Thank you, Mark Morris, fish merchant, on The Fish Market: Inside Billingsgate (BBC2). Thank you for standing up and telling it like it is, saying what no one else has the cojones to say: that pollock's bollocks.
He says it better. A few years ago no one wanted pollock. You couldn't give it away. Then Gordon Ramsay and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall told us we had to eat pollock instead of cod, because it was more sustainable. And because these men were on the television we did what we were told. Now, as well as making more money than cod does, it's going short. Which is daft, says Mark.
"That's a pollock," he says, holding one up. "Lovely piece of fish, lovely bright colours, that sort of thing. Tastes like shit. Then you get cod [holds up a cod]. That's a fish that's been swimming in the North Atlantic, feeding on the right products, since the day it was born. If that's a human being, that goes to the gym every day, yeah? It eats all the right foods. It probably drives a Porsche, right? [Goes back to the pollock] This – pollock – is sitting at home on the settee, in a tracksuit, watching Jeremy Kyle, eating a burger."
I'm not sure I'd totally trust Mark on the environmental stuff. But he's dead right about pollock being flabby and rubbish and tasting like shit.
Mark's not even the main star of this excellent fly-on-a-piece-of-fish documentary about an old London institution struggling to keep up in a changing world. That's Roger Barton, also an old London institution – and an old rogue, albeit a lovable one – struggling to keep up in a changing world. It's not just the dwindling fish stocks, the general economic gloom, and the fact that supermarkets bypass Billingsgate altogether and go straight to source; it's that people now want their fish to be fresh (most of the flies seem to be on Roger's fish). "All this date nonsense has come in the last 10 years," he moans. "As far as I know, no one's died of fish poisoning."
Roger wears a straw boater and a bluetooth earpiece, even when he's on the landline. That seems about right – he's making an effort to keep up, to move with the times, but he doesn't quite get it. It's not only Roger's relevance that's questionable, but Billingsgate's itself. Now his out-of-date fish is being investigated by the inspectors. "The world's changing, maybe I'm too old", he says. We leave him, walking sadly across the market floor, to the Chorus of Hebrew Slaves from Nabucco. Because this is a posh doc, with a soundtrack of Italian opera. Which actually goes very well with the fish, like a crisp pinot grigio.
One little thing. That box of razor clams, the only one in the market, which Roger wants to keep a secret, but then it breaks open … Did it though? Break open? Just like that? Or was that just a teeny bit staged? I'm just asking, that's all. They were probably off anyway.
Otherwise, lovely – a touching portrait of an amazing place with brilliant characters. And now we know who it is who watches Jeremy Kyle: pollocks. Appropriately.
So farewell, House (Sky1). Everybody Dies – episode number 177! – is the last. Not the greatest finale to a brilliant show. Maybe it's too ambitious for an hour of television; they're trying to cram in too much. House wakes up in a burning building, next to the body of a dead patient. He discusses the case with his subconscious, which takes the form of various characters from the House back catalogue – Lawrence Kutner, Amber Volakis, Stacy Warner, Allison Cameron. It's a way of saying some goodbyes, I guess, a curtain call, but four different personae for one subconscious, that's a big ask. And you need to be pretty much on top of the entire eight seasons to know exactly what's going on.
House is wrestling with his own demons too, deciding whether to try to get out of there alive. It's an interesting situation, one I'm sure everyone has wondered about – if people think you've died in something (like a fire) but you hadn't, would you run away and start again? It would certainly be tempting.
That's what House does. After the funeral (more curtain calls) comes the resurrection. And he's off on a mid-life crisis motorcycling holiday with best (only) mate Wilson. OK, end-of-life crisis for Wilson, because he's dying of cancer, and beginning-of-life crisis for House, because he's starting over. But even so, they're outside, it's bright and sunny, there's a feeling of optimism … well, not so much for Wilson of course. But for House it's almost like everything's going to be fine. And that doesn't seem quite right.
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