Britain and the Sea

Trade & Romance

Series 1 - Episode 3 Trade & Romance



David Dimbleby, salty sea dog and tattooed love-god, potters along the west coast of Scotland in his pretty boat Rocket. It’s the most leisurely, even ponderous, of journeys as Dimbers visits a magnificent castle owned by and lived in by a clan chief and his wife. We take a look at her power-shower before later hopping aboard a “Clyde Puffer”, a cute steamboat, along the Crinan Canal, “one of the most picturesque shortcuts in Britain”. Its captain won’t shake hands with his visitor until he’s come aboard because, according to maritime lore, “both of us will be dead by nightfall if we shake hands over water.’”

Later, after Dimbleby pauses to take snuff (“very delicious, lovely”), we glide up the Clyde to Glasgow.


David Dimbleby investigates the importance of the sea to trade and to the individual livelihoods of coastal communities. He sails along the west coast of Scotland, starting at Craobh Haven and along the Crinan Canal, a waterway designed by East Lothian engineer John Rennie to take 120 miles off the journey from the west coast to Glasgow and safely avoid the turbulent waters around the Mull of Kintyre. He also climbs aboard the last working sea-going Clyde puffer, where he earns his keep shovelling coal in the steam room, and reflects on the role played by the river in both trade and shipbuilding.

Cast & Crew

Presenter David Dimbleby
Director Graham Cooper
Producer Graham Cooper
Series Producer Alexander Leith
Series Producer Basil Comely