Warning: contains spoilers
PART 1: DAVE SAYS “BALLS TO CONVENTION”
How much do the banks hate Dave Fishwick now the final episode of his series has aired? My guess is a lot, and that’s bloody brilliant. What’s even more brilliant is this: there’s probably not a banking executive in the whole country who watched the conclusion of Bank Of Dave and didn’t feel physically sick and like someone had just taken a toxic-waste dump on their doorstep. But then…you can’t blame them for not taking Bank Of Dave seriously and all this creeping up on them now, when it’s too late. I didn’t either when I first heard about it…I mean, if someone tells you there’s a Channel 4 show on soon about a mini-bus millionaire from Burnley who’s decided to open the world’s smallest bank, you wouldn’t be normal if you didn’t laugh out loud. Yet now, nobody should be laughing. Something tells me that Monday morning’s at work are going to feel a whole lot more grim if you work at HSBC or RBS.
As soon as the Channel 4 voice-over girl said, seconds before the show started, “Dave tries his hand at casino banking as he hits Las Vegas”, I knew we were in for some great TV. I deliberately hadn’t checked the TV guide to see a summary, so this news of Dave hitting Las Vegas was nothing less than mind-bending.
First came a typical Channel 4-style recap of last week’s shenanigans: Dave in a stainless steel lift looking like he wanted to drown a banker, swiftly followed by the concept – Dave wasn’t just opening up any old shitty little bank, he was opening up a bank embodied with all the right, proper, northern-style sensibilities. The same sensibilities that you get every time you order chips anywhere past Sheffield (and they come with mushy peas!). In the case of Dave’s bank, this meant 5% interest on savings, then taking that money and lending it out to local people in the surrounding community. And then came the best bit…he was going to give all the profits to charity. No more bonuses, none of that bullshit!
For any banker watching, it must have felt a lot like being buried alive…
Unsurprisingly, all this no-nonsense, no-messing action had got the attention of the people of Burnley in a big way. The fact that Dave was risking everything was also appalling from a dramatic point of view. Much as I wanted Dave to succeed, I can’t deny that the fact he might not made it pretty bloody exciting TV.
Off we went. This final episode of Bank Of Dave reminded me a bit, in the best possible way, of being at school stuck next to this boy who really loved drawing Cockatoos. Don’t get me wrong, I love exotic birds as much as the next man, but this lad…he really did love Cockatoos more than anyone else you could reasonably hope to meet. And that was the level of crazed enthusiasm that Dave had at all times on screen, no less. Short he may be, but get Fishwick talking and you’re not going anywhere until that vision is completely embedded in your DNA.
Now we’d done a quick recap for all the people who didn’t watch the first episode — shame on you! — there came a montage of all the people Dave had helped so far, such as £1000 to an internet business, a load of money to help a down-on-his-luck busker and £1700 to help a boat-fitter in need. Not to mention £200 so a boy called Charlie could have some decent Christmas presents. Everyone go Ahhh now.
Thing was…it soon became clear that Dave’s generosity wasn’t just impressive, it was also verging on disturbing. So far, Bank Of Dave had given out £25,000 per week and according to Dave’s colleague – another, more numerically-minded Dave who was clearly vital for keeping this on track – this was cause for concern. Alarm, actually. Not that Dave gave even the slightest of shits, for he had bigger stuff to worry about.
Like those arses at the FSA (Financial Services Authority). It was bad enough that they were being total bastards, but aside from that, they’d refused to discuss the possibility of a deposit license with Dave face-to-face. In other words, Dave was convinced they were doing everything they could to stand in his way, and to be honest, it sounded about right.
By this point, anyone else bar Lance Armstrong would probably have just given up (thinking about it, it’s a good thing Dave hadn’t got into road cycling…). Not so with Fishwick. Instead, hot on the heels of going to see his local MP, Dave quickly devised a plan B. In the mean-time, while Dave and his solicitor started working out a way to take deposits without the FSA wetting their pants in the process, we were treated to the next best thing: Dave doing what he does best, doing banking his way, live and in person…
Meet Tariq: a local food producer who can’t borrow money from the banks for reasons unclarified. This might be an issue to most bankers, but not to Dave. Instead, he hears the bloke out. How his business needs £5,000 in order to buy a food-forming machine so that he can expand his handmade Halal products and grow.
But there’s a problem…Tariq’s religion means he can’t pay interest on his money. Dave doesn’t see this as a problem, while his colleague does. In fact, he says Dave can’t do it. And you know what Dave says to that…
While all this was going on, applications for loans were going through the roof. Dave then started handing out money to literally anyone who needed it, including the local stables and even the man who runs the car park out the back of the office. Oh, and a large outdoor adventure company. All with his own personal money. Just because he’s good like that.
There’s so much more to say about this section of the show, but the main thing to know is that it’s really hard to take a man seriously when there are two clocks behind him marked New York and Burnley.
PART 2: DAVE DOES AMERICA
Love America? You haven’t seen anything until you see a short cocky millionaire from Burnley wandering the streets in fish-out-of-water scenes reminiscent of Crocodile Dundee, telling the banks he’s “fucking coming to get you!” If the sight of Dave in a convertible Cadillac shouting at Americans in northern English didn’t make you smile, what was coming next must have.
