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“”I'm quite hardcore on this. I think every psychic and medium in this country belongs in prison. Even the ones demented enough to believe in what they're doing. In fact, especially them. Give them windowless cells and make them crap in buckets.
Charlie Brooker is a British writer, journalist, broadcaster and all-round decent bloke. His output is usually media-centric, humour driven material, rife with profanity and odd, Chris Morris-esque turns-of-phrase. Also heavily present is a level of self-deprecation that borders on flagellation. Brooker has variously ridiculed his status as:
- A geek
- A wuss
- Author of some utterly disgusting (but hilarious) stuff on TVGoHome
- A curmudgeon who started middle-age in his twenties
- A sex-starved pervert
- A smartarse who built his career on ripping other people's work apart
- A simpleton (allegedly)
- His producer's (Annabel Jones) bitch
- An ugly so-and-so - he famously compared his physical appearance to "a cross between a white Laurence Fishburne, a paedophile walrus and a scowling pork knuckle."
Despite all the above, his career hit an undeniable stride in the late noughties, winning awards for both his print and screen work. Also, his wife is the uber-hot Konnie Huq, whom he married in July 2010 - making his "mock wank" gag over her famous Blue Peter apology (made a few years earlier) a bit more hilarious and/or disturbing. All this has made him the envy and idol of snarky cynics across the UK.
In late 2015, "Piggate" made it clear that Brooker is also an Alan Moore-level magician.
- TVGoHome - web-based spoof TV listings in the style of The Radio Times. Likened in its day to The Onion as a humour site actually worth visiting. Brooker closed up shop in 2002 when real-life shows started to resemble his ludicrous postings. An archive can be found here.
- Screen Burn - sort-of offshoot from TVGoHome, a TV column written for The Guardian supplement G2. Ended in October 2010, although Brooker remains a regular contributor to the Grauniad.
- Screenwipe with Charlie Brooker - sort-of offshoot from Screen Burn, a TV show about the inner workings of television in which Brooker perfects the image of the caustic critic. Thoroughly educational as well as funny. Probably where you saw Charlie first.
- Newswipe with Charlie Brooker - straight-up offshoot from Screenwipe, Brooker sharpens his focus to the news media. Broadened his audience in global terms when The Huffington Post featured a segment.
- Nathan Barley (2005) - another sort-of offshoot from TVGoHome. Sitcom satirising the pretensions of both old and new media and the Encyclopedia Dramatica-style approach to comedy wherein offensive = funny. Co-written with Chris Morris. Viewers remain divided as to the overall quality of the series, but it's gained a following in recent years for having been extremely prescient of the excesses of web humour and internet celebrities in the 2010s, the only problem being that it was made at a time when those things were still niche interests that would fly over the heads of most viewers rather than mainstream phenomena.
- Dead Set (2008) - Zombie apocalypse miniseries set in the Big Brother house. Naturally, it's sprinkled with some commentary on the nature of reality TV, but mostly provides some terrific gore and dark humour.
- You Have Been Watching - panel show hosted by Brooker. Essentially Screenwipe but with games and a studio audience. Not altogether warmly received (Private Eye was among those who claimed that Charlie had gone from "sending up crap TV shows" to hosting one), with inevitable whinging that the front man had finally sold out, exacerbated by his poncey new haircut. This is usually explained by Brooker appearing happy on the show, rather than angry. How dare he!
- 10 O'Clock Live (2011-2013) - comedy news and current events show presented by Brooker alongside David Mitchell, Lauren Laverne and Jimmy Carr. Spun off from The Alternative Election Night, which was broadcast during the UK 2010 General Election featuring the same lineup. Unwisely billed as a British answer to The Daily Show, its reception has been fairly guarded and mixed. Generally Brooker's segments are good, Carr's standup was edgy, David Mitchell's debates and interviews were too short and never quite found the balance between funny and serious, and even after 25 episodes no one really could figure out what Lauren Laverne was even for. The show was also criticised for being too partisan; if Fox News leaned more to the right than a man who had his right leg blown off, 10 O'Clock Live certainly kneecapped itself very cleanly in the left leg.
- How TV Ruined Your Life (2011) - don't say it didn't, because it did. This is essentially Screenwipe with a bigger budget and some TVGoHome style sketches that you're never quite sure are real or not, and takes many of Brooker's Screenwipe rants (occasionally word-for-word) and expands upon them in to a full half hour, taking on a more documentary tone that you might even have learned something from.
- Black Mirror (2011-2019) - seriously f**king dark and awesome satire on modern culture and how television and the internet have affected it. The first series included a kidnap plot where the ransom demand was "the Prime Minister must have full intercourse with a pig on live television"; an alternative future dystopia where people are made to cycle on exercise bikes for "merits", which they can then spend on utterly pointless crap or an audition for an X-Factor style TV show; and a world where everyone's memories are recorded and etched onto a chip, which, of course, ends well. The second series included bringing someone back from the dead using data they recorded about themselves through social networking profiles, and a comedy cartoon character who inadvertently runs for election - a proper summary of the second episode would be a great big spoiler, but it's a fundamentally depressing (like, really nasty awful depressing) skewer towards voyeurism.
- Weekly Wipe (2013-2015) - A further follow-up to the Newswipe and Screenwipe brands, combining both concepts of news/TV coverage of the last week in the same style. This follows on from the yearly Wipe specials that started in 2010 covering the same combined topics over the years.
Other points of interest
- Screenwipe Series 4, Episode 1. - Presumably instead of nurses outfits and police woman uniforms, Konnie dresses up as a Blue Peter presenter and apologies to Charlie when they want to spice up bedroom life. Get that image out of your head, yeah.
- Nathan Barley (TV Mini-Series), IMDb
- 10 O'Clock Live, IMDb
- In true Brooker style, he's used it as a point of self-parody, with Karl Pilkington-lookalike Barry Shitpeas calling it "this satire thing for Guardian readers who think they're better than everyone else."
- Black Mirror, IMDb
- Which came true. Allegedly.