Last Night's Viewing: Bank of Dave, Channel 4

 

As Barclays' headhunters begin their search for a new chief executive, it seems unlikely that they will cast their net wide enough to find Dave Fishwick, a minibus dealer from Burnley. I suppose you can't really blame them: Dave hasn't got an awful lot of banking experience, and while he's a self-made millionaire who owns a cherry-red Ferrari and a helicopter with his name on it, his knowledge of credit instruments is rudimentary at best.

Still, it's a shame. Dave Fishwick might not be a career banker, but he has some pithy insights that the industry could stand to hear. "The bastard banks!" he snorts, slamming his car door, as Bank of Dave begins. "Fifty billion quid! How can you lose 50 billion quid and still pay bonuses?"

It's a good question, and one we'd all like answered. Being an entrepreneurial sort, though, Dave's response isn't limited to a critique of the current model; instead, he's planning to institute a new one. He's going to start his own bank, a people's bank, a single branch in Burnley offering market-leading interest rates and common-sense loans to local people who have seen their credit dry up since the financial crisis hit. Dave, who is irrepressible in the same way a fire engine is red, makes it sound simple.

It is not, in fact, simple at all. As a series of slightly shell-shocked-looking experts explain, Dave hasn't got a cat in hell's chance of opening a bank; besides anything else, he'll need £10m to guarantee deposits. (Banks, we are told in a phrase rich with post-Libor irony, are "tightly regulated by the Financial Services Authority"). At first, this doesn't particularly bother Dave: "Sometimes it's far easier just to go and do something than to get permission," he says. He tries to get Richard Branson's phone number. He tries to get Mervyn King's phone number, by calling directory inquiries, and asking to speak to Mervyn King at the Bank of England. He installs a cash machine and a safe and clocks set to New York and Burnley time on his £100-a-week premises, and presses doggedly on with an application for a licence that he is never going to be granted.

Only when one of his advisers awkwardly points out that if he refers to his enterprise as a bank without permission "it might be straight to jail" does reality begin to seep in. And wow, do we feel the unfairness on his behalf. Dave Fishwick is one of the most irresistible documentary heroes I've ever seen: boundlessly energetic, generous, optimistic, eccentric, and funny; unweighed-down by the world, able to wear his success lightly but not apologise for it, and blessed with a knack with people that makes everyone he comes across want him to succeed. He is exactly the sort of person I would like to be running a bank.

Most importantly of all, millionaire though he is, he still feels like the little guy. Two moments in particular: a visit to a career banker, who informs him that he should beware of having "ideas above his station"; and an encounter with a seven-year-old boy gazing longingly at his Ferrari, who Dave invites to sit behind the wheel, and who listens attentively as our hero tells him firmly that if he works hard enough he can have one himself one day.

The gods do appear to smile on Dave a bit. He at least gets a licence to lend money, so that even if he can't look after other people's cash, he can at least give them his. It seems a curious banking model, particularly when he hands over several thousand pounds to a tropical fish merchant who would vaguely like to buy a couple of sharks, but it's certainly more charming than the Bob Diamond approach. It is hard, above all, to imagine that when Mr Diamond gets a rare piece of good news from the FSA, he fishes a banana from his pocket to celebrate. "'I was saving this for later," says Dave, a man with a Ferrari who can be made happy by a piece of fruit.

Twitter: @archiebland

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
    La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

    Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

    The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
    10 best high-end laptops

    10 best high-end laptops

    From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
    Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
    Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
    Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

    Meet Racton Man

    Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
    Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

    Garden Bridge

    St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

    An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
    Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

    Joint Enterprise

    The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
    Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

    Freud and Eros

    Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum