Andrew Wilson, the former SNP MSP, has flitted to a seriously big job with Santander UK. He has departed Charlotte Street Partners, the Edinburgh-based public affairs agency he set up with Malcolm Robertson and the late Sir Angus Grossart, and will sit on the board of the bank’s UK executive. Andrew was communications supremo at Royal Bank of Scotland when there was a special relationship with Banco Santander, and its Spanish boss Emilio Botín, who sat on the RBS board. 

So, it will be familiar territory for the comms guru, working with Emilio’s daughter, Dame Ana Botín, now chair of Santander. It’s a fabulous job opportunity for the former SNP cabinet minister and strategist, who also chaired Scotland’s Sustainable Growth Commission in 2018. 

But please, Andrew, as Director of Corporate Communication and Responsible Banking, can you make a quick and decisive change? Kill off those awful television adverts featuring the unbearable Ant and Dec. That whole Bank of Ant and Dec riff was moderately amusing at first hearing. But the advertising bods have persisted with even more juvenile nonsense. 

Now it’s way beyond a joke. It’s also costing a packet. For two guys who are already rich beyond their wildest talent. Maybe we should start a hashtag? #DitchthemnowAndrew 

Speaking of jokers who are promoting our illustrious banking industry … yes, there are a lot of them still sitting on various boards, but we won’t go there.

Comic relief

Susan Calman, the bouncy former star of Strictly, and a qualified lawyer, remains the human face of the Bank of Scotland. A relief from James Cosmo, who always looked so unkempt and threatening. We’re not sure if the strapline: ‘By Your Side for 300 Years’ is one of Susan’s gags but let’s leave that aside.

Watching Susan on her various travel show exploits, she comes over as warm, interesting and a real sport, especially when playing large brick Jenga on a posh Arctic cruise. While these early ‘We Scots Do Things Differently’ ads for Bank of Scotland were toe-curlingly corny, her travel experiences have had a mellowing impact. It’s too early to say she’s a National Treasure but those banking ads don’t seem to rankle quite as much when she appears.

A soupçon of sensibility

But really, why can’t we return to those olden black and white TV days when the celebrities told us like it is. Those of a certain age will remember when Baxters of Fochabers used the mellifluous and booming tones of James Robertson Justice, the actor and broadcaster who died way back in July 1975. He was the first voice on Scottish Television and served as Rector of Edinburgh University. 

Fresh from national celebrity in the Doctor in the House comedy films, he appeared on some memorable television adverts, filmed at his home in Spinningdale, on the Dornoch Firth. The Scots Know How to Keep Out the Cold – we eat our Royal Game soup, said the ads. That’s something to seriously consider if the tomato shortage means we can’t enjoy our favourite Cream of Tomato Soup.