Andy Macgregor, a Scotsman in Iberia.

30-01-2016

A Scotsman In Iberia or to give the series on Canal Plus and Movie Star here in Spain its correct name, Un Escoses en Iberia, has become an instant hit with the programme’s Spanish viewers. The presenter, Andy Macgregor, has been commissioned to do another programme about his passion, carp fishing.

Andy, whose family originate from Glasgow, was brought up in Manchester, which is where he went on to study media and ran a record label before moving into the business side of corporate exhibitions, but there was always a string running through his ventures in the media and the audio visual world.

"While I ran the record label, I learned vital behind-the-camera skills, post-production, liner editing all that kind of stuff. Little did I know that later I would be working in front of camera," Andy told the Bulletin.

"I then went off backpacking round the world and arrived in Madrid for the first time some 11 years ago and was immediately entrapped by the people, the city, the vibe. I loved it and decided to stay for a while. I began teaching English, you know the usual, to staff at a publishing house, but the company eventually closed and I was left wondering what to do.

"I had my severance pay and wanted to stay in Madrid, or at least Spain. On the quiet, the hobby I am passionate about is carp fishing and, apart from there being very few general fishing magazines published inSpain, there was not one dedicated to this. So I decided to launch my own carp fishing magazine, I saw a niche market.

"The first edition of CARPdiem appeared in Spanish ten years ago is still going strong today. Not many people know this, apart from carp fishermen and women, but Spain is one of the best places in Europe to fish for them, especially along the River Ebro, so I really had found a new market with a unique product. Eventually I started filming short videos and posting them on Youtube. One received 800,000 views, went viral and it was not before long that I had an extensive library of me out fishing in unknown and tucked-away locations of Spain, many of which the Spanish had never heard of let alone visitors.

"Then one night I happened to be in a bar in Madrid and bumped into a couple of guys who worked for Canal Plus. We got talking about my magazine and then I showed them some of my videos on my phone and they loved it. They said they would have a chat with some people at the station and get back to me. Before I knew it I was asked to come up with a proposal, a pitch.

"I had a couple of friends who worked in the TV industry in the UK so I popped back to London and ran the ideas by them. They said don’t just write one proposal, present two, which I did. But Canal Plus went for the first. I guess it was a bit cheeky.

"I had been living in Spain for the best part of ten years at the time, but we pitched it around a Scotsman who had just arrived in the country, knew little about Spain and decided to start exploring the fishing, gastronomy and culture of the most hidden parts of the country and they went for it in July of last year . The series began being broadcast last month and we have a few more episodes of this first series to shoot.

"So far, we’ve been to Madrid, Extremadura, the Basque Country, Andalusia and Castile-La Mancha. The latter was great because out of the desert of windmills and thrown-up towns and villages made famous by Don Quixote, we came to the town of Villanueva de los Infantes. It's not only a beautiful place but it’s also where Don Quixote is supposed to have been set, or at least set out on his adventures from. The locals have this lovely, ancient old lemon salad which is not only delicious but is supposed to be a great cure for hangovers.

"In Madrid, we started out at the famous restaurant El Botin, the oldest restaurant in the world, and I had a chat with chef Catalina Brennen. It’s all good homemade Spanish food like grandmothers and great grandmothers used to make and is a restaurant which has to be sampled.

"But once out exploring, we came across some amazing hidden games. Like I said, the Ebro is a great carp fishing river, and the town of Mequinenza in Aragon, a Mecca for carp fans, is like a Blackpool for fishermen on the weekends. So we stayed away and looked for the source of the carp and stumbled across places and people many Spaniards don’t know about. Another great find was Valladolid. A wonderful city and the food is absolutely excellent . It’s cheap as chips but sadly most people just zoom through on their way up to Santander and the north of Spain.

"I guess it’s a guide to alternative Spain, alternative tourism, looking at the local culture, gastronomy, history, places of interest and, of course, the fishing."

Andy has also been commissioned to present another series called Fresh Fish, which will be purely about fish.

For more information visit www.carpdiem.es.

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