Have You Been Watching…The Fisherman’s Apprentice with Monty Halls?

"You're a lightweight. You're fired"

Monty Halls is a marine biologist. This means he studies conservation and stuff. It’s complicated. It’s also not really important, as he’s jacking it all in for eight months to become a fisherman, to ‘learn the way of the sea’.

Every day starts with Monty peering into a hand-held camera and telling us how early in the morning it is. Ok, you get up really early every day. We get it. We’ve seen The Apprentice.

Nigel Leg, one of five skippers in Cornwall’s Cadgwith cove, has agreed to mentor Monty. Nigel is endlessly tolerant, like a kindly driving instructor in wellies. But to succeed, Monty’s going to need to earn the respect of the other skippers.

It isn’t easy. Jonathan ‘Tonks’ Tonkin in particular is highly sceptical. He compares Monty to an I’m A Celebrity contestant and, as the apprentice sets off on his first solo run on a boat, gives a slightly sinister talking head about how “out there, everything looks the same…”

Yeah, like water, presumably.

Probably sensing the fact that he’s slightly hated by his colleagues, Monty himself seems a little self-destructive throughout: “How would it go down if I ruined this tractor? Hahaha!” And “How quick will the water kill you?!” to which Nigel responds, “Let’s throw you over and find out”. All under the guise of a health  and safety induction, you understand.

The apprentice mucks up early on while out at sea with Nigel, forgetting to throw the fourth lobster pot over the side (a dangerous oversight, which could’ve easily resulted in him being dragged overboard) because, by his own admission, he was daydreaming.

It’s not even as if he was sitting at a computer and got distracted by a joke email, or Twitter. He was literally staring into space.

“Imagine if I was doing this to feed my family. If I had bills to pay.” he says afterwards. That’s the thing, Monty. These fishermen do have families to feed and bills to pay. And you’re disrupting their lives to film a TV show where you can’t even be arsed to concentrate on the job in hand!

He could really do with a Lord Sugar dressing down. Or, at the very least, a Nick Hewer eye roll.

Skipper Danny is unique to the cove, as he fishes with nets rather than pots. This week he’s reluctantly agreed to take Monty out netting for monkfish, but unfortunately the bigger boat and the choppy waters leave our apprentice feeling queasy:

“Imagine doing a Rubik’s cube on a bouncy castle when you don’t feel well. That’s what this is like.”

Yes, just like that. Plus the bit about having families to feed and bills to pay. Remember? The clue is in those guys behind you, slogging their guts out while you dream up toy analogies and turn an alarming shade of green.

A few minutes later, Monty is throwing up into the sea. Danny is suitably sympathetic: “Try not to spew over the fish.” But his condition deteriorates further, to the point where he’s unconscious, and CHOKING ON HIS OWN VOMIT! Danny reluctantly tears himself away from his work in order to drag the half dead apprentice to his feet, but does it with the caveat that “right now I’m more concerned about the monkfish dying than I am Monty.”

Thankfully everyone makes it back to the cove alive and- more importantly- with a decent haul of monkfish. After his ordeal, the other fishermen are marginally nicer to him while he chugs back seasickness tablets and duly makes a bit of cash. But it’s fair to say Cadgwith are going to be a happier bunch without him when Monty continues his apprenticeship in the continent next week.

From the trailer this mainly looks like he’ll be sitting around eating a load of seafood. Let’s hope his dodgy tummy is up to it.

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The Fisherman’s Apprentice is on Wednesdays at 8pm on BBC1. You can catch up on iPlayer here

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7 Responses to Have You Been Watching…The Fisherman’s Apprentice with Monty Halls?

  1. Kevin says:

    Brilliant series, Monty halls is the Bob Geldof of the fishing quota.

  2. Les says:

    very entertaining and highlighted conservation issues and the waste of dead fish. I think Monty was brave to represent the fisherman.

  3. John Potter says:

    Monty is one of the best presenters on UK television.
    One gets the feeling that what you see is what you get. I feel I have almost got to know Monty and when his lady friend left him for warmer climes in an earlier series I felt for him. Well Monty, you can’t keep a good man down. Isla is lovely.
    I thought your views of fishing were fair and honest. I have only eaten really fresh fish once and I can understand your enthusiasm for the ‘boat to table’ idea. The sad thing is I live so far from the sea.
    I look forward to the next series.

  4. Nigel Smith says:

    Really brilliant series. That last episode was very inspiring. If I had a local fish co-op I would definitely sign up. I think we need to get eating our local fish and especially the less commercially viable catch that just gets thrown back.

  5. John Smith says:

    loved this series….brilliant TV…..Cornwall, the sea and a new born….follow up this program please bbc wales

  6. Simon Hockenhull says:

    Hi A brilliant series really enjoyed it. A follow up is a must.

    • Simon Hockenhull says:

      (Sorry the pc crashed out). I lived just up the road from Cadwith and probably went to school with some of these guys which made this series even more fascinating.. Just a point which may help in encouraging people to eat more fish. For the last 10 or so years I have been on a restrictive diet one of the few things I can eat is poultry and fish, I am advised that fish is very good for us all, especially if it is not fried, and very beneficial for people with cholestral problems as it is naturally very low in harmful fats but rich in the good type of fats plus loads of Omega and other vitamins.. Perhaps if more people were made aware of this it could be of great help to our fishing industry especially the smaller fishing fleets such as Cadgwith.

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