Warning: Contains serious spoilers.
Meet Dave Fishwick. He’s balding, he’s from Burnley, and he doesn’t give a shit. Only he doesn’t give a shit in the best possible way: see, Dave’s idea of being wealthy isn’t really the same as most people’s, especially the bankers. Instead of holidaying non-stop, paying himself ridiculous bonuses and alternating drives in various expensive sports cars, Dave’s dream, at the beginning of this completely inspirational Channel 4 programme, is to open a tiny bank that’s run by the people for the people, and give any profits to charity. In other words, he’s the kindest banker you could ever hope to meet (and a hell of a lot kinder than the git at Barclays who refused to lend me £10 when I was 16 — despite my glowing record — but that’s another story. I hope that git is reading this).
Only there’s a problem and it’s serious: despite being one of the most inspiring people to ever come out of Burnley — a list which doesn’t offer too much in the way of competition, it has to be said… — Dave is every financial experts worst nightmare come true. Not only is he belligerent as hell and immune to virtually all obstacles, but he doesn’t believe in the word No and hates the big banks as each of us do, if not more. 20 minutes into the show, here was a man who made the legend of Robin Hood look lazy. I wondered if every single person watching the show was, like me, wondering how they could join the Bank Of Dave and get the hell away from their current bank as soon as possible…
I have to admit it, though: when I saw the trailers for Bank Of Dave, I was cynical for all the obvious reasons that anyone reasonably would be. Firstly, I struggled with the idea of why a seemingly average wealthy businessman from the grim North would want to open a bank, and secondly, anything with a TV show attached to it makes me instantly suspicious and liable to disbelieve it. But it didn’t last long. As the days passed, I found myself considering the idea more and more, doing some research, and by the time today came around — Thursday July 12th, 2012 — I was more or less convinced: Bank Of Dave wasn’t going to be some shoddily put together documentary piece. It was going to be just what we all needed. A bit of hope. Something good for once that promised and actually delivered.
And nobody can reasonably accuse Bank Of Dave, episode 1, of not delivering something. We’re talking about a guy who had every single obstacle thrown in his face over many months, condensed into an hour-long viewing period. An ordinary bloke that was standing up to the financial forces and saying fuck you. Quite literally, as it happened. Like I said, Dave really doesn’t give a shit and his thoroughly northern use of expletives is about as creative as it gets. And why would he care and listen, actually? The man has clearly done well for himself. OK, so he knows as much about opening and running bank as that bloody Songpop thing on Facebook — I still have no idea what the hell that is — but so what? It’s not like he isn’t in good company, and like Dave said, “I can hardly do worse than they [the banks] have.”
Dave’s first main struggle was to find out how to actually open a bank. Easy, thought Dave, I’ll just Google it. Unsurprisingly, this spewed immediate problems. The first of which was a recurrent theme throughout the episode: he could open a money lending outfit, but he couldn’t open a bank — so said various experts. Like Dave was going to listen!
Not to be out-done, and still impervious to criticism, Dave predictably went on the rampage. Remember: here is a man with an almost disturbing level of enthusiasm. Dave’s just not gonna take it, he’s gonna keep on going — never surrender!
For a while, it was looking really good. Mainly because Dave wasn’t looking at the negatives, and in part due to him opening the bank regardless of any kind of official papers which he was supposed to possess. And this was the part that really made me smile. Dave wasn’t waiting for anyone, and the entrepreneur in him didn’t give a monkey’s about upsetting people or causing a fuss. Instead of just sitting at home waiting, or giving in to what the experts wanted him to do — not open a bank and instead open a building society, but preferably just go home and never leave the house again — Dave was just doing it. Exactly the kind of thing we need to see on TV, to remind us that sometimes, it’s about what you do, not just what you say.
It was then, shortly after acquiring the world’s smallest banking safe — probably from Amazon — that things really got interesting. Following a miniature radio campaign and opening, Bank On Dave! was finally unleashed on the public. No more pissing about with endless nonsensical forms and all that crap, Dave — along with a young Burnley banking geek who hadn’t yet been corrupted by the system — was ready to lend and lend he would.
By this point, I was totally enthralled. Dave’s ideas and philosophy on life were seriously addictive, and even though half the stuff he said sounded outlandish, you couldn’t help but believe that it was going to happen anyway. And who had a right to say it wouldn’t? The man had made a huge success of his own company, so why not this?
What followed from there on was some of the most bizarre, banking-related TV anyone is likely to ever see. Things like Dave visiting Steve Punchard’s Tropical Fish Superstore — pride of Burnley’s fish passion, and no, I didn’t make that name up — to discuss with Steve Punchard himself how much a shark costs. “Probably about £500,” said Steve Punchard with a completely straight face, who’s name I just love writing. Dave might well come to be known as the man who single-handedly caused numbers of black-tip reef shark to rise in the UK, but he’s also an ingenious amateur banker who will happily lend you £8,000 plus on trust and instinct — the two main things which the banks despise. The man really is a one-and-only…
Then, just when you thought it was a done deal, came the big punch in the face: the FSA — the people who had been put in place with the precise job of keeping financial vigilantes like Dave eternally out of their business — got in touch and said he’d need to raise £10 million Euros in order to keep trading…
Was Dave phased? Of course he was, but like I said before, he doesn’t give a shit! Look out for more from the man same time, next week.
I can’t wait to see what’s coming next. Thank fuck for Dave Fishwick.
Update: new post now up about the phenomenon of Bank Of Dave, which concludes tonight, Thursday the 19th at 9pm on Channel 4.