OK, be honest, did you really believe the guy who played Pablo Escobar in Narcos? Much as the script writers tried to petrify us with his ruthless, psychopathic brutality there was something about his gormless, hang-dog look and the luxuriant droop moustache that made Escobar look like a barman from Dundonald rather than the sadistic overlord of the Colombian drug cartels.

My apologies to the Brazilian actor Wagner Moura, who attracted international acclaim and put on 40 pounds to play the role but never quite cut it for me. Some of his henchmen would have put the shits up Begbie but as for the big man himself, I’ve been more scared walking into a chip shop in Dalmellington. Casting is everything when it comes to drama and Maura looked too much like a well-fed character actor than a ruthless villain.

So why did I not say that at the time? Simple. Narcos was on telly at the height of the Netflix early-adopter boom, when you felt bullied into loving everything the American broadcaster did.

There was a time when we were all smitten and not a negative word could be said about the new subscription service. On the surface at least, it was the answer to every television fantasy – drama stacked high and handsome. Many a genial party has been spoiled by Netflix bores banging on about binge viewing, box sets and their plans for the weekend.

I waste an hour everyday trying to convince people not to abandon the BBC licence fee, even when it is clear they are motivated by political disenchantment and civil disobedience. I rarely hear of anyone making a stance about ending their Netflix subscription. If it happens at all it’s usually because of home economics rather than matters of principle.

Like the Amazon-owned LOVEFiLM, Netflix was once a company that posted DVDs to subscribers, a clunky system of distribution that has been disrupted by web streaming, and now sounds like an industry from the dark ages. Superfast broadband transformed the business and briefly lightened our life.

Then the sheen wore off and the debate shifted not to the programmes themselves but to the power behind the throne. Like so many global media brands, Netflix is an American corporation and, like Google and Amazon before it, there is no settled logic to its business activities.

The UK division of Netflix, which declared revenues of £23.9 million in the last financial year, has a paltry staff of only 14 people, none of whom is registered in Scotland for tax purposes. This matters. Like other US tech giants, Netflix has housed its European business in Amsterdam and the vast majority of subscriptions are booked through Amsterdam, so tax revenues are devilishly difficult to estimate and collect.

Netflix’s defence in the face of increased criticism of its tax affairs is that it delivers “hundreds of millions of pounds” into Britain’s creative economy. This is a wand that’s waved far too often by the film and television industry. Think of a number, double it and walk away without turning back.

The value of film and television production to Scotland is on a steep upward curve and almost doubled in the space of four years, breaking the £50m barrier for the first time ever. Obvious contributors have been the movie Trainspotting 2 and the mega drama series Outlander.

Attracting films is an important part of inward investment and the city of Glasgow, with its dedicated Film Office, has done far better than most British cities to secure high-value incoming productions. This growth is a welcome addition to Scotland’s growing media reputation, but the time has come to raise entirely new questions about what companies such as Netflix can deliver, and maybe only independence can unlock the real opportunities.

For decades now, Scotland’s creative economy has been structured on the two great pillars of economic development: inward investment and indigenous growth. Put crudely that means films and television shows that are shot here and, alongside that, the business growth of indigenous companies that are based here.

I have always been a cheerleader for the former but if truth be told, I care more deeply about the latter. Much as there is a visceral thrill in spotting Sean Penn in the Blue Lagoon I am more interested in Scottish companies winning commissions than American movies transforming Glasgow into the streets of Philadelphia.

There is a very simple answer. We need both. But we also need to power ahead to the next logical stage in accruing value – understanding the creative labour market and measuring where creative talent is based for tax purposes. A major question facing film and television production in the era of Netflix is how we can grow our tax revenues to pay for more essential services.

It is extraordinary that for all its size, impact and current hipness, Netflix only has 14 people paying tax in the UK, none of whom is resident is Scotland. Most of the big bucks are charged though Amsterdam, and for other global businesses, through Dublin. Brexit will only exaggerate that pattern.

For all Scotland’s skills in financial services, we are not offering a distinctive enough tax incentive for creative people to base themselves here. Compared with Dublin we lag far behind, and arguably the infamous Belfast backstop may make us even less competitive.

All of which brings me back full-circle to the current system. If you have even a passing interest in media production in Scotland you will have heard the term “lift and shift”, industry speak for shows which are relocated to Scotland to help broadcasters meet their obligations for nations and regions spend.

I have no great love for the idea for three reasons. Firstly, it raises broadcaster spend artificially, appearing to reward Scotland. While there are obvious benefits in new talent development, most key staff, including executive producers and on-screen talent, are flown up from London and return home again. Neither their high salaries nor their income tax stays in Scotland.

Secondly, the targets set by Ofcom were intended to stimulate more commissions in Scotland and give a degree of market advantage to indigenous companies in a system that is still overwhelmingly London-based and stacked high against Scottish producers.

Thirdly, the shows that are moved tend to be daytime standards that are towards the end of their lifespan and so less loved by London commissioners, and most likely to be decommissioned when tough decisions get made.

The next phase of Scotland’s creative industries cannot continue to be so cap-in-hand. We need a full-scale realignment of the value chain, bringing more decision-making to Scotland, and ensuring that a greater proportion of the real value of media production remains here. That aspiration can take many forms – a greater share of intellectual property rights or a demand that key roles are based here in Scotland.

The third and as yet under-realised requirement is that wherever possible talent and companies should be based in Scotland for tax purposes. In the immediate years to come that will mean income tax but in an independent Scotland rates, VAT and corporation tax too.

The Scottish independent production companies that aspire to make the next generation of hit shows for Netflix, for BBC Worldwide, or indeed any number of UK broadcasters, must fight against the voodoo economics of the current system and demand more from the BBC, from the new Channel 4 commissioning hub and from the staff of Netflix, wherever they may be.

The final book in Stuart Cosgrove’s Soul Trilogy, ‘Harlem 69: the Future of Soul’ is published by Polygon.