Edinburgh fishmonger stunned after going viral on TikTok with video of fish cutting viewed 3.3 million times

The Capital fishmonger, who has worked at a local fish shop for almost 30 years, was left stunned when he gained thousands of followers on TikTok after posting a video of him cutting a lemon sole.

Friday, 25th October 2019, 5:00 pm
Updated Friday, 25th October 2019, 5:56 pm

An Edinburgh fishmonger went viral on TikTok overnight after a video of him cutting and gutting a fish at a popular local fish shop raked in 3.3 million views.

William Ronald Elliot, known as Ronald the Fish on the social media video app for creating and sharing short videos, said he is still shocked and stunned that his video has done so well, and hopes more people will learn about fish when following his account.

The 46-year-old local works at Edinburgh's fish institution Eddie's seafood market in Marchmont, where he has been cutting and gutting fish since he was 17.

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The Edinburgh fishmonger has been working at a local seafood market for almost 30 years. Picture: Jane Cunningham

He said: "This job, cutting fish, is the only job I've ever had, because at the time, I never went to university and all that, so I started out in a gutter job.

"I first worked in Newhaven at the Fish Market, but then I met my current boss at the market and he was looking for a fishmonger, so I was invited for an interview and I've been there every since.

"I love the fish trade, even though the winter is cold, it is still good, and it's also healthy because I eat a lot of fish. My favourite is halibut, which is expensive, but when it is fresh from the sea, it's so good."

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William, or Ronald the Fish, went viral on TikTok after his video of him cutting a lemon sole was viewed over 3.3 million times. Picture: Jane Cunningham

Backstreet Fishmonger

Three months ago, after seeing his daughter make videos on TikTok and Dubsmash, another video messaging app, William decided to make his own account, but couldn't decide what to include in his videos.

He explained: "TikTok is all about putting your own stamp on things and being creative, and I was wondering what I should do.

"I saw the videos of 'gravity is working against me' with water, so I did one and chucked a fish in the air, and it got thousands of views.

"Because I'm a fishmonger, I decided I should make videos about fish. I thought it would be a laugh and I love the videos, but I never thought anything would come of it."

Earlier this week, his colleagues filmed him working on a lemon sole, his favourite fish to cut, and he decided to put the video online before going to bed.

When he woke up, the video had gone viral: "I got up in the morning and checked, and had gained thousands of followers, I couldn't believe it.

"Since then, in the last few days, people have been streaming it all the time, and it is global, people are watching from India, America, Thailand, not just in the UK.

"I have been on TikTok for three months, I know people who have been on it for years and don't have this number of views.

"I am just so stunned, most people wouldn't think a backstreet fishmonger would get this amount of views cutting a fish."

Entertaining and educating

When William, who now has over 15,000 followers on TikTok, first started in the trade, he only knew about haddock, but soon learned more about the business when he became a fishmonger.

He hopes that through his videos, more people who don't know much about fish will become informed about the different species.

He said some fish are easier to cut than others: "I can do a sea bass in under one minute, take the skin off and gut it too, but skates are really hard to cut.

"They have these hoops like barbed wire, and cutting through them is hard, so you have to be careful."

Cutting fish as quickly as William does can be quite dangerous, and his advice to people wanting to cut fish like him is simple: "It is not as easy as it looks.

"Especially in the winter they eat plankton and that makes them go very soft , so the skins can break up if you're not experienced.

"You always have to cut away from you, because some fish will twist and if you cut towards yourself, you can stab yourself with the knife.

"I was cutting the bone of a fish and the knife went into my arm. I am left-handed, and have a lot of cuts on my right arm and hand."

On his left hand, there are no cuts, but he does have a tattoo which from afar resembles a prawn, however this isn't a symbol for his love of fish.

William said: "I got this tattoo when I was 17, when I started in this business, but if you look closely it is meant to be a leopard tattoo, the artist mucked it up and now it looks like a prawn.

"A lot of people ask me whether it is a prawn because I am a fishmonger, but he just made a mistake, it was an accident that it became more like a fish."

Supportive Colleagues

One of his earlier videos included the owner of Eddie's seafood market, who knows about the videos and has even put up a sign in the window saying his shop is where the man with 3.3 million views works.

The master fishmonger, Eddie Kwok, said: "Of course I am proud, he does so well. He has been with us for quite a long time, over twenty years, and he is by far the fastest in cutting fish.

"We don't mind him making the videos, he has been so helpful and he does it in his spare time, and it is good advertisement for me."

Asked what is next for him, William said: "I will put another Ikea video up tonight, this time of me pretending to be a T-Rex.

"Although most of my videos on TikTok feature fish, I think it is also good to do other things."

In his videos, William can also be seen dancing, doing duets with other TikTok users and exploring Edinburgh.