Picture the scene. A young and eager producer wanders into the office of Mr Important TV Mogul, sits himself down on the couch and says: “Listen, I’ve got a great idea for a new show”.
Mr Mogul, always eager to brighten up his prime-time schedules with the sort of fresh and innovative offering which will encourage advertisers to interrupt it with lucrative commercials every four and a half minutes, leans forward, raises an eyebrow, and replies: “Go on...”
So the excited producer pours out his heart, unleashing the secret of his revolution: “We take a camera into a fast-food takeaway, leave it switched on in the corner for three weeks, then come back, pick it up, and broadcast the results...”
And that’s it? Really? You can just imagine the schedulers thinking they’ve never heard anything so utterly pointless and overhyped.
So hats off to the lateral thinkers at Channel Four who decided, quite possibly against their better judgement, to run with the idea, and cook it up into something called The Fried Chicken Shop.
It was a bargain bucket of a production; the producers did just what they promised, and simply set up cameras in a London takeaway, filmed the comings and goings 24/7, and edited it down into a box of family-sized nuggets.
The hilariously off-the-wall customers, talking about nonsensical nothingness, became stars. Brilliantly simple, completely bonkers, and very little to do with chicken.
On Monday, the third and final part of its comeback series will be screened. It got an inevitable second helping after the soaraway success of that original one-off episode in February, which had tongues wagging for all manner of reasons.
Some people hated it, others revelled in its tackiness. But everyone had an opinion, and that’s what good fly-on-the-wall shows are all about.
Mark my words, this won’t be the last we’ve seen of the Roosters Spot takeaway in Clapham, because it has almost unwittingly become the home of fast food’s answer to the X Factor auditions. The freaks, the try-hards, and the occasional pocket of talent just waiting for life to give them a break.
Let us hope it doesn’t lose all of its innocence and that it doesn’t, like Big Brother, simply become a Mecca for exhibitionists seeking their 15 minutes of fame, when in reality they have nothing sincere, or remotely original, to say.
I fear that could be a tough ask. So let us bask in the genuinely bizarre while we can.
The Fried Chicken Shop might not threaten the list of top TV moments, and you can say what you like about its puerile, mindless content, but it certainly makes for hilarious car-crash viewing.
Of course, this is by no means the only daft documentary idea to hit the mark. I’ve recently become strangely hooked (geddit?) on the fascinating Fish Tank Kings on the National Geographic channel. That’s right, an entire series about folk who make glass tanks, fill them with bits of dead plants and gravel, and get incredibly excited.
Now don’t mock, until you’ve witnessed the amazing creation they built into the wall of a Miami baseball stadium.
Hand on heart, I can honestly say it’s the best series about tailor-made, reinforced convex fish tanks I’ve ever seen . . .