Mortimer and Whitehouse: Gone Fishing BBC2, 8.30pm ****

THEY are just two men in a boat, not three, and one of them stands more chance of catching a bus on Mars than a salmon, but for sheer unadulterated pleasure of a Friday evening you cannot do better than watch Mr Mortimer and Mr Whitehouse fishing.

Bob and Paul, of Vic and Bob and Fast Show fame respectively, are now into their second series. The first was a sleeper hit, largely because the idea behind it, though seemingly dull, was a diamond. Two blokes of a certain age, one who had had a triple by-pass (Mortimer, the newbie fisherman), the other three stents fitted, went for a couple of days to fish, shoot the breeze, and have a ponder. Think The Trip but without the Michael Caine impersonations (although this week Bob tried his hand at Dustin Hoffman. Or was it Al Pacino?) In last night’s episode they headed to the Tay to fulfil a boyhood dream of Bob’s to catch a salmon. They managed to resist lapsing into cod Scottish accents for a whole 11 minutes, but temptation proved too much in the end. “‘I can see your Trossachs’ is a famous Scots song,” said Bob. “It is now,” said Paul. The dialogue is more daft, meandering banter than zinger after zinger, but the vibe is easy-osey and oh so relaxing. Perfect Friday night TV, in short.

The pair have been growing more ambitious in the second run. In this instalment, the third of six, Bob went off to talk to fellow angler John. Last year, John told him, he caught the “salmon of a lifetime”. Two weeks later he was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus. “They can’t cure it, but coming up to Scotland fishing, I can’t describe how therapeutic it is. It’s a tonic.”

Mortimer spoke of his depression and how it was football that he turned to for solace. Anything that took your mind off things was just the ticket, they agreed.

Bob and Paul had a couple of nights self-catering at The White Tower of Taymouth Castle, and very nice it looked too. I expect it will be booked solid next year after this prime time advertisement, but worth a try. For breakfast, Bob made porridge with cholesterol attacking dates and pears - the food cooked is supposed to be heart healthy - plus chia seeds for Paul “because you’re a Londoner”.

After a round of golf, during which it was competent angler Paul’s turn to look like a plonker, they were back with Calum the ghillie on salmon watch. No river has beaten me et, said Bob, giving the Tay a hard stare. The Tay stared back. “Come on salmon,” cooed Paul.

One fish for every 10,000 casts, said Calum, sending an Exocet missile straight into their ballooning hopes. But then Bob had a bite. Paul leapt into action, ditto Calum (“Keep it away from the boat”). It was not to be, and in the middle of the melee, Bob fell over. The mood turned sombre. Silence reigned. Then all three burst into laughter. You had to laugh.

Come the end of the half hour mix of silliness and gentle rumination, Paul had made peace with their failed quest. “That’s salmon fishing, Bob. We came so close and yet so far.” He promised Bob they would try again one day, somewhere else (the fish counter at Asda, maybe?).

Bob said he would like that. “I’d love to get one before I pop me clogs.” “Yeah,” agreed Paul. And so say all of us.

Available on iPlayer