Press Centre

Trawlermen Tales

  • Episode: 

    2 of 3

  • Transmission (TX): 

    Tue 12 Jan 2016
  • TX Confirmed: 

  • Time: 

    8.00pm - 9.00pm
  • Week: 

    Week 02 2016 : Sat 09 Jan - Fri 15 Jan
  • Channel: 

The information contained herein is embargoed from press use, commercial and non-commercial reproduction and sharing into the public domain until Tuesday 5 January
“You’re not right in the head if you go to sea. And the sooner you realise that, the sooner you’ll be a fisherman.” - Scott, first mate of the Filadelfia trawler
This new three-part documentary series for ITV focuses on the lives of Cornish trawlermen - who battle bad weather, sharks and the very real danger of death to provide for their own families.
Made by Wild Pictures, the producers of the acclaimed ITV series HMP Aylesbury, Strangeways and The Zoo, this programme depicts how the fishermen of Newlyn in Cornwall toil around the clock with little sleep, often in rough seas, hunting for their catch.
It also provides a vivid insight into how they struggle to meet the expectations of their wives, girlfriends and children at home while they are away for a week at a time.
In the second episode, the trawler Filadelfia’s first mate Scott faces a race against time to get back from sea to be at the birth of his baby. Pregnant partner Rosie says he needs to go to sea to earn enough money to support their fledgling family.
She says: “If he doesn’t go to sea, there’s no money. There are bills, rent, everything. If he doesn’t go then we’ll be homeless basically – we won’t have any food or anything like that.”
Fishermen work all day and night on the Filadelfia, even when facing a force eight Atlantic gale, and Scott’s struggling with a bad back. He says: “Doctor reckons I’ve got a few prolapsed discs in my back. I went to see a specialist about it the other month - he said I’ve got the back of a 40 year old, so for someone who’s 24 it’s not sounding too promising. They try to get me to stop fishing, like, but it’s all I really know. And you ain’t gonna find a job that pays well like this in Penzance.”
But he says in all likelihood that being at sea means he will miss the birth of his first-born. He says: “I am petrified that I am going to be at sea.  Where we’re fishing at the minute is seven hours before we get home. And hopefully Rosie can keep her legs crossed for 7 hours and keep it in there. But it’s not looking promising.”
Somehow, Scott makes it home from sea just in time to drive Rosie to the hospital. As he stays with Rosie through her labour, he’s so giddy with emotion he’s not quite sure what to do. He says: “I’m just grateful she’s giving me the best gift in life, really. I just feel a bit out of place ‘cos I’m not sure what I should be doing. Feel nasty sitting down and then I stand up and then I think well – I may as well sit down ‘cos I’m not doing much standing up.” 
All is well, and when his new son weighs in at a healthy 4kg, Scott says: “That’s the size of eight cuttlefish!” 
Skipper Jimmy’s trawler the William Sampson doesn’t even leave port before it breaks down, which means it’s a waiting game that costs his whole crew. The men only earn money when they fish, not while they’re stuck in harbour. Deckhand Lee says: “I thought we were going to be going away today and be back again in time for my wife’s birthday. But there we go. That’s fishing for you.”
With his boat being repaired, Jimmy can also spend time with his family. His daughters Luana and Melissa have brought baby Kenza for some time with grandpa. He says:  “I’ve lost so much with my kids because of fishing. You miss the first steps. You miss the first cries. The first walk. You know what I mean? The first words they come out with.  Cos you’re away for a week – there’s a lot can change in a week.”
While ashore, his rock is partner of three years Jo. At 54 years old Jimmy says he has finally found the woman he wants to settle down with. He says: “I’m away a lot and it takes a strong woman to keep in a relationship like that. And when you come home from sea you’re like meeting up as strangers again. You know what I mean? You’ve got to get to know that person again.“
Jo says: “First time I’ve been out with a fisherman. Yeah, there are times when you can’t really plan much socially but I think it adds excitement to the relationship actually, because when he’s away for a few days I’m thinking, ‘Oh – he’s gonna be back tomorrow!’ And that’s after three years. So hopefully it’s the same for him.”
When the boat finally gets out to sea, Jimmy finds himself adrift with his crew as the boat breaks down again. After a barren spell fishing they risk going home empty-handed with a broken boat, until engineer Shareef steps in to save the day.
Jimmy says: “He said give him an hour and he reckon he’ll fix it. He can fix anything ‘cos he was on the Russian boats for 160 days. They do four or five days steaming. They never have time to go back anywhere. So he’s used to fixing things with nothing.“
Despite the larger-scale commercial fishing industry in Newlyn, some small independent fishermen still base themselves in the harbour. Barry is setting out in his own boat the Boy Brax on the hunt for mackerel. His hand line fishing methods seem archaic compared to the bigger operations. and he says: “This is a very old fashioned way of fishing now – hand lining, 25 hooks – they’re all like needles.  One’s gone in my hand now. Bloody things!”
But even when there are no fish, like today, he explains that he still loves the thrill of the chase. He says: “The sea’s lovely. I’m in my element out here. I just love catching fish, you know. Well that’s what it’s all about – but I still love catching them.”