The unexpected success of the Stocks , that quaint, almost primitive medieval instrument of ritual degradation that was erected recently in Newcastle in an experimental trial (now there's a pun, if you like one!) following intense pressure on HM Government to "let the people decide what form of punishment is most appropriate and most in the public interest," has now provoked intense speculation in the media.
BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, and Sky are now caught up in a bidding war for sole rights, but no-one is in much doubt that Rupert Murdoch will prove to have the deepest pockets. (They are in fact totally bottomless, which gives rise to speculation that Mr Murdoch may well be the biggest w*nker on the planet. Ed). No doubt at a later date Channel "Dave" will pay handsomely to air the whole shebang as re-runs. Unless of course somebody starts up Channel "Lightly Sauteed Shoe Leather" in the meanwhile.
Rumoured to be called "Today in the Stocks," a half-hour slot will be found after the nine o'clock watershed and will carry an ominous health warning for TV viewers which will no doubt encourage an awful lot more people to tune in: "The material you are about to watch may contain verbal abuse and scenes of a disturbing nature. Copious loss of blood, broken bones, and even death may well occur. However, if the person condemned to the Stocks is only a celebrity, it may well prove to be nothing more than a lot of harmless family fun."
After the unquestionable success of the original trial which featured Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, and the follow-up which unfortunately (or should that be happily?) resulted in the death of Tony Blair, the Great British public are to be invited to vote for their favourite victims. Absolutely no-one - even Royals - will be able to claim immunity, and the participants' choice of missile will be entirely at their own discretion. Lucky participants will be selected at random from the National Census Register and no age group will be excluded although parental controls will of course be encouraged.
Here then is an educated quess at some of the more (un)popular potential guinea pigs - predictably enough either villains, or celebrities:
Paul Gadd alias "Gary Glitter?" You bet. Ian Huntley? No doubt there. Jordan? Could be a great laugh. Abu Hamza al-Masri? Bring it on! "Madonna? It's a YES for her. It might just bring her down to earth. Peter Mandleson? A definite YES. Sir Cliff Richard? Oh dear...... but definitely YES. Ian Brady? NO. Not after all the time he's spent banged-up. Ben Fogle or Kate Humble? NO NO and again NO. They're both much too nice to be treated like that. However Bill Oddie would be a suitable alternative. Simon Cowell? Now there's someone who would really hate it...
The problem is there are simply too many potential occupiers of the Stocks to list here. I mean, who knows? What if other nations wanted to be included? Outside the EU, that is. (Brussels would never ever sanction such a barbaric proposal...............unless of course the backhanders were big enough).
However, one thing is certain. "Today in the Stocks" could well prove to be the television spectacular the media moguls have always dreamed of. Advertisers will have to outbid one another for five second slots, (unless of course Auntie wins the rights), and from week to week there will be adrenaline-fuelled anticipation and feverish speculation as to who exactly will be the featured victim on next week's show.
After an initial six-week run it will no doubt be possible to include two victims per show, and then four, or even six, and with clever enough editing the show could eventually consist of nothing more than one minute total humiliation video clips, and any deaths - accidental or otherwise - could always be edited out if they were considered to be in sufficiently bad taste.
In the end of course the world of television as we currently know it will never be the same again, and no-one I've talked to so far considers "Shares" to be an idea that could ever get off the ground or deliver the same punch to the midriff as "Stocks."