One of the things I’m looking forward to the most during the next month or so is Black Mirror, a series of three twisted Tales of the Unexpected-style comedy-dramas brought to the screen by Charlie Brooker, all on the subject of tech-paranoia and worries about the modern world. The trailer has just landed, so here it is:
The first story, The National Anthem, is the most grounded in reality, with Rory Kinnear as the Prime Minister, caught up in something of a social media storm. Brooker says, “It’s sort of inspired by these news events that get whipped up in the social networks and Twitter, and everything feels like it’s rattling slightly out of control. I’m thinking about things like The Raoul Moat saga and when Gordon brown had to go and apologise to Gillian Duffy. You get this sort of strange centrifugal force that builds up throughout the day with the rolling news networks and public opinion.”
The second was co-written by Brooker and his wife, Konnie Huq. 15 Million Merits is a satire of entertainment shows and reality TV in a dystopian world where the only escape is entering the “Hot Shot” show, not entirely dissimilar to the sorts of ideas explored in The Year of the Sex Olympics, The Running Man and, more recently, The Hunger Games. It stars The Fades’ Daniel Kaluuya and Downton Abbey’s Jessica Brown Findlay, with Rupert Everett and Julia Davis as the talent show judges and is directed by Doctor Who’s Euros Lyn. It also has some rather swish effects, where every surface acts like an iPad.
The final episode (with the working title In Memoriam, eventually titled The Entire History of You) is written by Peep Show and Fresh Meat co-creator Jesse Armstrong. It’s set in a world where everyone has a memory chip in their heads which records everything they see and do – a sort of Sky+ for the brain. Might sound ok, but as the couple in this story discover, it can have a pretty major down side.
So, these are cautionary tales? “Kind of”, says Brooker, “but above all it’s entertainment and satire, they’re all quite dramatic, but there’s humour in them as well, which often tends to be quite bleak. But they’re not finger-wagging, saying ‘all this technology is bad’. It’s not that. It’s exploring a lot of what ifs with technology at their heart. I’m slightly wary of even mentioning the technological aspect to it, in case it makes it sound like someone reading out the instructions to a satellite box. They’re very much rollicking tales.”