Roger Barton, star of BBC2’s Inside Billingsgate (2012), is one of Britain’s most charismatic market traders. He’s worked in London’s Billingsgate Fish Market for fifty-five years. His time in the market has earned him a fortune, a couple of criminal convictions and the nickname ‘The Bastard of Billingsgate’. He’s a ruthless trader, who worships the pound note and hates coming second. A workaholic, his hard graft in the market has come at a cost – he’s been through two marriages (he always got married on a Monday, when the fish market was closed), and he’s taken just five weeks holiday in fifty years. The Bastard’s seen nothing of the world – until now.
Roger’s off to follow a dream of visiting the world’s greatest food markets: New Fulton Fish Market in New York, where a billion dollars of trade is done each year; Central de Abasto in Mexico City, the world’s largest food market, where 400,000 people come each day to earn a living; and Delhi’s Azadpur market, the largest fruit and veg market in Asia.
But he’s not going as a tourist. Roger knows the only way to get under the skin of a market is to do a bit of business there. The producers have given him a fighting fund to trade with. Pitting himself against some of the world’s sharpest traders, can Roger make a few quid, in another man’s land?
Billingsgate – and London’s other great wholesale markets – may be in decline, but around the world markets remain the beating heart of the greatest cities on the planet. Markets tell you the story of a city. They are a mainline into commerce and culture at every level of society, from the poorest slum dog to the fattest fat cat. Feeding whole cities and beyond, fortunes can be won and lost overnight; this is capitalism in its rawest form. Operating at night, dealing in cash and men-only, markets are closed and hostile worlds, no places for newcomers – especially those who are looking to muscle in on the customers.