holy Island swim come about ?
I didn’t see it coming, Holy Island. It had nothing to do with the script, that wasn’t even in it. The whole story was about me and the Corryvreckan Whirlpool in Scotland in episode two. It’s the third largest whirlpool in the world — that was the objective, that was going to be the end of the two-part programme. Then we come back to the Northeast, I’ve overcome adversity and self doubt and I’ve achieved something.
But there was Holy Island and my dad, who’d swum the British coastline, had never swum there, and I didn’t know why. When we made a few phone calls, no one had ever done it and it’s just looking at you, like that… it’s the cradle of Christianity. I’m not a religious man but look at it, it’s just asking to be swam to.
Why not make that the objective ?
So this arc just developed. Dad then became a driving force and it became in honour of him, really. And a celebration of the life he led, and how important a person he was, and his ilk.
Robson Green tells how his new travelogue became a very personal journey.
There's something slightly obsessive about Robson Green.
This is not a criticism, though, because it’s this very aspect of his character that makes his factual shows so entertaining. So it is with Wild Swimming Adventure, his in-at-the- deep-end documentary for ITV1.
Having also filmed two series of Extreme Fishing, 44-year-old Green clearly has a thing about water.
His latest two-part offering follows the actor’s desire to reclaim his childhood experiences swimming with his late father, Robson Senior.
Not at the local leisure centre, mind you, but in the rivers, seas, tidal pools and lakes of Britain.
In two very personal films, Green travels the country with a desire to promote “wild swimming” and uncovers a subculture of dedicated (some might say mad) proponents of this dogged athletic pursuit. The films are shot from the surface of the water, providing the viewer with a swimmer’s eye view, which, given the trying weather conditions throughout filming, will chill your body as you watch.
The programmes conclude with his attempt to swim to Holy Island in Northumberland in an emotionally-charged ending.
The documentaries, says Green, were first conceived as travelogue but became far more personal in the making.
“Alison Sharman at ITV said, ‘The reason we’re asking you to do this is that I think there’s something else in this story’. It wasn’t supposed to be about my dad [who died last February, aged 73], or overcoming self-doubt, which I think is ultimately what it became about.
“Alison had said, ‘How do you feel about swimming the Tyne ?’ and I thought, ‘Yes; it’s got travelogue, history, cold, the bridges, coal, identity...’ and then gradually it dawned on me that it really was about family and Dad after all.
“Initially I’d thought, ‘I don’t want to talk about Dad, it’s too private and precious’. I worried that doing so would undermine his integrity and devalue his work but I think we got it right. Some of it was too much, so we aren’t broadcasting those scenes.”
Hexham-born Green does indeed swim the Tyne but with dramatic results. His body shuts down after 200 yards and he has to be pulled from the water.
The actor reveals he hadn’t considered the Holy Island swim initially.
ROBSON GREEN ON WILD SWIMMING, EXTREME FISHING AND HOW HE RELAXES WHEN HOME IN SURREY.
One of our best-loved TV stars, Robson Green has barely been off our screens of late. Here, the West Clandon resident chats to Emma Roberts about everything from wild swimming and extreme fishing to how he relaxes when hes back at home in Surrey.
He may have swum in the freezing waters of the Tyne, caught tiger fish under the treacherous rapids of Victoria Falls and even eaten the potentially fatal delicacy Anori Fugu in Japan, but for intrepid adventurer Robson Green, nothing beats getting back home to the peace and quiet of West Clandon.
While it might not be good for his tough guy image, away from all the drama of his two latest TV series, ITV1s Wild Swimming and Channel 5s Extreme Fishing, he admits that he cant wait to get back to the quiet life of rural Surrey.
I just love the serenity, the tranquillity and the pace of life here, says the 45-year-old, who lives in West Clandon with his wife Vanya and their son, Taylor, nine. It has such a great vibe, and I feel very content and happy in this area. I love the architecture, too. Theres just something quintessentially English about the village.
Going with the flow
Its certainly a world away from the places he visited during his recent two-part documentary, Wild Swimming, in which he braved some of the most dangerous, coldest waters in Britain.
It was tough and I really had to prepare, he admits. I had to train very hard last year for the series. I would have been in serious trouble if I hadnt! Im absolutely indebted actually to my personal trainer, Jon Ashwood, at David Lloyd in Weybridge. I couldnt have done it without him.
Among the most dangerous places he swam were the storm-battered River Cam in Cambridge, the famous Llynn Lladraw Lake in Snowdonia and even the daunting Corryvreckan whirlpool in Scotland.
