Philip the butcher is the star of his own 'TV show'

Social media has many positives and one of the good news stories in recent months has been the emergence of Parkin TV presented by Howden butcher Philip Parkin on his Facebook page.

The couple film Philip in his Howden butcher's shop

Such has been the popularity of his weekly broadcast, filmed on his partner Marie’s mobile phone every Friday morning and sometimes on Thursday evening when the shop has just closed, with Marie as producer, director and prompter, that several have gone viral, with one that touched a nerve over Brexit garnering hundreds of thousands of views.

Last month Philip and Marie picked up a Goole & Howdenshire Business Award run by the Humber Chamber of Trade for his cheery weekly TV presenter duties, where he will take the mickey out of himself as much as bringing a smile to faces with banter that those who regularly visit the shop will bear witness is his everyday persona.

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Everybody that enters the shop in Market Place in the lovely little market town of Howden gets a line, a greeting. He knows everyone, knows what they like, what they want, but not anymore! Parkin TV has brought Philip, Marie and Charlotte and Paul who work alongside them a new audience. New customers are arriving at the shop every week.

“We’ve gained a lot of younger customers,” says Philip. “They’ll come in and say ‘It’s him off telly!’, or somebody we had in today who was going down to Milton Keynes for the weekend popped into Howden from the top side of York.

“He’d seen one of the little weekly videos, bought a dozen pork and sage sausages and said: ‘I’ve seen you on Facebook for the past six months and finally I’ve met you. He was here at 8 o’clock this morning. Our first customer of the day.

“I’ve always felt that when people come in the shop they want a bit of cheer, a bit of brightness. They don’t want to come in and listen to me go on about doom and gloom, or my leg or arm hurts. They’re in the shop for five minutes, we like them to enjoy the experience of being here, see the meat we have on offer and then relieve them of what we can.

“The name of the game is to sell meat and we always put on a big show of what we have. Last week I’d promoted the mature Hereford X beef on the Friday morning and it was nearly all vouched for by lunchtime. Gone like wildfire. Our game sausages were an unbelievable success.

“I thought I was a simple old butcher in Howden chopping up meat. We’re not doing anything different to what we did 20 years ago, it’s just that now we’ve a bigger audience.

“A sausage a day, keeps the coronavirus away,” was one of Philip’s cheeky lines in last Friday’s broadcast that had over 15,000 views. He’s tackled each current issue with similar humour.

He’s used rubber chickens in his videos, he’s made a point of showing how often he washes his hands, cricket, rugby, the Cheltenham Festival have all been mentioned.

“Nothing we do is too serious. We’re not trying to be political. When we did the Brexit video all I did was showed a ‘before’ and ‘after’ Brexit. I just took a step back after explaining the meat before Brexit and then took a breath and showed it was going to be exactly the same. It’s about having fun, selling meat. We don’t encourage debate. I’ve built a strong fence that I’m happy to sit on and have done for 35 years of working in retail.”

When Philip was attacked by a vegan activist lobby on his page, he simply turned his next week’s video into a focus on vegetables with a full butcher’s block of veg replacing the meat.

It was Philip’s brother, David, who runs two butchers shops in Crowle and Epworth who came up with the idea initially and egged Philip on to having a go, now more butchers are following suit.

“Originally I said I wasn’t doing it but it’s really snowballed beyond belief and I now enjoy doing it. I don’t mind what customers might say, they might say they’ve been to see ‘daft lad’ in Howden, but this has been great for my little town.

“That’s been the best thing for me, not the personal gain. It has brought more visitors to the shop and the town, particularly on a Saturday when there’s now a real buzz. We’ve even got a couple of people who are considering sponsoring me wearing some of their clothing or using their butchers’ knives.

“Marie is the brains behind it all. The cogs are going from the beginning of the week on my side, but Marie is very quick. She’s on the pulse of what is happening and puts me right.

“I’m inclined to wander and fire something somewhat irrelevant into the script.”