Ellen E Jones on TV: If true love is what you’re after, why not try your luck in prison?

Take Me Out, ITV; The Millionaire Matchmaker, 4MUSIC; Her Majesty’s Prison: Aylesbury, ITV; The Fried Chicken Shop: Life in a Day, channel 4

If your only option for finding your once-in-a-lifetime-forever-love was to appear on one of TV's popular dating shows, which one would you choose? (If you've already found your once-in-a-lifetime-forever-love, ask them to step out of the room a minute, and give you some space, while you give the matter serious consideration).

Are you a bubbly young lady with a strong regional accent? If so, you might fancy your chances on ITV's Take Me Out. There is no non-sequitur that host Paddy McGuinness will not happily molest into an innuendo, and no man that his 30-strong bank of Boots-ad ready contestants will not happily molest into a shadow of his former self. Except, apparently, Owen, a children's entertainer from Ascot who left without a date last episode, after failing to impress. Freud's great question about women remains unanswered, but we can rule out ventriloquist dummies.

If you're a man with "likes" that include large money piles and traditional gender roles, you'll probably make out better on The Millionaire Matchmaker, the second series of which has recently started on 4Music. LA-based, third generation matchmaker, Patti Stanger is maternal disapproval in a Cher wig and she'll whip you into marriageable shape faster than you can say, "Help! What happened to my testicles!" Once waxed, primped and primed with a knowledge of fine wines, you (a recently rich guy with zero social skills, à la this week's 45-year-old Canadian hotel executive, Bill) will be let loose in a room full of hot supermodel babes. What could possibly go wrong? Ask Bill.

Perhaps, after all, it's best to stick to a tried-and-tested forum for generating intimacy; a place where new couples have hour-upon-hour of quality time to get to know each other, and where all the men are single and emotionally vulnerable. We speak, of course, of prison.

At first look, Her Majesty's Prison: Aylesbury might not be overflowing with keepers, but 10 minutes in, two new arrivals are stamping each other's heads in, and it's clear the small-talk stage is over. The documentary makers want to know what the fighting's all about – "Saying hello to each other?" suggests a guard.

By the next commercial break, there's a crisis situation on C-wing. Three inmates have taken a fourth hostage, stripped him naked and begun to loudly announce their intention to rape him. Matters are only resolved when the cell's 40C temperature causes one of the hostage-takers to pass out. It's the kind of high drama scene any decent screenwriter would dismiss as sensational. The staff here, however, have seen it all before. One of them is even supressing a yawn.

We're used to deadpan voiceovers in trendy docs, but is it usual for all the participants to be quite so blasé? As the governor explains it, there is an optimistic philosophy underpinning Aylesbury's institutional zen: "People say they're gonna kill you, but are they actually gonna kill you?"

Well, yes, possibly, if the people in question include Caspean, a serial offender who repeatedly informs anyone who'll listen he'll commit murder one day. You'd tell him to give it a rest, except, obviously, you wouldn't want to run the risk of him murdering you. That said, if he's as knowledgeable on Argentinian Malbecs as he is on the recreational merits of anti-psychotics, he'd be great company on one of The Millionaire Matchmaker's wine-tasting dates. "I like the feeling of being twisted," he muses on his latest prescription, "but these make you feel like some mad, medicated person."

A more relatable combo-box of reality comes in the form of The Fried Chicken Shop, Channel 4's one-off fly-on-the-wall doc filmed over a week at a Clapham fast-food restaurant. All human life is here: shrieking school kids, hardworking immigrants, rudeboys with a keen sense of the absurd, a witch and even a social media strategist.

There is also regular Paul, a man with a love of gold chains to make Mr T look under-accessorised, and a natural flare for romantic gestures. As if dates at a chicken shop weren't bliss enough, he also serenades his fiancé with a free-form rap ("We are in a chicken shop/Just the two of us").

As Paul must regrettably be excluded from the running, on account of his engagement, the award for Rooster Spot's most eligible bachelor goes to Waqar, the Pakistani Jean-Paul Belmondo lookalike who works behind the counter. Waqar pays for his business management course by commuting one-and-a-half hours, to shifts that can last until 6am, for £6.95 an hour – and he still manages to be unfailingly cheerful with the customers. He is so Bambi-eyed, blameless and adorable, you begin to wonder if this chicken shop's fly-on-the-wall is actually a Disney-trained animator.

Is The Fried Chicken Shop the heavily manipulated product of a pinko TV producer with a political agenda? Or is it just that the reality of life in major British cities has more in common with Saturday night in a chicken shop than we're usually led to believe? Unless Channel 4 decides to commission a series, we may never know.

Ellen’s marmalade dropper

Switching on at Newsnight o'clock, only to be greeted by Professor Brian Cox. Had abrasive Paxo been substituted for the kindly professor? No, just the BBC on strike.

Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening to the evening
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
Arts and Entertainment
Arts and Entertainment
Hell, yeah: members of the 369th Infantry arrive back in New York
booksWorld War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel
Arts and Entertainment
Beer as folk: Vincent Franklin and Cyril Nri (centre) in ‘Cucumber’
tvReview: This slice of gay life in Manchester has universal appeal
Arts and Entertainment
‘A Day at the Races’ still stands up well today
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tvAnd its producers have already announced a second season...
Arts and Entertainment
Kraftwerk performing at the Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) museum in Berlin earlier this month
musicWhy a bunch of academics consider German electropoppers Kraftwerk worthy of their own symposium
Arts and Entertainment
Icelandic singer Bjork has been forced to release her album early after an online leak

Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth as Harry Hart in Kingsman: The Secret Service

Arts and Entertainment
Brian Blessed as King Lear in the Guildford Shakespeare Company's performance of the play

Arts and Entertainment
In the picture: Anthony LaPaglia and Martin Freeman in 'The Eichmann Show'

Arts and Entertainment
Anne Kirkbride and Bill Roache as Deirdre and Ken Barlow in Coronation Street

tvThe actress has died aged 60
Arts and Entertainment
Marianne Jean-Baptiste defends Joe Miller in Broadchurch series two

Arts and Entertainment
The frill of it all: Hattie Morahan in 'The Changeling'

Arts and Entertainment
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny may reunite for The X Files

Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
A young woman punched a police officer after attending a gig by US rapper Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
    World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

    Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

    The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
    Why the league system no longer measures up

    League system no longer measures up

    Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
    Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

    Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

    Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
    Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

    Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

    The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
    Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

    Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

    Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
    Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

    Greece elections

    In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
    Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

    Holocaust Memorial Day

    Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
    Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

    Magnetic north

    The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness