If you thought fishing was relaxing, just wait till you meet the Trawlermen – risking life and limb to bring us the grub we take for granted.
Vicious weather, deadly machinery and a whole lot of fish. Welcome to the world of the Trawlermen – the brave, unsung heroes of the North Sea, whose perilous lives are reeled in by this daring documentary series which is the closest most of us will ever come to experiencing the thrill and ferocity of their working environment.
Watch just one episode of Trawlermen and you'll never whinge about your job or having to do household chores again. This storm-tossed docusoap follows several crews of hardy Scottish men as they set out from the safety of Aberdeenshire to bring in the elusive, slippery treasures of the deep. And it's certainly a far cry from a Sunday afternoon's fishing, we can tell you.
Narrated by Peter Capaldi (who shot to fame as the foul-mouthed spin doctor Malcom Tucker in cult sitcom The Thick of It), the series plunges us in at the deep end, contrasting the fortunes of different trawlers and their very different workers. Trawlers like the Amity II, skippered by Jimmy Buchan. He's been working the waves for over 20 years, so nothing much fazes him - but even Jimmy has a tough time of it, particularly when his trawler sails out to the ominously-named Devil's Hole. Sounds like something out of Pirates of the Caribbean, but with the added bonus of being very real and very deadly.
Then there's the pleasantly-named Fruitful Bough, a trawler manned by three young brothers eager to prove their worth. And they've got a lot to live up to, as fishing has been in their family for over 100 years. They want the Fruitful Bough to live up to its name, but getting big hauls will mean staying up for 24 hours at a time and coping with the wild, unforgiving North Sea. Frankly, we struggle to stay awake during an average day in the office, so Neptune only knows how these seafarers do it.
While big waves, sudden winds and thick fog can all cause our heroes a heap of trouble, it's not just Mother Nature the Trawlermen need to be wary of - they're surrounded by vicious, screeching, erratic machinery that will chew up their limbs if they're not careful. And there's no respite even when they get the fish in, because the guys also need to spend hours filleting the wet, hard-to-handle blighters. The Trawlermen are sailors, butchers, mechanics and cunning businessmen all rolled into one - talk about a tough task.
The series also lets us in on their family lives, showing how their wives and children deal with the fact that their husbands and fathers are married to the sea. We also get an insight into the fierce rivalry between the crews, and how they must brave increasingly dangerous conditions to keep their business going in the face of suffocating government fishing quotas. It may strike us as a thankless job, but it's clear that these boys have a true passion for what they do – getting out there and showing the sea who's boss is what they do, and they do it no matter the odds.
It's awe-inspiring stuff, and we guarantee you'll never take a prawn sandwich for granted again. The only question is - how long till some bright spark comes up with Celebrity Trawlermen, complete with a panel of seafaring judges? We bet Tony Blackburn would be well up for it, although personally we'd love to see how Jedward would cope. Oh, that would be sweet...