The programme opened with the statistic that 110,000 companies have been liquidated since 1990, an alarming tally of loss and disappointment, and its principal charge was that that number would have been considerably smaller if liquidators weren't self-regulating. To the man in the street, the fact that investigating accountants, who enter troubled companies to establish whether they are still financially viable, are often the same people who pick up the lucrative liquidation fees is self-evidently a conflict of interests. It's as if the doctor who signed your death certificate was running a profitable undertaking business on the side. But that's the trouble with the man on the street - they simply don't understand these complex matters. Mr Stewart put them straight: "That's just not the way professionals work!" he exclaimed, as shocked as if his members had been accused of sexually molesting farm animals, "They will recommend independently what they think is best".
The Royal Bank of Scotland does not take the same trusting view, and its experience suggests it is right to be sceptical - after decreeing that the Investigating Accountant for a troubled business should never be appointed as the Receiver, it discovered a marked drop in closures compared to the general trend. What's more, the bank reduced the sizeable fees payed out for liquidations by insisting on competitive tender. Mr Stewart conceded that it was the Bank's prerogative to run its business as it wished, in a tone of voice that suggested it had decided to hold board meetings in the nude.
Nor did his assurances that self-regulation was working stand much chance against the programme's anecdotes. One small businessman called in the liquidators after running into trouble during the recession. They assiduously raised pounds 24,000 from his assets and debtors, the only problem being that it was effectively eaten up by fees, costs and interest charges. Another self-employed man saw a debt of pounds 8,000 turned into one of almost pounds 20,000 - he died of a stroke, which left his widow with enough money to pay all his bills, including the pounds 650 the liquidators charged him for calls and stationery. She also complained, but the Society of Practitioners of Insolvency took the view that "no further action was warranted". The film cut to a large pile of fresh horse dung at the reporter's feet, a sardonic note which was echoed by the decision to give Mr Stewart the last word: "If there's one thing we fail to do", he said, all injured pride, "it's that we fail to get across what a good job we do."
Bad Boys (BBC1), a standard rogue's opera set in Glasgow, is broadcast late in the evening, but its natural home is children's television. The plot is Blytonesque in its implausibility: buried treasure, overheard plans and adventures - while the writing has what you might charitably call a youthful taste for corny wordplay. It is harmless, for all that, and if you like the idea of a drama in which a menacing thug hijacks a pleasure cruiser from a bunch of toffs and then declaims "Who says there's no such thing as a free launch?", then you may well enjoy it. My head will not obstruct your view.
Broadcaster unveils Christmas scheduleTV
Jeff Fletcher found fame in 1990s
'At times I thought he was me'film
Review: One Direction, Fourmusic
Review: The World of Ice and Firebooks
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
- 2 To help fuel their propaganda machine against the poor, our government has now decided to redefine the word 'welfare'
- 3 Bill Cosby: Isn’t it obvious why his accusers have stayed silent up until now?
- 4 Halle Berry takes ex-boyfriend Gabriel Aubry to court for allegedly trying to make daughter look less African-American
- 5 Isis propaganda image showing 'abuse of Muslim woman by soldiers' is actually taken from Hungarian porn film
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Revealed: How the world gets rich – from privatising British public services
Exclusive: UK approved £7m Israeli arms sales in six months before Gaza conflict