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If someone tells you to close your eyes and open your mouth while they feed you a slice of the most delicious chocolate gateau you'll ever encounter, only to spoon a pawful of dead mashed mouldering cat on to your tongue, chances are you'll vomit.You'd vomit anyway, of course, but the contrast between what you were expecting and what you actually got would make you spew hard enough to bring up your own kidneys. Over the past few weeks, several people have emailed imploring me to watch Take Me Out (Sat, 8pm, ITV1), ITV's new Saturday night dating show.
I rubbed my hands together, like a sadist approaching a car crash, settled in to my sofa and watched an episode. On its own terms, as a raucous chunk of meaningless idiocy, it succeeds.
If you're not familiar with the format (maybe you had harpsichord practice last Saturday), it's a studio-based cross between Blind Date and Boots' mortifying Here Come The Girls campaign.
I'm willing to bet Here Come The Girls was a working title.
It's hosted by Paddy Mc Guinness, who arrives on the studio floor by descending down a huge glittery pipe, like a showbiz turd being flushed into the nation's lap. The girls line up behind a row of illuminated podiums, and the first of the men arrives, sliding down the same pipe Paddy used earlier (if you'll pardon the expression).
He introduces 30 women – yes, 30 – who march in jiggling their tits and blowing kisses at the camera, cackling and screaming and winking like a hen night filling the front row at a Wham! Said bloke must impress the women by speaking, dancing, performing party tricks, and so on, like a jester desperately trying to stave off his own execution at the hands of a capricious female emperor.
If he does a back-flip and six of the girls didn't like the way his buttocks shook as he landed, they switch their podium lights off, thereby whittling down his selection of available mates, and by extension, the gene pool. Not literally, as a format point, but in the moment where each man first slithers down the tube and some of the girls immediately turn their lights off based on appearances alone.
Paddy skitters around asking what's turned them off, and they dole out diplomatic answers about disliking the way he walked, or his shoes, rather than saying he's too ugly or fat or that his skin's the wrong colour for their tastes.At a push, they'll gently mock someone's height, but that's about it. If they were hooked up to brainwave-reading machines, the outcome might be a little more brutal and a lot more disturbing. Anyway, if our isolated male makes it through to the end with some girls still lit up, he picks one to take away with him.If the show was as hideous as I'd been led to believe, it'd culminate in a round where the newly paired-off couple rut like dogs in a Perspex dome while Mc Guinness films it on his mobile.Instead they somewhat meekly go for a drink, the results of which we get to see the following week. The clever bit – in format terms at any rate – is that the girls return each week, so we get to know their "characters". There are mouthy ones, stupid ones, sweet ones, gothic ones, young ones, old ones, and identical twin ones.All human life is here, apart from anyone you'd actually want to spend the rest of your days with. Or more than about an hour on a Saturday night, come to that.