SURPRISE TV hit of the week is a series about offshore fishermen based in the north east of Scotland.
BBC1’s Trawlermen netted five million viewers on its first trip out to the stormy North Sea on Monday night.
That’s just two million fewer than the number watching top soap Emmerdale at the same time – and a massive three million more than ITV1’s multi-million pound flop Love Island.
It’s a fascinating “eat, sleep, fish” series about a hidden – and dangerous – world, featuring the crews of several boats playing for high stakes.
Jimmy Buchan (above) is skipper of prawn boat Amity, friendly rival to trawler Fruitful Bough, captained by James West, one of the most successful prawn boats in Peterhead. Its crew includes two of James’s brothers.
Screened at 7pm every night this week, the cast also includes whitefish trawler Ocean Venture, skippered by John Buchan. In last night’s episode, he was facing a poor haul, an empty hold and torn nets.
Tonight’s edition sees Ocean Venture fishing at The Edge, only 150 miles south of the Arctic Circle. Having failed to catch enough fish, John is taking a huge risk in the deep and treacherous waters of the North Atlantic.
Amity (below) is back to the business of catching prawns. Jimmy and his crew have been at sea for almost a week, with little to show for their efforts except for some ripped nets. They are about to face a serious setback.
One TV critic has already wondered if any of the prawns caught on screen were bound for sandwiches at Old Trafford. It’s not so easy to make jokes when you’re facing a Force 10 gale, but the crews have to grin and get on with it.
Offshore fishing is one of the most dangerous jobs in Britain. Last year, 34 UK boats and nine crew members were lost at sea.
If you haven’t seen Trawlermen yet, take a look. It’ll certainly put a bad day at the office into perspective.