Daily Mail

Whitehouse wades in on the plight of rivers with loadsa catchphras­es

- CHRISTOPHE­R STEVENS Paul Whitehouse: Our Troubled Rivers HHHHI Arctic From Above HHHHI

Suits you, sir. i was very, very drunk. Jumpers for goalposts. Brilliant. A little bit werrr, a little bit weyyy. Pop-a-doodle-do, i do a lodda great work for charidee (but i don’t like to talk about it).

Paul Whitehouse has released more catchphras­es into the wild than any other comedian — so many that sometimes he can’t help but quote himself, even when he’s trying to be serious.

Linking the privatisat­ion of the water boards in the 1980s to current levels of pollution, on Our Troubled Rivers (BBC2), he blurted out, ‘Loadsamone­y!’ — a word he coined for a Harry Enfield character decades ago, on saturday Live.

And when he spotted a jazz guitar in the corner of a scientist’s office, he couldn’t resist purring, ‘Niiice!’ — one from his 1990s sketch extravagan­za the Fast show.

there are so many Whitehouse catchphras­es that i felt slightly cheated when they weren’t used. stepping over a fence at the edge of a car park, Paul protested that the unreasonab­le was being demanded of him: ‘With my knee?’

For a moment, i thought he was slipping back into character as the louche 13th Duke of Wybourne, unable to deny himself temptation­s of the flesh . . . ‘With my reputation?’

And when he’s not doing his own favourite lines, he’s borrowing

other people’s. Admiring the waters of the idyllic Wharfe near ilkley in Yorkshire, he became Nick Park’s Plasticine hero, Wallace: ‘Cracking bit of river, Gromit.’

A devoted angler, now a national treasure for his series Gone Fishing with Bob Mortimer, he was in earnest about the need to clean up our waterways. ‘it’s the closest thing to paradise that we have,’ he said. ‘that’s how i feel about our rivers.’

But he couldn’t help falling back on nervous gags, especially when he was confronted with statistics. ‘Very clever,’ he chuckled uncomforta­bly, as an academic overwhelme­d him with data.

And though Paul evidently admired the passion of activists who were organising direct action, their indignatio­n seemed to make him anxious. He wasn’t out of his depth, but he looked like he could have used a pair of rubber waders.

it was left to his friend and fellow campaigner, the former undertones singer Feargal sharkey, to get angry about the worsening crisis. ‘Every single river in the country is polluted,’ he yelled, putting the fear into Feargal and everyone else.

Wildlife presenter Liz Bonnin was coining her own catchphras­es as she bubbled with excitement on her adventures in Arctic From Above (Sky Nature).

‘Belugas! Belugas! Oh-hoho! Oh my god. they’re everywhere,’ she hooted, as she spied a pod of white whales from her helicopter. Zooming over a pack of polar bears, she gasped: ‘it’s my first time seeing them in the wild and it is as special as i thought it would be.’

And on another flight, it was all she could do to stay strapped in her seat as she shouted: ‘i see the wolf. i’m losing my mind. this is way too exciting for my heart.’ she didn’t even seem disappoint­ed when it turned out to be a large fox.

this celebratio­n of new filming techniques, with extraordin­ary images shot from drones, was fast-moving and packed with informatio­n. Pictures of bowhead whales from above made them look like carp in a pond.

Liz joined a team of naturalist­s studying the whales. they are not only the world’s fattest mammals but, at up to 200 years old, the longest lived (the whales, that is . . . not the naturalist­s).

strangely, the best method for attaching a GPs tracker to a whale is to use a lance, wielded from a little boat, like a harpoon. it looked like a scene from Moby Dick.

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