Isle of Man Coast


Isle of Man

A journey around the coast of the United Kingdom. The team explores the Isle of Man, where Miranda Krestovnikoff searches for the biggest sharks in British waters.


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Question. Which landmass lies right at the heart of the British Isles,

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but is not part of the UK? Has its own Celtic language,

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but was ruled for 200 years by the Vikings,

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and - according to legend -

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is protected by a cloak-like mist summoned by the sea god Manannon?

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Where else, but the Isle of Man?

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The Isle of Man is just 16 miles

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off the mainland.

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But it's independent of the United Kingdom and the European Union.

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That stretch of Irish Sea really does make all the difference.

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It never ceases to amaze me.

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I spend all this time travelling around the British Isles, but I keep

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finding whole places that I've never been to, and this is one of them.

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The port of Douglas has a perfect seafront, like a child's picture book.

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But I've an appointment in a more ancient settlement - Castletown.

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The guide books tell you that the Isle of Man has the oldest

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parliament in the world, the Tynwald, founded in 979.

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But who does it represent?

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Who are the Manx people?

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And what is that weird symbol I'm seeing everywhere?

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If anyone knows, it'll be Butch Buttery - fisherman, chef and Manxman.

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Butch, what is it that makes this place tick?

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It's the independence, I think.

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It's the fact that we're not English,

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not Irish, not Scottish.

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We're very much our own people here.

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We're not big on natural resources, we've only ever had farming and fishing.

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The economy is driven by the difference in taxation. Our taxation is lower than the mainland.

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Our income tax is only 10%,

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so we have a lot of financial services here, insurance services.

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I suppose, historically,

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our tax rates on brandy and tobacco were lower than those in the UK,

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so vessels would put in here and unload cargos,

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which would be smuggled back to the mainland.

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What is it with the three-legged symbol?

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It's an ancient Norse symbol. But to me and to Manx people,

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it's our flag, badge, it's a symbol of our nation. It means,

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"Whichever way you throw me, I will stand."

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It symbolises resourcefulness of the Manx people.

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It's not just about giving everyone a good kick?

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-It's nothing to do with giving everyone a good kicking, no.

-When I go on holiday,

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one thing I think about is good food. Is there good food here?

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Fantastic. Particularly the seafood.

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The warm currents of the Gulf Stream create a rich supply of plankton round the island,

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ideal for raising the shellfish known locally as "queenies,"

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and to you and me as queen scallops.

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I'm about to get a cookery lesson in the style of Mad Manx.

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It's a serious burner you've got there, Butch.

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There's no point in fiddling around with camping stoves, is there?

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Let's get the show on the road now.

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Olive oil.

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A bit of garlic.

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Two shallots. They don't need to be cooked for more than two minutes,

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a minute and a half, something like that.

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We have got purity laws here on beer, ice-cream, and the food that we produce.

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They're very restrictive about what you can do with them.

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You can't use chemicals. ..A little bit of parsley.

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And then, really to finish it, when they are as done as you want them to be,

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a wee bit of wine.

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-It's all my favourite things, all in the same place!

-Yeah. On here...

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Have a fork.

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-Doesn't get any better than that.

-That's gorgeous.

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Moving west, we come to a resort popular since Victorian times.

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Port Erin lies in a tranquil bay but, like other holiday destinations

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on the island, it has a darker past.

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With the coming of the Second World War,

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its hotels became home to a different kind of visitor.

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Alice Roberts uncovers their story.

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Port Erin is a picturesque seaside town, but those coming in 1940

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weren't arriving at a holiday resort, they were coming to prison.

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In that summer of 1940, a German invasion of Britain

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was expected daily. Amid fears of a fifth column of enemy sympathisers,

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German, Austrian and Italian immigrants to Britain were rounded up all over the country.

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They were brought to the Isle Of Man for internment.

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This is a photograph of the people that had been rounded up

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from their homes and brought here

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in 1940. You just wonder what was going through their minds

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as they arrived here and faced an uncertain future.

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Rosemary Wood's parents were Austrian.

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In 1940, she was just 14

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and living in London with her mother and sister.

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Rosemary, when did you first find out that you were going to be moved

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to the Isle of Man and interned here?

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When my mother heard it on the radio, the next morning two policemen

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came to the door and said, "You know what we've come for?"

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My mother said, "Yes, do you expect me to leave the house

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"and the children, and the cat and the dog?"

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And they said, "We'll come back in an hour's time, if that suits you."

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You had an hour to pack everything?

