This last episode of Scotland Decides before polling day opened with apocalyptic drumbeats. 'Only 36 hours to go,' said David Dimbleby as he paced beneath Edinburgh Castle.

BBC1's Scotland Decides series has been excellent, serving up a peppery variety of indyref programmes each week and, in this final show, they brought out the big guns: the venerable Dimbleby interviewing Gordon Brown and Alex Salmond against the rocky backdrop of the Castle.

Of course, throughout the campaign it has been Darling versus Salmond, but the poor darling has been shoved aside lately by Gordon Brown, the Iron Chancellor, the Clunking Fist. He was hauled in as the No campaign wobbled and their poll lead vanished. 'You've taken centre stage,' said Dimbleby, almost accusingly.

But Brown was no maverick and followed in the dainty footsteps of Darling by immediately launching into negativity and fear. He accused Salmond of being irresponsible by hinting an iScotland might not pay its debt. 'You're all doom and gloom' said Dimbleby. Brown countered this by insisting he's proud and patriotic and that his children go to school in Scotland and here he almost - almost - became glowing and lyrical but he soon lapsed back into the old scaremongering about pensions. 'This is not a party political broadcast' reminded Dimbleby.

He had been slapped down, clearly. Brown had initially called his interviewer 'David' but then resorted to 'Mr Dimbleby' for the remainder of the interview. Clearly 'Dimbles' (as I call him, with Paxman being my favourite) wasn't standing for any of his patronising tone.

For he was hugely patronising. 'I've got to keep reminding people…' he said, thereby patronising everyone. He obviously knows best! He knows all the right answers in this campaign and just has to 'keep reminding people'. This confirmed suspicions that the No campaign is pompous and arrogant. We know best! Stop getting ideas above your station! You're being swayed by romantic notions! Must we keep reminding you?

So it was strange to hear Brown occasionally drop that tone and switch to talk of pride and patriotism, but this kind of talk sat ill upon him, and things got worse when he invoked the war.

Of course we should all be proud of uniting to defeat the Nazis but, for God's sake, that was in the 40s. It's long gone and so are the other things which once gave us a common purpose: the Industrial Revolution, being the Workshop of the World, creating the NHS and the Welfare State but, Britain, what have you done for us lately? All the pride Gordon Brown was trying to dredge up was fused with the past.

Perhaps he heard the futility in his own argument as he started to go in circles, repeating the buzzwords of 'patriotic', proud', 'pensions' and 'pound.' By this point he was certainly taking the P.

Stopping his forced paeans to Britannia he changed tack and turned grim and serious - a stance which suits him far better - and tried to say the SNP were indifferent to social justice, with corporation tax being their main concern. How could he talk, with a straight face, of social justice when he was there to represent a Westminster which forces cancer patients into food banks?

With Alex Salmond, Dimbleby opened with a favourite term of the No campaign. He cheekily suggested Yes will have 'the best of both worlds' as they'll either get independence or Home Rule. Salmond ridiculed the idea that London would deliver anything resembling Home Rule. 'This is not devo max,' he said. 'It's not even devo plus. It's last minute desperate stuff…an insult to the intelligence of the people of Scotland.'

What of the rest of the UK, asked Dimbleby? It won't have the same clout, he said, if Scotland leaves. Salmond said that too many link greatness to the possession of military might. Rather, clout should be linked to a country's culture and its dealings with other nations. His argument was 'never mind greatness, what about usefulness?'

He praised England's cultural hinterland, implying it shouldn't need nukes to still be a world player. He's quite right but that is rather a rosy view of things. France surely has a greater cultural hinterland than the USA, but the Americans have more nukes and bombs and guns and planes, yee ha! Therefore, they have more clout. It's big boys who rule, not clever boys. Salmond's nice, but unrealistic, idea perhaps betrayed the romanticism for which the Yes campaign is often derided.

These interviews didn't reveal anything new except that Gordon's trews are too short. There were even periods of boredom in the programme but perhaps that's inevitable: with just two days to go no rabbits are being pulled out of hats and no-one is playing the maverick. It's all careful retreading, reinforcing and repeating.

Dimbleby just walked them through the arguments we've heard before and it's notable that the most watchable referendum programming recently has been that which is politician free, like the Mibbes Aye series or the Kevin Bridges show.