In the long list of bizarre business ideas, introducing salmon fishing to the Yemeni Highlands sounds pretty far- fetched. But during a business meeting in the Middle East writer Paul Torday dreamt up this scenario for his comic novel, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. Now the book has been turned into a movie, starring Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt, which hits cinema screens this month.
Torday had been travelling to the region frequently and was helping to set up a charity to improve the health of a local river. The experience, combined with his love of fishing, gave him the idea for the book, which was first published in 2007 – and soon became a best-seller.
Fast-forward a few years and Kudos Pictures has teamed up with BBC Films, Lionsgate UK and the UK Film Council to produce the film adaptation, which also stars Kristin Scott Thomas. The story follows government fisheries scientist Dr Alfred Jones (McGregor), who is approached by Harriet Chetwode-Talbot (Blunt), the management consultant representing a fly fishing-obsessed sheikh who wishes to introduce salmon to the wadis of the Yemen.
The task seems impossible to Jones but with the British government desperate for a good-news story in the Middle East, the prime minister's spokesperson, Patricia Maxwell (Scott Thomas), seizes on the idea and makes Jones responsible for its success. He reluctantly accepts the challenge only to find himself on a road to self-discovery in this funny, touching and thought-provoking film.