Charlie Brooker on grim news, social media and secretive future projects

As his BBC2 series Weekly Wipe returns, we quiz the coruscating writer and broadcaster...

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Misanthropes, pessimists and general grumps rejoice: Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe returns to the airwaves tonight to offer more scabrous commentary on news coverage, TV, film and whatever else catches Brooker’s gimlet eye. 

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We recently caught up with him and couldn’t resist also asking about the future of his Channel 4 drama series Black Mirror and the possibility of a Brooker book…


So Weekly Wipe is back – are you looking forward to its return?

It’s always surprisingly gruelling, but also fun at the same time. I mean, it’s a weird show because obviously we’re a hybrid – we’re part current affairs and part entertainment.

So we can hopefully balance the grimmer aspects of current affairs with the froth of what else is going on in telly. 

Do you ever worry about it being too depressing, or struggle to see the funny side of the news?

Because we’re looking at the way things are covered generally, it means there is often an absurdity that creeps into almost any story, no matter how serious it is.

Recently, obviously there were the [Charlie Hebdo attacks] in Paris, so you’ll often get something that THEN happens like the Fox News pundit who was erroneously stating that Birmingham was a no-go town for non-Muslims. There’s usually some angle that you can get a comic foothold on, without being flippant necessarily.

What’s new in this series of Weekly Wipe?

We’ve got some new contributors – Morgana Robinson is joining us, I believe, and Casetteboy is going to be doing stuff regularly for us this series. So there’ll be some new faces amongst the old ones. There’ll also be new arms, and necks too. Basically human beings.

Also, the parody law has changed, so we should be able to do slightly more than we could before.

A lot of young people watch Weekly Wipe – do you ever worry you’re their main source of news?

I don’t. Maybe that would have been the case at some point, but I think it’s almost the opposite – increasingly these days a lot of people are on social media, and are probably more aware of what’s going on in the world than they’ve ever been at any other point.

With any show that’s comedic and topical you’ve got the opposite problem in a way. Often, lots and lots of jokes will have been made on Twitter, or Facebook or wherever, and you’re just hoping not to repeat things. You can’t fight the hive mind. You’re never going to be able to completely outdo 200,000 people.

We probably are bringing people’s attention to the smaller stories, or the weirder stories. Or weird and wonderful shows we found on some cable channel.

Will you carry on doing the Wipe series for the foreseeable, or will you step away some day?

While we’re doing the series it takes up every spare second I have – and I am now a dad of two, which is where it gets more tricky. That’s one of the reasons why we tend to have such short runs, actually, because it just takes up a lot of time. What a first-world problem that is!

So, er, I don’t know. The material is constantly being generated by what’s happening in the world and by what’s on screen, so there’s no reason we couldn’t do it forever, until people got completely and utterly sick of it and me. And then someone else could potentially take over, and do it all. We could have a guest me every week.

Unless time runs out for earth, in which case we’d have bigger fish to fry. I don’t think I’d be worrying about the coverage of that, I’d be running for the hills.

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Over the page: Black Mirror, novel-writing and future projects…