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Yes. We went into the police car and then they took us on to board the train for Liverpool.

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Walking through the streets was the worst part

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because there were angry bystanders shouting, "Hang the lot of them."

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Other people threw missiles, but luckily nothing hit us.

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My mother said, "Just look down at the floor and don't take any notice."

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Sounds like quite a traumatic journey.

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You must have been relieved when you got here.

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Yes, there was a sense of relief that we'd reached the end of the journey.

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Around 15,000 foreign nationals were interned on the island.

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Men were housed in camps in Douglas and Ramsey.

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Port Erin was designated for women and children.

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In the men's camps, hotels and guest houses were requisitioned

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with barbed-wire running along the promenades.

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In Port Erin, the women and children internees

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were allowed to move around freely, albeit under police supervision.

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What happened when you arrived in Port Erin?

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We were met at the railway station

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by several policewomen, and they grouped us off

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-into batches of about 22 people and marched us up this promenade.

-Right.

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We were told to follow this Sergeant Pike, who was a big burly woman.

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When we got to about this point, my mother said to her, "How much further have we got to go?

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"We are tired carrying all this luggage?"

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And she said, "We are going right up to those houses in the distance, you see."

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We lingered at the back of this group of 22, and at the next turning on the right here,

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my mother said, "We are turning down here."

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I was terrified of disobeying this policewoman, but she said to stay around here out of sight.

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We hovered there for a while and then my mother looked round.

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When they were over the hill and out of sight,

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she turned round and knocked on the door of the Eagle Hotel.

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That was what used to be here?

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That's right. They demolished the hotel, the original building.

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The landlady in the booth asked us what we wanted

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and my mother said, "We have lost our guide, can you give us accommodation here?"

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The Eagle Hotel became Rosemary's home for the next year,

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because her Austrian mother took the bold decision

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to ignore their police escort.

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On the other side of the island, the men had no such freedom.

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Yvonne Creswell has researched the internment camps' history.

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So this is another

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Isle of Man camp, is it?

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That's it. This is the Mooragh camp in Ramsey,

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and it's fairly typical. You have a section of hotels...

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on the promenade, and just barbed-wire put round them.

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Guards sat at all the entrances and exits,

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as you can see here in Hutchinson camp.

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It looks like a concentration camp, doesn't it? With the barbed wire.

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That's the terrifying thing when we look at them now.

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-Did they have jobs to do while they were here?

-Well, no.

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Boredom is the biggest threat.

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Artists painted, writers wrote,

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and places like Hutchinson was known as the camp university

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because there were so many German and Austrian academics,

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but several camps also produced their own newspapers.

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This is a cartoon of where the Isle of Man is in relation to

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the rest of Europe, and...

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-the three-legged symbol with barbed wire around it.

-That's it.

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It truly was an island of barbed wire at that time.

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As the threat of an invasion receded, the public mood changed

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and many foreign internees were released.

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But Rosemary Wood and her mother

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were in no hurry to return to London.

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They'd come to the Isle of Man expecting a prison.

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What they'd found was a haven from the war.

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I can't believe how lucky we were, looking back. The sun

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seemed to shine every day. We had swimming costumes, we were in and out of the water,

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sitting on the beach, chatting to the other internees.

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The scenery here is so beautiful.

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We could walk up to the hill, we could walk to Port St Mary.

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We were so lucky because it must have been the cushiest camp in the world.

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How do you feel about it now, coming back all these years later

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to this place where you were actually kept a prisoner?

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We were away from the Blitz, we were safe, we had a roof over our head

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and food. Not luxurious food, but we were housed and fed,

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knowing that so many people on the Continent were in far worse circumstances.

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We just counted ourselves very lucky.

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Release finally came for Rosemary in 1942,

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and a reluctant return to wartime London.

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From Prison Island to Fantasy Island,

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the latest turn of the tide for the Isle of Man.

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The last decade has brought over 80 films and TV dramas here.

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What filmmaker could resist stunning scenery and spectacular tax breaks?

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Films like Waking Ned in Cregneash,

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Churchill The Hollywood Years in Castletown,

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and Stormbreaker in Port Erin have attracted a galaxy of stars.

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Penelope Cruz, Christian Slater, Ewan McGregor, Johnny Depp.

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But for every big name,

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the Isle of Man has many more just waiting to break through.

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Hello. My name is Charlie Henry and for a day job,

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I'm duty manager for the shipping line which runs to the Isle of Man.