However, it was the loss of his beloved father a year ago that inspired him to attempt the ultimate challenge a three-mile swim to Holy Island, through the crashing icy waves off the Northumberland coast, where his father used to swim. It was then that a simple travelogue became not only a physical and mental journey but a deeply emotional one, too.
It didnt start out as an emotional journey, far from it, but it became one, he says. The memory of my father kept me going during a lot of the extreme swims and suddenly the whole series became something else to me. It became a very personal experience, and I wasnt expecting that at all.
My father used to swim a lot a total contrast to his job as a coal-miner !
I guess it was the freedom of being in the water that he liked, and he instilled that love of swimming in me.
Ive always loved water, and wild swimming is an incredible experience, not least because you get to see the landscape and coastlines from a totally different perspective.
After weeks of filming in the freezing waters of the UK, its hardly surprising that warmer climes were beckoning and following on from the success of his first two series of Extreme Fishing, he then embarked on an epic journey around the globe for Extreme Fishing The World Tour.
During the four-month expedition, Robson not only managed to land some of the most incredible fish in the world, but to experience some of the most remarkable places on earth from Kenya, Cuba and China to Japan, Brazil and America.
I've had so much fun doing the Extreme Fishing series, says Robson. My uncle taught me to fish, and Im sure hes looking down now and saying, you jammy Geordie git !
The series is very much a document of the way people live, the way cultures behave and the way people depend on fishing for their survival.
At the end of the day, its just a bloke knocking about the world going fishing, really, but it kind of works !
Born in North Tyneside, Robson grew up a long way from Surrey, in the small mining village of Dudley, and began his career as a draughtsman for the Swan Hunter shipyard. But a love for acting and singing led him back to his local drama centre one night a week, and it was while performing in a play there that he was spotted by a casting agent.
This led to a role in the BBC drama series Casualty, and Robson went on to gain national prominence in the early Nineties playing Fusilier Dave Tucker in ITVs Soldier Soldier opposite Jerome Flynn. Unbeknown to him, however, fate was about to take a rather unexpected turn. In one episode, the script called for Robson and his co-star to sing Unchained Melody and, within hours, ITV was inundated with calls from viewers looking to buy the song.
When a little known music promoter called Simon Cowell then persuaded them to release it as a single, it went on to sell more than 1.9 million copies, getting to No 1 for seven weeks and becoming the best-selling single of the year. Robson & Jerome, as they were now known, went on to have two more chart-topping singles and a N° 1 album.
It was a very surreal experience, remembers Robson. It was like living in a Jacques Tati movie! But I loved every minute of it.
These events were to continue to change his life when he met Simon Cowells then assistant, Vanya, who is now his wife. They married at Cliveden House in Berkshire in 2001 after having their son, Taylor, a year before. Robson is also stepfather to Vanyas daughter, Larushka, 23, from a previous relationship.
But what was it that brought them to the quiet village of West Clandon ?
Well, years ago, an actor friend of mine, Gavin Kitchen, lived in Bisley, explains Robson. Anyway, I came down to visit and went for a drink in the Onslow Arms in Clandon.
Then, years later, Vanya and I were looking at a house in the village, when I saw the pub and said, I've been here before ! I called him there and then and, unbelievably, he was living in the village as well, just up the road from the pub ! So, that was it. West Clandon for us ! And we've been here now for ten years !
Star of the screen
Certainly one of the areas best-known residents, Robson has barely been away from our TV screens over the last few years, with memorable roles such as George Stevenson in Rocket Man (2005), the moving story of a mans attempts to build a rocket to take his late wifes ashes to the stars, and Colin Armstrong in the acclaimed Northern Lights (2006) and subsequent spin-offs City Lights (2007) and Christmas Lights (2009).
Along with co-producer and business partner Sandra Jobling, he has also produced his own TV shows, including six series of the acclaimed Wire in the Blood (2007/08) in which he played Dr Tony Hill.
Acting is my first love, my passion... he says. Although I had a great time doing Wild Swimming and Extreme Fishing, Im not a presenter and, to be honest, Im not really that good at it ! Fortunately, Ive got some really great acting roles coming up, and its all very exciting.
First, Im doing a one-off film for TV called Joe Maddisons War, written by the wonderful playwright Alan Plater, and then Im starting on a production about the inventor of the steam locomotive, George Stephenson. So it's back to my drama roots !
But dont be fooled into thinking his adventures are all over just yet because he still has one burning ambition.
Definitely space travel, he says. Id like to travel Virgin Galactic one day ! I really dont think its that far off, and its something I would love to do.
So, no settling down with his pipe and slippers in Surrey just yet then.
