Call The Fishwife

18 04 2019

There has been plenty interest of late about Call The Midwife, the popular BBC Sunday evening drama, coming all the way to Lewis and Harris to film their Christmas Special. There have been hundreds of articulated lorries with studio equipment, mobile dressing rooms and catering facilities trundling up and down the Clisham over the last few weeks. And famous actors have been spotted all over the town’s most glamourous nightspots. It’s almost as if they were filming Machair all over again.

By a remarkable coincidence, the cast and crew of popular BBC Alba show ‘Call The Fishwife’ are currently down in the East End of London filming their own Nollaig Chridheal Special.

Call The Fishwife is a long running BBC Alba TV show about the Herring industry and the hard working herring girls that kept the barrels full and the catch salted.

Set in the poverty stricken East End kipper sheds of Stornoway of the late 50’s and early 60’s, the show has run for several seasons and has featured an ever changing ensemble cast of just about every Gaelic speaking actor from Machair.

The story is based around the memories of immigrant Hearach worker, and newly qualified Fishwife, Jenny LackaLee. Her tale is narrated throughout the show by well known actor Fishvanessa Redgrave.

The Fishwives were all employed by a Fish Merchant to provide fresh fish to a Presbyterian religious order to make sure that there was always plenty of fish for the Ministers’ and Elders’ teas. The Fishwives all lived together in NoNunsAtAll House, which was handy for Inaclete Road.

Each week the show has a number of hard hitting and socially relevant storylines, usually involving a gutting knife getting blunt, a barrel falling off a lorry or one of the Fishwive’s bikes getting a flat tyre. It usually ended with the Fishwives solving the problem and saving the hungry Ministers’ tea just in the nick of time.    

As well as Fishvanessa Redgrave, the stellar cast included well known actors like:

  • Jenny A-gutter who plays the Mother Fish-Supperior

  • Stephen McGannet (one of the famous McGannet acting dynasty, which also included Patrick McGuga, the star of The Parishioner – “I’m not a number; I’m a Free Church man” ) as Doctor Peatstack Burner

  • Pam CalMacFerries- Sister Fishvangelina

  • Helen Chorge – Trixie Fanklin

  • Miranda Cart-Hummy

  • Beinn Calanneilly- Police Sgt Peat Bogs


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