The reason Dave was in the US, of course, was simple. Simple to him: find support and do a bit of casino banking – the very thing that had screwed the UK over so badly. Only Dave’s vision was different and more solid. His concept was to gamble with intelligence, and see if he could make good interest on $100,000. In other words, make all the other banks look really stupid by playing them at their own game (and succeed).
There’s too much to say here, but the main thing to know is that Dave did alright. 3.2% alright, in fact. Chuffed to bits with his winning the stock market, Dave made his way back to Burnley, “the greatest city in the world,” where everything we had seen so far was now made to look pretty ridiculous, as Dave struggled to get into the world’s smallest safe…and finally found the key to it behind a cheeryade bottle, almost in plain sight…
Daft, but I’d still rather trust my money with Dave than Barclays.
By now, it was becoming clear just how much of a monster Dave and his enormous appetite for risk and generosity had created. With the local economy booming and Steve Punchard’s Tropical Fish Store full with fish lovers for the first time in years – black-tip reef sharks being the main attraction here – the legend was growing by the second. Not only that, but Dave had grown more adept at wheeling and dealing than Del Boy, if that’s possible. Having just bought a stupidly cheap house which he’d use to rent out and fund the shop’s overheads, Dave then dived head-first into the gold business. The aim being to salvage enough gold jewellery from Roy down the road to create his own precious gold bullion bar.
No, I’m not making this up.
By this point in the show, it was time for the arrival of a new man with a crazy name: enter Keith Arrowsmith, Dave’s solicitor and vital man-with-sensible-head-on-his-shoulders. Crazy as Keith’s name was, his idea – the plan b I mentioned earlier – was surprisingly simple. The concept being for Dave to handle money on behalf of his savers, and then lend this out to people needing loans, getting around all the FSA licensing problems.
As the clock struck 9:27pm, a momentous occasion arrived. Balls to normal banking, with the new process in place, Dave was free to take on the world on his terms! On local radio Dave goes, to spread the word. Within minutes he’s offering free gifts, £25 to the first 10 people to arrive at the shop the following day, and lots more (like a free ticket to the upcoming Burnley v Westham game…for what it’s worth). I couldn’t keep up with taking my notes by 9:35. By the end of the day Dave hadn’t just put smiles on faces, he’d taken in over £61,000!
Then came an announcement: bollocks to staying in Burnley and just doing Las Vegas, it was time for serious business. Dave heads for his mini-bus headquarters and orders a mini-bus to be built. This banking show is going on the road and taking its message with it.
It was now that I started to get really excited. Could the rest of England handle Dave’s enthusiasm? What would happen when he met a gang of pessimistic southerners? But first, more important things…like how the fuck the mini-bus was ever going to get to the rest of Great Britain…Dave’s vehicle of choice was hardly built for the job, was the thing. For one it was 14-years-old, and for another even Dave admitted it was a piece of shit.
Despite all this, I couldn’t help but feel that Dave was at the helm of a banking revolution. And when Alistair Campbell dropped by to view a video Dave had of his MP speaking about Bank Of Dave in the House of Commons, it was confirmed: it was a matter of time until the FSA had to give in and play ball. Or at least until their members couldn’t leave the house without eggs being chucked at them.
Is Dave at the start of a revolution? I seriously am starting to think so…
Now with a somehow functional elderly mini-bus, plus Bob the driver, Dave sets off on his quest to speak to normal people about what matters most. Soon he’s in Wales, where locals are confirming the beliefs of the rest of the nation: mainly that all bankers who have stolen money should be put in prison, but other stuff, too. This was good TV enough – Dave with a megaphone, shouting at people like some kind of demented peter-pan school-boy – but then things hit an all-time high when Dave and Bob arrived (eventually) in London. Right outside the Bank of England, to be specific. Where it all began and where Dave wanted it ended. You could practically hear everyone watching the show cheering at this point, with Dave leading proceedings, yelling “Let’s make Britain great again!”
After an incident with the police – Bob the driver looking with confusion at the high-viz jackets as Dave tried to distract their attention from the mini-bus’s balding tires – Dave is like a man possessed. Somehow he manages to get Secretary of State Vince Cable inside the van and by the end of a short conversation, he’s agreeing to contact the FSA and see what he can do. “Now we pick a bigger fight,” says Dave, high on pissing people off. What comes next is a fitting end to a memorable two-part series, as the day of reckoning arrives and, 6 months after the idea’s conception, it’s time to see if the bank has made a profit.
Everyone told Dave it was impossible, yet there he is, this bloke from Burnley, sitting on £9,000 worth of profit and absolutely zero debt. Better than that, Bank Of Dave had lended money to 62 people, Dave’d made a gold bar worth £15,000 out of cheap tat lying around his mate Roy’s house, and Steve Punchard’s Tropical Fish Store was booming like never before. With the local community better off and morale in one of Great Britain’s most ill-reputed city’s at an all-time-high, Dave was rightly off-his-tits with the satisfaction and excitement of it all, and I was right there with him, bloody chuffed to bits!
If the first 55 minutes of episode 2 were compelling and non-stop, the final 5 minutes were the perfect peaceful antidote, as Dave went about giving money to all the local charities, just like he’d always said he would. I had a tear in my eye as Dave handed numerous cheques for £2,000 over. I also had my faith in banking back: did someone say Dave Fishwick for Prime Minister? Right now it’s looking like a very good idea.