Calum Henderson writes about (mainly terrible) television.

Calum Henderson: Why this humble pizza maker cooks up riveting TV

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Life of a Domino’s Pizza worker turns out to be riveting viewing.
Matt Taylor is a proud Dominoid who wants to be draped in the Domino's flag when he dies. Photo / Supplied
Matt Taylor is a proud Dominoid who wants to be draped in the Domino's flag when he dies. Photo / Supplied

"I've figured it out," said Matt Taylor, the manager of a South Wales branch of Domino's Pizza. "I'm going to be cremated, so the song I want playing when I'm going into the death chamber is the Domino's chant, and I want to be draped in the Domino's flag ... "

Matt's glorious vision of death came about two minutes into TV One's Tuesday night documentary Domino's Pizza: A Slice of Life this week, and marked the exact moment the idea of a TV special about a pizza company went from the most boring thing anyone could imagine to pretty much essential viewing.

Until this moment the only thing most people ever wanted to know about Domino's was, "Where's my pizza?". But behind closed doors the multinational pizza company has a corporate culture that's "a little bit out there, a little bit crazy," in the words of its UK operations director Scott McLeod.

Matt was what's known as a 'Dominoid' - that's "someone who bleeds sauce and spits cheese," according to McLeod, a loud, confident American who came across as a kind of pizza evangelist. "They think about Domino's Pizza when they go to sleep, they think about Domino's Pizza when they wake up."

That doesn't sound like the healthiest work/life balance, but it worked for Matt. "I've pretty much failed at everything I've done in life," he admitted, but Domino's gave him a chance.

Now he was in the running for the coveted Manager of the Year title at the annual Domino's awards, one of many corporate events where Dominoids get to participate in the company chant: Who are we? Domino's Pizza, What are we? Number one, What do we do? Sell more pizza, have more fun. Matt's main competition for the award was an Iraqi guy called Zagros Jaff, who had never seen a pizza when he arrived in the UK as a 16-year-old, and who now held the title of the UK's fastest pizza maker. Speed pizza-making seems to be a weirdly important part of the Domino's culture, involving weeks-long training camps and a lot of frantic shouting.

While speed pizza could probably be a televised sport in its own right, the most fascinating scenes in this documentary were the behind-the-counter operations. Matt faced the stressful logistics of managing deliveries on the night of a Wales v England rugby test - his store's busiest night of the year - and his near-religious enthusiasm made the whole thing look like fun.

Of course, Matt and Zagros are hardly your typical Domino's managers. In fact nobody in the whole documentary seemed to merely like or just tolerate their jobs. The closest thing to dissatisfaction we saw was the 16-year-old kids sent to promote the new Rotherham branch outside the local football stadium who realised their Domino's uniforms were the same colour as the opposition. "Everyone's started to think we're Milwall," the one in the Danny Domino costume worried. "We'd best get out of here." Still, the one-sided glimpse we did get of life behind the scenes of a global pizza brand made for an unexpectedly entertaining hour of Tuesday night TV.

The big American boss was a sight to behold, and his British counterpart wasn't much better - he kept going to high-five employees and being left hanging. But really it was all about good old store manager Matt.

"He clearly lives the Dominoid lifestyle," said one of the Manager of the Year judges. "This isn't just a job for me, or a livelihood," said Matt. "It's life."

- NZ Herald

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