Peterhead to feature on new BBC show

David and John Clarke will feature in the new BBC show, Fish Town
David and John Clarke will feature in the new BBC show, Fish Town

A new six-part television series will air on BBC One Scotland featuring Peterhead and the extraordinary people working on land and at sea to put the fish on our plates.

Scottish actor James Cosmo will narrate the new show, Fish Town, to be screened on Monday, January 14 at 7.30pm.

In the first episode the fishing boat Reliance, skippered by John Clarke, heads to a fishing ground off the Shetland Isles in search of whitefish and prawns.

Joining John on board is his son, David, who hopes one day to take over as skipper. But before he does, John needs to decide if he thinks his son’s yet up to the job.

David – the youngest person on the boat – is responsible for keeping watch, cooking and looking after the crew on one of the most dangerous parts of the boat, the trawl deck. When a big haul comes aboard, he also has his work cut out cleaning and packing the fish.

Speaking to the Buchanie ahead of the screening, skipper John Clarke said: “It is really exciting to be part of something like this, I hope that it will show youngsters that it is possible to get on in the fishing industry even if you don’t come from a fishing background.”

The show was filmed last summer and had camera crews take to the sea with the local skippers.

John added: “This is the first time that I have been involved with something on television, it was quite an experience.

“A BBC producer asked if we would take a camera crew out to film what we do from catching fish, looking after the boats, the different areas we fish in and the new Peterhead Fish Market.

“The crew enjoyed coming out with us. The camera guys had never been out on a boat before so I think they valued the price of fish afterwards.”

Commenting on his son David’s appearance, John said: “He has been on the boat since he was 15-years-old but he hasn’t taken the boat yet.

“I started at the bottom and worked my way up so I told him that he would have to do the same.

“He was a bit shy around the cameras to start with but once we got out to sea we just got on with the job. There was no playing up for the cameras, they just filmed what we were doing.”

Despite starring in the show, John admitted he didn’t get to view any previews as he said: “I haven’t seen the show yet but I’m looking forward to it.

“I posted something on my social media account and it was shared around 250 times so a lot of people are interested in it.

“This is a job that a lot of people don’t know much about so it will let them see exactly what we do.

“With Fish Town nothing is scripted, there were no second takes and we had no control over what happened.”

The first episode features another Peterhead boat, the Ocean Endeavour, as it heads out to one of the UK’s most remote fishing grounds, Rockall, in search of haddock.

Skipper John Buchan is trying out a rookie fisherman, 18-year-old Nathan Foreman. This is Nathan’s first trip on a deep sea trawler and John hopes to train him up as a fully-fledged deckhand. But Nathan’s first trip is going to be uncomfortable – Storm Hector is blowing in, bringing with it gale force winds.

Back on shore, 24-year-old fish buyer Jason Jack is at Peterhead fish market competing with ten other buyers for the morning’s finest fish. Jason regularly spends up to £50,000 in the market before most of us have even eaten our breakfast.

The second episode will air the following Monday (January 21) at 7.30pm.

In this episode, the trawler Reliance is halfway through a fishing trip off the Shetland Isles when skipper John Clarke spots a broken rope that could lead to the boat losing its net. The crew fix the problem and put out the nets again, but they are hit by a rogue wave which rips a two-tonne metal bar off the top of the boat.

While John and the crew are clearing up from the accident, the boat’s main hydraulic pipe breaks, leaving the boat unable to pull in its fishing gear. If it can’t be fixed, they’ll have to cut the net free. John and the crew manage to fix the pipe and recover the net, and the boat has to sail back to Peterhead for emergency repairs.

In the remote Norwegian sector of the North Sea, the trawler Rosebloom and its sister ship the Boy John are looking for hake. Fishing is good while the weather is fine, but the arrival of heavy fog leaves the boats empty handed.

Back on land, fish buyer Jason Jack is on the floor of his family’s factory, trying to make sure that the fish he’s bought get processed and packed up in time to be loaded onto lorries that will take it to customers across the UK and Europe.