TV review: Bank of Dave
You can bank on Dave – especially if you make a good fish pie
If there is any justice in the world, a star is born. His name is Dave Fishwick. He is a self-made millionaire (supplying minibuses) from Burnley. Neither of these facts begins to convey the man. He's a quart of fizzing energy crammed into a pint pot. He is a study in entrepreneurial spirit and the quintessence of northern-ness in one. Imagine the naivete of George Formby combined with the steely inner resolve of an Alan Sugar before he became, well, quite so risibly Alan Sugarish, and you will still be nowhere near capturing the brilliance of Dave.
In Bank of Dave (Channel 4) we begin with Dave's frustration at the big banks' unwillingness to lend money to businesses – an unwillingness that nearly sank his own company until he started lending to minibus-hiring clients himself. So he decides to open a local bank for local people. His first call is to directory enquiries to get Mervyn King's number. In other programmes, presented by other people, you might assume the directorial hand at work. Not with Dave. He lives at the very borderline between simpleton and genius. "Head of t'Bank of England," he says to whichever directory enquiry employee was gifted his call by whichever benevolent deity is in charge of workplace anecdote distribution. "Thanks … Threadneedle Street? And that's London?"
Reasoning that "it's easier to apologise after doing something than gerrin' permission to do it first," Dave leases premises, fits them out (including two clocks on the wall. "New York" it says under one, "Burnley" under t'other), hires an assistant and an accounts man and books Ted Robbins ("all the way from Benidoooorm!") for the launch. Two weeks later, their lending licence comes through. Dave is delighted. "Time for a banana, I think, to celebrate!" He begins to peel exuberantly. "I were saving this for later!" Happy is the man with millions in the bank who can still take pleasure in an early snack.
He starts lending to folk – the old-fashioned way. He looks them in the eye, takes their measure and their hands, and tells them: "I won't do a credit check – I know you'll pay me back." He tests the food in a cafe whose owners need £8,500 to upgrade their kitchen to cater for the new estate that's going up nearby. On the strength of their fish pie and his character assessment, Dave grants it immediately. It's probably among the soundest financial decisions anyone's made in the past four years.
What he can't do, as serried ranks of solicitors and accountants tell him with increasing anxiety, is take deposits or call himself a bank without an FSA deposit licence: "But I want to call it 'Bank of Dave'," says Dave. "But you can't," say various worried-looking men in suits. "You'll go to prison if you do." "But I really want to call it Bank of Dave," says Dave. "But you can't," say they. It goes on like this for quite some time. It's the irrepressible meeting the immovable object. Eventually Dave unveils a sign that reads "Bank on Dave", which is a triumph of style without the substantive threat of incarceration.
But he still has his eye on the prize. He can't, after all, keep lending his own money to people without being allowed to take deposits from others. His battle continues next week. "The banks are scared of me doing this. One way or another we're going to manage it … I'm not fucking shutting. Bollocks to 'em." I don't know about you, but my money's on Dave.