We've known for some time that Britain's rivers are not in a good way. How and why our waterways have got into quite such a mess is the focus of a new, two-part documentary series for BBC Two, presented by actor and angler Paul Whitehouse.

What is the television series, Paul Whitehouse: Our Troubled Rivers, about?

In this new series, Paul travels around England and Wales looking at the pressures affecting our rivers and waterways from water companies, intensive agriculture and a growing population. Paul explores what is going on beneath the surface, why our rivers and waterways are in decline and what needs to be done to safeguard them.


In the first episode, Paul travels through the north of England looking at the impact water companies have on our rivers. He explores the changes since privatisation in 1989 and what regulations are in place when it comes to sewage discharge.

He meets locals in Yorkshire fighting for the health of the River Wharfe, a conservationist who warns of the ecological decline in iconic Lake Windemere, and the ex-pop star fronting the battle for our waterways: Feargal Sharkey.

In the second episode, Paul travels to Wales and the south of England. Visiting the River Wye, he sees how explosions of algae, caused by fertiliser runoff from farming, are part of a cocktail overwhelming the habitat. In Hampshire, he hears about the threats to chalk streams, before discovering how regular sewage discharges on the coast are affecting Whitstable’s oyster industry.

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Ending his journey in London, Paul find a beacon of hope: the £4.4 billion Thames Tideway super sewer.

How many episodes of Our Troubled Rivers are there?

There are two episodes

When is Paul Whitehouse: Our Troubled Rivers on television?

Our Troubled Rivers airs on Sunday 5th March at 8pm and Sunday 12 March, 8pm.


Main image © BBC/Samuel Palmer


Sarah McPhersonFeatures editor, BBC Wildlife Magazine