In Praise of Charlie Brooker

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Praise the powers that be, Black Mirror is back on our screens. Yep, one of the most interesting, breathtaking shows of all time is settling into its new home on Netflix right now and I for one will be binge watching each episode as soon as I can (with a break between each to stop shaking presumably).

However, instead of recapping the seven episodes you’ve missed or ranking them in a way everyone has probably done already, I’d thought I’d put more focus onto the oeuvre of our great and sarcastic leader Charlie Brooker.

For those who don’t know, Charlie Brooker is a writer, satirist and broadcaster whose contribution to TV over the last decade has been incomparable. You may know him best from his Weekly Wipe, and in extension Yearly Wipe, but his best work comes in the form of his fiction.

Through his creation and collaboration on the following shows, Brooker has become one of my favourite writers and if like me, you love Black Mirror, then you should check out these wonderful shows too.

Dead Set (2008)

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Rarely talked about but never bettered, Dead Set was a mini-series that asked what would happen if the Big Brother house was the only safe place in Britain during a zombie apocalypse.

As a massive zombie nerd, I love this show. Brooker expertly captures the essence of what all great Zombie fiction should be, building tension with small details and the fervour of a collapsing country in the background whilst we are introduced to the characters.

We follow Kelly, a runner on the former C4 controlled Big Brother, who, along with her asshole boss, survive an onslaught on the compound and lock themselves in with the bunch of narcissistic housemates.

Written with sharp satire and self-aware humour, Dead Set had such a handle on its source material that it was able to better it. Breathlessly terrifying and unrelentingly dark, before Black Mirror and even The Walking Dead, Charlie Brooker cut his dramatic teeth on this zombie drama and proved he had the writing chops.

A Touch of Cloth (2012-2014)

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Another underrated series that was co-written Brooker, it stars John Hannah and Suranne Jones as two detectives in this spot-on pastiche of detective shows. Easily one of the funniest shows I’ve ever seen, there’s only three feature length episodes but each one is jam packed with visual gags, wordplay and verbal silliness that you’ll have to watch each multiple times to catch all the jokes.

It’s a little harder to find but I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

Wipes (Ongoing)

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I admit I haven’t seen some of Brooker’s earlier work, namely his collaboration with Brass Eyes’ Chris Morris called ‘Nathan Barley’. However, I love to watch any of his Wipe shows. Gameswipe, Newswipe, Yearlywipe etc.

These satirical looks at news or society are wry, sarcastic, satirical and funny in a depressing way. Just take a look at his 2015 wipe which makes you laugh and feel depressed at the same time. Of course, he isn’t the sole writer of these exquisite pieces of satire yet his darkly comic sensibilities are inherent in each of them.

Black Mirror (2011 - Present)

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Of course, the point of this post is to point out the other fantastic works of Brooker but it’s worth mentioning that if you haven’t yet, you really, really need to watch Black Mirror. It’s genuinely brilliant and unlike anything on TV. Watch it if you can.

Is Black Mirror your favourite Charlie Brooker show or does Dead Set tickle your fancy? Maybe A Touch of Cloth is the comedy masterpiece you’ve been waiting for or does Weekly Wipe satisfy your need for great British sarcasm.

Let me know.