Viewers were left divided after Lee Mack stood in for the co-star of BBC Two’s Mortimer and Whitehouse: Gone Fishing on last night's episode.
Bob Mortimer had to sit out on yesterday’s episode (October 1) as he was sick with shingles during the filming of the episode. Shingles is a condition which is triggered by the same virus that causes chickenpox.
The show, which has been running since 2018, follows comedians and lifelong friends Bob and Paul Whitehouse as they embark on a fishing trip across the UK, bonded over a love of the sport and their shared experiences of major heart health problems and surgery.
But for Sunday’s episode, Blackburn-raised comedian Lee Mack took Bob’s place as they embarked on a trip to Burgh Island, where they went on the hunt for wrasse and attempted a few different fishing options.
With @realbobmortimer under the weather, #PaulWhitehouse and Ted head to the idyllic Burgh Island one member down - but a special guest awaits them on the shores 🎣
Brand new @MWgonefishing is on tonight at 9pm on BBC Two and @bbciplayer pic.twitter.com/rNQGkQlmDa
— Plank PR (@PlankPR) October 1, 2023
Many people shared their support, wishing Bob a speedy recovery but the episode also caught quite a few bites, with Lee trending on X (formerly known as Twitter) as viewers shared their passionate opinions over the comedian’s stance.
At the beginning of the episode, Mack confessed: “I don’t fish. And when I say ‘I don’t fish’, I don’t mean, ‘I can’t fish – teach me, grasshopper.’ I mean, I won’t fish; I’m a vegan.”
Lee joked Bob had encouraged him to go on the trip despite his stance "as it would really annoy Paul", and instead of angling for fish, Lee did magnet fishing, using a magnet to trawl the sea floor for pieces of metal.
Lee said: "I genuinely Googled 'how can you do vegan fishing' and this came up, so I thought I'd bring this and show Paul."
He joked that rather than fish he was hoping to catch "cutlery and wedding rings".
However, some viewers were left less than impressed by the show.
One X user wrote: “Think that’ll go down as the worst episode of Gone Fishing, what’s the point having Lee Mack come on to ram him being a vegan down ya throat and not fish, pointless episode.”
A second person added: “I’ve nothing against Lee Mack but he wasn’t right for Gone Fishing, why have someone that doesn’t fish?
"I really hope that Bob recovered in time for the last episode.”
Another disappointed viewer posted: “Not really sure what the Gone Fishing producers were thinking when they made the episode.
"If Bob wasn't well then don't record it and wait until he is well again probably would have been a smart thought."
One woman wrote: “Turned off Gone Fishing. Lee Mack shouldn't have gone on if he is vegan and refuses to fish.
"He's just being annoying with his magnet 'fishing'. Would have rather they missed an episode to be honest than replace Bob. Get well soon Bob. We'll wait for you.”
Some viewers disagreed with the criticism, with one person tweeting: “Grown adults crying about Lee Mack ‘ruining’ their Sunday night because he stood in for an unwell mate on a fishing programme. Grow up lads.”
Another said: “Apparently, Lee Mack is vegan, had the temerity to stand in for a mate on a TV fishing show, and now some people on social media hate him.
"Such pathetically, empty, soulless husks.”
A third said: "I'm a vegan. I love Lee Mack. If he wants to go on a fishing show and talk about being a vegan LET HIM. Y'know. Free speech and all that."
Mortimer will return to the series for its next episode.