Crumbs, that escalated quickly. Project fear – another one – spread like a summer flu bug and suddenly everyone is coughing up fury.

Step back from those chips, walk away from the beer, cut out cake or risk the doors of NHS hospitals slamming in your podgy face. Obese people should be allowed to die to save public money, he said. Fatties are persona non grata, he said. Let them reap the awful consequences of lazy lifestyles and burgers.

Sheesh! A bit much, that. Demonised and doomed for carrying extra weight? Even in this weird, less than wonderful world, that takes some swallowing.

But wait. Was this radical, headline-grabbing, news-agenda dominating death sentence coming from a policy maker, a doctor, learned researcher or expert health professional?

None of the above. He was just some bloke off the telly. Michael Buerk, one time newscaster, journalist – now gainfully employed advertising how to borrow money – shared his culling thoughts in a magazine dedicated to telly addicts and the gasket of public opinion blew spectacularly.

Preferring to think the best of most people, where possible, I took from his musings a tongue-in-cheek tone; a sense that he might have been poking a sharp stick at state nannying, which can tend to verge on social engineering. I could have been mistaken. The majority of commentators and critics in national newspapers, TV and radio talk shows and on social media, took the view that Buerk – once such a mild-mannered sort of chap – had morphed into some kind of monster.

He went viral, which may well have been his intention. It struck as interesting though, as an exercise in projects of fear, that when some bloke off the telly speaks, cheers and/or jeers rise universally. When policy makers state their case, politics fatigue sets in and turns us deaf.

Maybe the NHS should take a budgeting stance on celebrity trumpeters of unhelpfully discordant tunes. There’s plenty of them... mouthy celebs, I mean.

Suppose for a moment he was genuinely exposing his extreme disapproval of the overweight, believing their health problems and issues to be self-inflicted. There would surely be, by extension, many other people undeserving of NHS care in a crisis. Sports injuries are surely self-inflicted, driving a car or riding a bike risks life and limb on a daily basis, fell-walking and mountain-climbing can be hellishly hazardous and can’t truthfully be classed as essential.

Work related stress? It’s your own fault, don’t work so hard. You smoke or drink – hang on, you smoke AND drink? Be gone! As for Parkrunners, should you fall and break an ankle, fix it yourself. Tumbled down the stairs at home? Should have bought a bungalow.

He made the case that fat folk lose years of life and therefore save the state loads of money – a good thing, he argued. Let them. Thin people, model citizens who deny themselves guilty pleasures, live longer. Eventually in a care home, probably. If they’re fortunate enough to find or afford one.

Reserving the National Health Service for the healthy is the most crackpot idea since austerity. It probably springs from austerity, come to think of it. Venture outside your front door and there’s a chance you’ll need some help before you return home – however heavy you are. That’s what our health service is there for, right? Responding to need.

It’s hard to believe Mr Buerk is a crackpot, which is why I like to think he was having a pop at a nannying culture, rather than promoting a final solution. Mind you, when he concluded that the overweight were “weak, not ill” he failed to endear himself to all those who owe their obesity problems to mental and physical conditions beyond their control.

Everybody has some bright – or dumb – idea about how to fix the NHS. Allowing people in need of care to die early enough to drop from the balance sheet shouldn’t even figure.

For now, it doesn’t. And even though the thought is out there, thanks to Buerk’s provocative opinions hitting his viral target, it’s still up to us to ensure it doesn’t take root.

Because, after all... he’s just some bloke off the telly.