As It Happens·Q&A

British man 'shocked and appalled' by fly fishing technique in The Crown

As a video producer, Dominic Witherow appreciates the acting and cinematography in the Netflix series. He says the high quality of production is what made the depiction of fly fishing all the more hard for him to believe.

Dominic Witherow is not the only one who winced at the scene of Prince Charles fly fishing

Josh O’Connor acts as Prince Charles in The Crown, Season 4. (Netflix)

When Dominic Witherow sat down to watch the new season of The Crown, he winced at the scene of Prince Charles fly fishing alone in Iceland.

"The fishing was so poorly executed," Witherow told As It Happens host Carol Off.

As a video producer, Witherow described his appreciation for the acting and cinematography in the Netflix series. The high quality of production, he says, is what made the depiction of fly fishing all the more hard for him to believe.

"There is no question as to the fact that it's a terrible display of fishing from a man who in reality is extremely accomplished in that sort of thing."


Partially as a joke, the Chobham resident decided to write a letter to the Daily Telegraph about the inaccuracy of the show and its depiction of the crown prince.

The newspaper published his letter last week and it quickly went viral. 

Here is his conversation with Carol Off about that letter. 

Dominic, how would you describe Prince Charles and his technique for fly fishing in The Crown?

I imagine the real Prince Charles is something of an expert fisherman. The fishing displayed in the TV show was just atrocious.

What really struck out was the way the line was cast. It absolutely crashed into the water with absolutely no technique at all. It would have scared off any fish for miles around. It was so amateurly done that I felt, really, they should have got that a bit better. It was just awful. Any fisherman would have winced to see it.

Why did they go to all that detail and still be so ham-fisted in their cast?

I honestly don't know. 

I think that things like looking at equipment and making sure you've got the right bit of kit, that's all pretty easy to do. All you have to do is go to a decent fishing shop and say, 'What do I need to look like I'm a good fisherman?'

The actual skill of casting a line is something that you learn over years, in some cases, and it is a real art. It's not something that you can fake. But I think that the filmmakers simply didn't care that this was something they had to get right. They didn't consider that there were millions upon millions of avid fishermen who might be watching their show.

Prince Charles, the actor, does land a large fish with this. What does that say to you?

Well, I think they really wanted to show him dispatching it. And so, they have him absolutely bludgeoning it to bits. I mean, goodness knows what was left of it at the end. I think it was to show an emotional turmoil. Also, the story is building to a particularly brutal and cataclysmic event. It's all part of a foreshadowing of that. But it wasn't convincing, not remotely convincing.

But it's a very good point. I mean, that it was a metaphor, right? This brutal killing of the fish. The rest of the royal family is out hunting...So all of this is going on. Isn't it more symbolic than instructive?

It is, absolutely. But that's a show that has millions upon millions of pounds and dollars thrown at it. It's exquisite to watch. The acting is superb. The cinematography is magnificent. And then they don't pay any attention to really, important details [that are] important to certain people.

There is no question as to the fact that it's a terrible display of fishing from a man who in reality is extremely accomplished in that sort of thing because he's been doing it his whole life. One of the few things in the show that can be right or wrong, and they get it wrong. It's lazy.

So you decided you needed to put pen to paper and send a letter to The Daily Telegraph. What was your intent with that?

Well, to be honest, it's primarily a joke.

There is a bit of a tradition with The Daily Telegraph, which is very much the establishment newspaper. The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, used to work there, and there are frequently quite pompous letters, people getting upset about things that really seem fairly insignificant. 

I wanted to write a joke letter. I thought, 'Oh, this will be funny,' or come across like some old curmudgeonly colonel sitting in the tweed and getting thoroughly frustrated at these people who don't know what they're doing. And I thought that the very opening sentence, in which I said my wife and I were watching it specifically so that we could pick it up on its inaccuracy, a total prejudgment of the thing. I thought a detail that is insignificant, but as I've explained could be important, would be the appropriate thing to pick up on.

There were plenty of other things that I spotted, but this was so blatant, so I penned this absolutely outraged letter and sent it off without really thinking it would get through to the letters editor at all. I must say, I was very surprised the next morning when a friend contacted me and said, 'Oh, I've seen your letter in the newspaper.' And then, of course, a couple of hours later, it absolutely exploded all over the place. Now I'm talking to people all over the world about it. It is extraordinary.

Written by Mehek Mazhar. Interview produced by Kate Cornick. Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.