Over the years, Scottish TV audiences have spent Hogmanay in the company of Andy Stewart and the White Heather Club, Rab C. Nesbitt and Still Game old boys Jack and Victor.
This year, it’s the turn of a man who stands more than 7ft tall in his bare feet; uses a bullet to part his hair and a blowtorch to shave, who will help see out the old year.
It’s larger-than-life cowboy Desperate Dan from Cactusville – a town that looks remarkably like a mixture of Texas and Dundee.
Dan, who is so strong he can lift a cow with one hand, lasso the moon and sleeps on a pillow reinforced with building rubble, takes centre stage in the show Just Dandy.
It’s hosted by Scottish comedian Ford Kiernan who romps through 75 years of biffs, bangs and banana skins that make up the madcap history of The Dandy comic.
Ford, who turned 50 this year, begins the homage to the D.C. Thomson comic by playing with an object that will bring memories flooding back to generations of Dandy readers – a thunder bang.
This cardboard “banger” was one of a number of promotional gifts given away with the comic and was used by thousands of youngsters to give others a fright.
“I was a Dandy fan myself – I used to go to the local shop every Thursday with my pal Alastair who got the Beano, so we’d read them, then swap comics,” said Ford.
“I was about five when I first read old ones kicking about and about eight when I started buying The Dandy myself.
“When I went to a meeting with D.C. Thomson and programme-makers Caledonian Productions, I was asked what my big memory of The Dandy was and I said getting the free thunder bang.
“I suggested it might be a good idea that everybody we interview gets a wee shot of one.”
New versions of the old favourite toy were made and in the show, you can see the delight at being given the chance to play with this simple toy again cross the faces of celebrity fans including Michael Palin, comedian Frank Skinner and actor Brian Cox.
A clearly delighted Michael said: “You don’t get one of those with the Times Literary Supplement, do you?”
“What people don’t remember is that the original thunder bang was only good for eight goes,” said Ford.
“But you weren’t too upset when it wore out as you’d look forward to the next free gift – I believe one time they gave away a plastic potato gun.”
Award-winning comedian Ford interviewed numerous Dandy fans including comedian Sanjeev Kohli, actor Bill Paterson, writer Alan Bissett, veteran musicians Jimmie Macgregor and Tom Alexander, indie rocker Kyle Falconer, from The View, and four-times Oscar-winning Wallace and Gromit animator Nick Park, along with writers and artists who helped produce the world’s longest-running weekly comic.
Many credit the comic for shaping their own sense of humour and cite Desperate Dan, the comic’s biggest star, as a hero.
“Dan was a man’s man,” said Ford.
“In the issues published during World War II, Dan was in all three services: The Army, Navy and Air Force, and was the first American to join the Allies’ war effort.
“He shot Nazis left, right and centre; smoked garbage cans through a drainpipe and ate massive cow pies with the horns still in.
“However, my favourite character was Winker Watson because he was a crafty geezer.
“I discovered, when making the documentary, that he was created because working classes really wanted to know what happened in public schools.
“I was also a fan of Beryl the Peril – I used to think of her as a female version of Oor Wullie, and was lucky enough to meet the woman who she was based on, the daughter of cartoonist David Law.”
The Dandy and its slightly younger stablemate The Beano, have had people chuckling for three-quarters of a century, while the former has featured some of the most memorable cartoon characters of all times – Korky the Cat, Beryl the Peril, Tin Lizzie, Keyhole Kate, Winker Watson and Bananaman.
Initially, the characters featured lots of humorous slapstick and rather rough characters.
It wasn’t unusual to have a story finish with someone getting a stick in their rear – although bullies never prospered.
Youngsters couldn’t get enough of it.
“During a visit to the Dundee office I was shown a ledger, a mighty tomb that records every copy sold, and where,” said Ford.
“There’s one particular day in 1953 when they sold more than 2million copies.
“That’s awesome – the ledger will end up in a museum one day,” said Ford, who will spend Hogmanay at home watching the show with his teenage children.
During the programme, he gets turned into a cartoon himself, playing a reporter trying to interview Desperate Dan.
“I was chuffed with that, although my wife says if I ever do became a cartoon she’ll take great pleasure in rubbing me out.”
Just Dandy, a Caledonian Production for BBC Scotland, will be screened on BBC1 at 9pm on Monday, December 31.