WHAT makes the ideal Scotsman? BBC Scotland have been working hard to answer this question, with a new documentary exploring the notion, running later this month.

Yet, scalps must have been scratched to the point of inducing dandruff because how do we define “ideal”?

A generation ago, the ideal Scots man was someone who didn’t beat his wife to the point of bruising, surrendered a pay packet on a Friday and took the weans swimming once a month.

The ideal was someone who took a drink, but always managed to make his work on a Monday. He’d never go shopping, iron clothes or even buy clothes for himself but he’d shave on a Sunday and put on a collar and tie to go to the game on a Saturday.

There was a time when the ideal Scots man would have been summed up by the rugged charm and handsomeness of a Sean Connery. Yet, that idea must be redundant given his since-discovered misogyny. And if we once adored a Chic Murray jolliness in a man the notion of idealness surely exited our minds on discovery of alcohol dependency.

We certainly once valued the characteristic aggression. Indeed, the notion of the Sensitive Scot was an oxymoron. Scots men had to have Alex Ferguson aggression, the punch-in-the-face power of a Connolly gag, yet there are few of us who wanted to be them.

What of other registered heroes as role models? Jackie Stewart was a little too fond of Princess Anne to become an ideal man. And didn’t Billy Bremner miss that goal certainty from three inches in the ’74 World Cup in Germany?

The BBC’s notion of hiring TV cook Rachel McCormack to ask who is the ideal Scotsman, and what it means to be a man today, is a sound one, a talker. A female presenter offers an outside perspective. (Yet, can you imagine the outcry if a man asked what makes the ideal Scotswoman?) But what form does the ideal man of today take?

If we have moved past the notion of the tough, non-tactile, uncompromising, emotionally-stunted creatures who were many of our fathers, is the young Scottish man now being shepherded into the corral of collective consciousness, someone who is intensely self-aware, a skin-soft, skinny-jeans wearing, bag-for-life carrier? Is he a two-cheek kisser who turns the other cheek when it comes to aggression?

And who can we look to in the form of role models? It’s hard to find an ideal example. We celebrate the obvious talents of Frankie Boyle and Kevin Bridges, but have they woken up to woke enough?

Limmy and working class warrior Darren McGarvey suggest an acute modern-man awareness of gender, race, class equality, which is perfectly right but both are happy to troll others through the head from the safety of a bedroom laptop.

But if we’re mixed up in the notion of the ideal, we have a defence in our fictional representational form. Sir Walter Scott led the world into the thick Scotch mist when he dressed his leading men in tartan and kilts, spawning later the likes of stage acts such as Harry Lauder and Kenneth McKellar and Ian Blackford (who brilliantly, unapologetically managed to use the phrase ‘The people of Scotland’ nine times in a four minute BBC interview last week).

Irvine Welsh has since turned us into bandits, although there was a truth to his characters, especially his Begbie. And certainly, there was also a real truth to Rab C. Nesbitt. Indeed, Nesbitt was a partial representation of the ideal Scottish man; his love for his wife was implicit, he had an acute sense of fairness and he railed against injustice. Rab was also accepting of all creeds and gender identity. (Evidenced in one episode with his affection for David Tennant’s trans character.) However being a reprobate perhaps disqualified him for role model status.

Thankfully, fiction has also adjusted the perception of Scottish man. Bill Forsyth brought us Gregory and a sensitive, aware young man. And in the Eighties, Postcard Records brought us bands who wrote about feelings and confusion. And now we clever writers and performers such as Johnny McKnight and Alan Cumming don’t come close to the ideal? Yet, David Tennant seems to be the sort of man we should perhaps aspire to become. And Andy Murray certainly has a look in. Grado has an openness and a liking for lycra that can’t be dismissed and who can say Lewis Capaldi should be ignored?

The reality however is the question can never be answered because Scotland is evolving, and as such the outline of the ideal is too. But part of that evolution means working out who we’re supposed to become.