My Favourite Surrey
Restaurant: I really like The Anchor in Ripley. They have a great Thai restaurant. Im always there having lunch! I also love The Talbot Inn in Ripley.
Shop: Im always in the local garden centre, too, at Clandon Park, so that would definitely be up there among my favourites!
View: I love going walking at Newlands Corner, in the Surrey Hills, so it would have to be the spectacular view across the countryside from there.
Place to chill: I enjoy fishing on the lakes at Clandon, and thats definitely very relaxing. Certainly compared with my Extreme Fishing series, anyway!
Place to visit: I really enjoy going to Clandon Park, a stunning Palladian mansion open to the public and run by the National Trust, and I also love cycling the North Downs route down to Brighton.
“MY THIRST FOR TRULY WILD FISHING IS AS KEEN AS EVER.”
Those are the words of Robson Green, who this week was unveiled as the face of a new high-street tackle brand. The Geordie actor, whose Extreme Fishing programme will return in February, will lead Dunlop’s foray into the angling world in a venture that will see its products go on sale at the Sports Direct chain of stores.
Like most things he’s done, including antagonising some coarse anglers, Green is honest about how things have turned out.
A self-confessed “ugly caster”, the 47-year-old is openly surprised his fishing show - “the most natural thing I’ve ever done” - s soon to enter its seventh series.
We spoke to him about his busy schedule, his preference for eating his quarry and bringing fishing to the masses.
AT: WHAT ARE YOU UP TO, FISHING-WISE, AT THE MOMENT ?
RG: “I’ve just come back from finishing off series seven. I was out in the Middle East, in Dubai, then we went to Tanzania in search of enormous Nile perch, then Zanzibar, the birth place of Freddie Mercury, so we did a little bit on that. I was also on Rubondo Island, where we were charged by a bull elephant.”
AT: WHY HAVE YOU BECOME INVOLVED WITH DUNLOP ?
RG: “Like the Extreme Fishing series it was completely unexpected. Dunlop approached me and said will you be the face of our brand, because Extreme Fishing is so popular and reaches an extraordinary demographic, and obviously Dunlop are associated with excellence and quality. It’s an honour and a privilege. I’ve never said I’m an angling expert, my casting action is quite ugly, but the fish don’t seem to mind.
AT: YOU HAVE ALWAYS PREFERRED TO EAT WHAT YOU CATCH, HAVE YOU HAD MORE EXPERIENCE WITH COARSE FISHING RECENTLY OR DO YOU INTEND TO ?
RG: I do understand carp fishing, and I’ve eaten them in Thailand, but no, I find some methods of angling inactive and I like mine to be more active.
AT: HAVE YOU BEEN SURPRISED BY THE ENDURING POPULARITY OF EXTREME FISHING ?
RG: “I know when it first took off a lot of people thought ‘what’s this guy doing?’ but it’s just turned into an extraordinary adventure. It doesn’t celebrate the complexities of fishing, but focuses on who you are with, where you are and what you are after, and when you have all three you have angling alchemy. We show the fun side of fishing.”
AT: HOW MUCH MORE MILEAGE IS THERE IN THE FORMAT, ARE THERE STILL PLENTY OF ‘EXTREME’ LOCATIONS TO VISIT ?
RG: “Fish tend not to reside in ugly places. There are many locations that you and I will not have heard of, and many are absolute havens for many fish. At the moment there are over 200 countries on this planet and I’ve only visited a quarter of that.
“It’s the most natural thing I’ve ever done in my life. I’ve been an actor 28 years, faking sincerity, but I don’t have to fake anything when I’m fishing, it’s really from the heart.”
AT: DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE MEMORY FROM YOUR TIME FILMING THE SHOW ?
RG: “Cuba. Bonefishing on the fly. I thought salmon fishing was the most unreal fishing activity, but then I hooked a 6lb bonefish. It took off, stripping 150 yards of line of my reel, right to the backing, then snapped. The place and the people are also so colourful in all respects.”
AT: DO YOU SEE YOURSELF AS AN ANGLING AMBASSADOR AT ALL ?
RG: “Not at all. Other people do, but I don’t have an objective view of myself. With fishing I just live the experience, I genuinely enjoy it. I’m just someone who loves what they do.”
AT: DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE METHOD OF FISHING OR SPECIES OF FISH ?
RG: “Using a six-weight fly rod, catching a trout on the fly. Nothing beats it.”
AT: IS THERE ANYTHING THAT ANNOYS YOU ABOUT FISHING ITSELF OR THE POLITICS OF THE SPORT ?
RG: “I joined the Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall campaign (Hugh’s Fish Fight, which aimed to reduce wasteful fish discards). I just think don’t kill a fish you’re not going to eat.”