Every now and then a show pops up on TV that drags me in and refuses to let go, no matter how much I'd like it to. And before I know it I don't want it to let go at all... In fact, I start digging out the repeats; re-watching on iPlayer and counting down the hours until the next episode. Michel Roux's Service is a prime example of just such a show.
Take eight youngsters who have little or no front-of-house experience and give them to Michel Roux Jr and his No1 front-of-house man Fred for a few weeks to train up. The result: a polished team of professional service staff, no doubt. But that's not what's caught me about this series, no. What's caught me is the sheer strength of character that each and every participant has. Unemployed ASBO-child, teen-mum, Uni drop-out; it's a list of contenders that would make even the most passive Daily Mail reader spit their swan across the room - "...And they're handling OUR food, you say? Goodness, Charles, let's eat elsewhere!" You can hear them now! But oh, what's this? All of the trainees on this show go far in blasting open the negative stereotypes we all seem to have in our heads? They're all really likeable and charming? Even the annoying one and that girl with the short hair?!
Well... Yes. Each and every trainee that Roux Jr has taken time to train would be on my list of people to invite to my New Year's Eve party (that it, unless they were already there, handing out the champers!). So far (and it's pretty far) in the series my favourites are Ashley and Nikita. Two people who I never thought I'd like when I first started watching. In much the same way that Jamie Oliver showed the "naughty kids" staffing his Fifteen restaurant to be just nice, normal people in his similar "take-some-everyday-youngsters-and-make-them-good-a-thon" some years ago, Michel Roux's Service is about the people, not what they're doing, as such.
If this is your sort of thing - and it's a very popular type of show these days - then you should already be watching; no doubt you are. But if you wouldn't usually tune in to something like this then I urge you, please, on Wednesday, give it a go. These kids are awesome! They're lovely! Some of them are even on Twitter, so how can they be anything but great?! If you've missed the series so far then please, please catch up on iPlayer now, you won't be disappointed! (I don't know! The amount of traffic I send iPlayer's way... I should be on commission!) - And one more thing, a question: Who does Fred the Waiter remind me of?! I've been trying to work this out since the bloody show started!