Don’t worry Vyvyan - eel be fine at Outwell in the Fens
'Are you gonna make supper, Neil, or am I gonna have to kick your teeth in..?' With catchphrases like that, actor and comedian Ade Edmondson – aka Vyvyan from cult 80s sitcom the Young Ones – might not seem the obvious choice to front a new TV series about traditional British produce.
But he's just been to sample eels from the Fens for an episode on country foods.
He teamed up with Peter Carter, once described as Norfolk's Crocodile Dundee, to track down the mysterious snake-like fish, and do the honours when it came to cooking them.
'The programme's all about local foods to certain areas and the things people do to catch them,' said Mr Carter. 'They did some ferreting out near Lynn as well. They filmed some bits in the workshop; we did some eel catching and then we cooked them up by the river.'
Outwell-based Mr Carter, whose family has been catching eels for centuries, uses traditional willow traps to hunt them.
Eels were once so common – and highly prized – that the stone to build Ely Cathedral was bought with them.
In more recent years, they were shipped to London by the boatload to make the Cockney sparrow's favourite jellied snack.
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Scientists say the creatures, which spawn in the Sargasso Sea, have declined sharply since the 1970s.
Anglers must now return them alive and very few fishermen are allowed to catch them commercially.
But in the Fens, they still say that when the trees are in bud, the eels come out of the mud.
And Mr Carter, who runs an eel-mongery and tackle shop opposite the post office in Outwell, said eels were showing in good numbers after a cold winter that saw the rivers frozen.
Mr Edmondson was said to be impressed with their distinctive flavour after an impromptu fry-up on the banks of Well Creek.
'I skinned them, chopped them up, dipped them in flour and fried them up in butter,' said Mr Carter. 'That's the best way to eat them.'
Ade Edmondson's 20-episode series, Ade on Britain, is set to be screened on ITV1 from November.