The business fortunes of a father and son from Galashiels have been transformed by their appearance in a hit reality TV series.
Raymond and Grant Hamilton have emerged as the unlikely stars of Shipping Wars, which is in the middle of a four-week run on Channel 4.
Based on a successful US format, the daytime show invites truckers and hauliers to bid for delivery jobs, and assesses them on customer satisfaction and how much profit they make.
The Borders duo made an unpromising start last week when they agreed to convey 300,000 live bees in their van for just £100. And this week’s transportation of an expensive canoe from Liverpool to St Andrews has not been without incident.
But the pair’s jokey antics and bickering banter have won them an army of fans on social media and helped raise audience figures for the series, described as “reality TV for the EBay generation”.
The pair were selected by production company Megolamedia in 2013 after Grant, 23, who has worked for his dad since leaving school, placed an ad on website Gumtree.
“We were dealing in second-hand goods, but struggling a bit and we thought we’d try to make more use of our old van by offering a delivery service,” recalled Grant.
After an interview on Skype and a dry run with the cameras, Raymond and Grant were selected to appear in a pilot, which screened in January last year, paving the way for the full series – filmed over six months last – to be commissioned.
Since the show began its run last Monday week, the pair, dubbed the “Wheeler Dealers”, have enjoyed being local celebrities.
“It’s crazy,” said Raymond, 57. “We’ve been getting stopped on the street and asked to appear in selfies by complete strangers.”
After filming ended in September, the Hamiltons invested the fee they earned from the show in a new retail and online business – LoveMyBeds.com – selling discounted beds from a shop in Channel Street, Galashiels.
And, having being forced to hire a van and trailer for the show, they have now expanded their delivery fleet with two new Mercedes vehicles.
“We went into the show with no great expectations and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, and I think that has struck a chord with viewers,” said Raymond. “It’s also helped raise the profile of our business, so it’s been a win-win deal really.”