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But I have a very interesting sideline

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in the active film industry

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within the island, where I am a film extra,

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and I've now been fortunate to appear in over 40 productions.

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This is from the film Keeping Mum, which had Rowan Atkinson.

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I was in it as a footballer.

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Also in this particular movie is Patrick Swayze.

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This is taken from Piccadilly Jim.

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The main star was Brenda Blethyn.

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She is such an amazing professional, and also, she is such a nice person.

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I had one good night out at one of the nightclubs, and Brenda was giving it as much as everyone else.

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She was really enjoying it.

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Today, I'm about to film an advertisement,

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and I am going to play a fisherman.

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Action.

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Everybody has the one eye on Hollywood,

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but basically, I'm very happy here on the island and enjoying what I'm doing.

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Hollywood royalty crossing the oceans to the Isle of Man is a recent phenomenon.

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But for thousands of years, the island's warm summer waters

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have brought some of the biggest stars of the aquatic world.

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Miranda Krestovnikoff is stalking that most elusive of celebrities, the basking shark.

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Basking sharks can be seen off various parts

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of the British coastline, but the locals here

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reckon they have the absolute top spot

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if you want to catch a glimpse of these marine giants.

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As summer warms our coastal waters,

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basking sharks move up the coastline from Cornwall to the Isle of Man,

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and eventually as far north as the Western Isles of Scotland.

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June and July are supposed to be the best months to see them around the island.

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I've come to try and swim with one of the most spectacular animals

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in British waters, but first I've got to find them.

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John Galpin is one of the island's keenest shark spotters.

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One of the great features of them

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is that you can see an animal which has been on the planet for 200 million years

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and you can watch some of the most amazing things like the mating,

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the courtship behaviour,

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perhaps even giving birth,

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but you have to put some time into it to see these exciting things.

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I'm fortunate, because I have got a tolerant wife

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and she lets me have huge binoculars in the bedroom,

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so you see some amazing things at six in the morning. Sharks, whales, all sorts.

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But this is a great vantage point for watching basking sharks.

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I tend to do most of my work from the shore.

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You then get a much broader panorama and you can see them doing things.

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I'm particularly interested in their courtship behaviour.

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-Have you seen them courting?

-We get them courting here a lot.

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About 150 yards offshore, this pair came together and they came and entwined themselves.

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There was a big churning in the water and there they were, mating sharks, 150 metres off the shore here.

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What have we got out there? Any fins breaking the surface?

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I can't see any fins just at the moment.

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John is not the island's only shark fan. There is even a Shark Watch update on local radio.

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'Manx Radio.

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'You are listening to Manx Radio. Keep those sightings coming this morning. The more we get,

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'the more information we put towards the Manx Basking Shark Watch.'

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Jackie Hall is a marine biologist and founder of the Manx Basking Shark Watch.

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Hopefully, her inside knowledge will get me an encounter with a shark.

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I'm familiar with the Isle of Man as being

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a hot spot for basking sharks.

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-What brings them up here?

-The Isle of Man

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is bathed in warm water

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that's come up from the Atlantic, carried by the Gulf Stream.

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And, as the water warms up, we get plankton bloom,

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-and the sharks are here to eat that plankton.

-Conditions today?

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Not that marvellous. Because it's not flat, oily calm.

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There is something over there.

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Wow!

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There's his tail as well. Did you see his tail up, that time?

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That's fairly typical, just feeding,

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with his mouth wide open, just under the surface.

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It never ceases to be exciting, does it?

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I've seen lots of basking sharks and you do get excited!

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He's doing that typical, zig-zagged feeding pattern.

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They find an in the water strandline of plankton

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and they just zig-zag feed, backwards and forwards through it.

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-How big do you reckon that one is?

-Probably an eight-metre one, but let's wait until we get in closer.

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'This is my chance.

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'There's nothing like seeing these sharks up close to take your breath away.

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'It's only now that their size really hits you.

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'They're as big as a bus and twice the weight of an elephant.

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'That huge mouth looks daunting, but they don't bite.

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'They feed by filtering from the water the minute organisms that make up plankton.

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'Sticky mucus on their gills traps the food as it flows by,

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'and they can really move.

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'A flick of the tail and he's gone.'

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A journey around the coast of the United Kingdom.

The team explores the Isle of Man, where Miranda Krestovnikoff searches for the biggest sharks in British waters. Alice Roberts meets a woman with a remarkable story of childhood in the Isle of Man's internment camps, where 'enemy aliens' in Britain were held during World War II.


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