Fly Fishing, by ……who?

Who remembers any BT Yellow Pages adverts on TV? The chances are, most people will remember the advert that featured a book, called “Fly Fishing”, by “J R Hartley”. It became so popular that they had to create a book of that name, and then sold a lot of copies! Probably I can find one to scan and show here.

More significant was that the actor who played the part of J R Hartley, Norman Lumsden, did not know very much about fly fishing. In fact, I don’t think he had ever been fly fishing. So one year, when my son (also called Nick Denbow) was working as a fishing guide and ghillie at the Rod Box in Kingsworthy, the Channel 4 TV people asked if the Rod Box could take Norman out onto a trout river to help them film him, with a fly fishing rod. We think the show was “Out and About” with Toyah Wilcox. Actually Nick took Norman and the crew out onto the Itchen Navigation near Twyford, and Nick had to teach him what to do with the rod and line, standing in the river, presumably in waders, for the first time in his life.

Nick Denbow and JR Hartley, in about 1990

Nick Denbow and JR Hartley, in about 1990

Norman was about 76 by this time, and he did very well, only needing to be held upright a few times. Whether the C4 pictures made him look as though he knew what he was doing, I am not qualified to say. Son Nick has the picture to prove he was there, and a copy of ‘Fly Fishing, by J R Hartley’, suitably autographed.

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