It was lights, camera, action as a former defence secretary nipped in for fish supper while filming for his latest TV show.
British journalist, broadcaster and former politician and defence secretary, Michael Portillo, popped into an award-winning Stonehaven fish and chip shop on Monday as he wraps up filming for his latest series of Great British Railway Journeys.
Taking a trip north, Michael caught up with The Bay Fish and Chips owner, Calum Richardson, to find out more about the business, and local area as part of the show.
Calum took the former defence secretary, who served under both Margaret Thatcher and John Major, for a walk around Stonehaven to show off the coastal town and all it has to offer.
The production team were interested in the fish and chip shop due to it being named as one of the best food experiences in the world by Lonely Planet in 2018, ranking at 31, Britain’s highest entry.
He said: “Michael’s filming for his latest series of Great British Railway Journeys. The team contacted me a few months ago and asked if I’d be up for it. They were really keen because of the Lonely Planet ties, that was quite a pull. They wanted to go to Dunnottar Castle and The Bay.
“They came and filmed three or four weeks ago without Michael. They did close ups of me cooking and that sort of thing and wanted to do this in advance to reduce filming with him because of Covid-19.
“When he was here I took him down to the harbour and told them about the flooding and the fundraising we had done with it, about the fireballs, and everything Stonehaven has going for it.
“They have been on a trail throughout Scotland and were near St Andrews with East Neuk Salt Co. and they went to Peterhead Fish Market, too. The town has so much to offer so I wanted to show him it.”
Hit the spot
Mr Portillo, who was only at the venue for one day, was served a haddock supper, which Calum said he gave “rave reviews” of.
He added: “We chatted over the range initially and then he came into the back and I showed him how to fry. He was asking about the produce, the oil, and then went off to film with a fish supper.
“He loved it and the crew that were up a few weeks ago had fish suppers, scampi and fishcakes and they messaged me to say how amazing it was.
“I was getting building work done and messaged them to tell them it might not be done for filming and they said ‘no way!’. I think them coming and trying it was what helped.”
However this isn’t the first time the Stonehaven businessman has met the broadcast journalist. After spending time in the Navy, Calum recalls two additional occasions he had met Michael, including a time on board the ship he was working on.
He added: “I’ve actually met him before when I was in the navy. He was defence secretary and he came on board my ship and had a chat with me as he was away to cull a lot of people.
“I met him a couple years ago at the Royal Warrant Holders Banquet as well.”
Filming for the latest series is continuing.