Angling hero John Wilson has died.
The star of television’s Go Fishing, who inspired thousands of viewers to pick up a rod, suffered a stroke at his home in Thailand. He was 75.
John moved from Norfolk to a lakeside home in Chumphon in southern Thailand in 2013, but revealed this summer that he and wife Jo were planning on a return to the UK.
The couple had two children and six grandchildren.
Speaking of his decision to sell their Thai home, John said in July: “We chose Thailand because my brother David had lived there for 12 years. We created what was to be our forever home there, but we miss the family terribly.
“There are no English-speaking people for miles from where we live now, and we just felt it was time to go back.”
John, a former hairdresser born in Enfield, began his TV career in the 1980s and brought fishing to the masses with his popular Go Fishing series and many books.
Until his move to Thailand he lived in Great Witchingham in Norfolk, with a lake in his garden and his beloved River Wensum on his doorstep.
Fellow TV star Matt Hayes said in a tweet: “So sad to hear about the passing of John Wilson. I met John and worked with him at angling shows over many years and came to like and respect him.
“He is undoubtedly one of angling's greats and his influence will live on. Rest in peace, John, and thanks for the memories.”
Writing on Instagram, Ali Hamidi said: “I can’t actually believe it. I could literally write an essay for what this man has done for angling.
“It sounds a bit cheesy, but very often when I’m away filming, counting my lucky stars at doing something I love for a company I love I often think back or quote John Wilson off camera with Macey, Tom Dove and Neil Spooner.
“‘Would you believe it’...he had so many wonderful terms and phrases, so many incredible TV moments shared with millions.
“He really is a true legend of the sport, even people who have never picked up a rod know John. Truly, champ, rest in peace. You not only inspired one generation, you left a lifelong mark on angling for an eternity. Thank you for everything you did for fishing.”
The Environment Agency’s Anglia region tweeted: “Has anyone done more to inspire so many others to get into fishing? John Wilson was well known and well loved across our region and around the world. Very sad news.”
BBC One Show reporter Joe Crowley said: “So sorry to hear this. Growing up in Norfolk, John Wilson was a childhood hero and inspired my love of fishing through his TV series. Anyone could watch and enjoy Go Fishing because he had such a lovely, warm chuckle - you’ve never seen a man laugh more - it was infectious. A sad day.”