It isn’t life or death all the way through, mind you. The first choice offered is simply whether you’d prefer Sugar Puffs or Frosties for breakfast – seemingly an easy decision to get viewers used to how Bandersnatch works.
At least, that’s what we thought. But according to Black Mirror co-creator and writer Charlie Brooker, in early drafts of the script the cereal selection returned to the story at a later date – and had a particularly grisly punchline.
“There is a small pay-off that comes later on,” Brooker told RadioTimes.com, explaining how the cereal choice works in the finished film. “Depending on what you chose at the start, when Stefan goes to put a video tape in his TV, it shows you an advert for whichever cereal it was.”
However, Brooker’s original idea was to tie the cereal selection into the eventual death of Stefan’s father (played by Craig Parkinson), who ends up murdered and/or dismembered by Stefan in some versions of the story.
“Do you remember what it was originally?” Brooker asked fellow showrunner Annabel Jones.
“It was that when you kill Dad in the kitchen, there was going to be a cutaway shot of whichever cereal you chose, the cereal box on the table getting splattered with blood.
“That always struck me as a really funny gag: to see the Honey Monster with blood going slosh!” the screenwriter laughed.
“The Honey Monster would have loved it,” added Jones.
“Yeah, because once he’s got a taste for human blood, that’s it,” agreed Brooker.”You can’t turn him back, he’s a f***ing carnivore.”
THEY MADE ME CHOOSE BETWEEN TWO CEREAL VARIANTS I DON'T EVEN EAT THOSE BAKET BA KASI HINDI HONEY STARS AND KOKO CRUNCH I AM SO STRESSED THAT MY CHOICE OF CEREAL WILL AFFECT THE WHOLE FILM #Bandersnatchpic.twitter.com/H83QVhJG2Y
Before you desperately try to play through and get that ending, though, it’s worth remembering that Brooker and Jones ended up cutting the idea for a very simple reason: if they did it, they realised, they might lose permission from the cereal companies to use their branding.
“I think maybe we weren’t going to be given permission to use the boxes if we did that,” Brooker said.
“Not quite showing the ‘positive light of the product,’” added Jones.
Still, in the end the Sugar Puffs/Frosties choice was tricky enough for viewers – and even between themselves, Brooker and Jones weren’t able to decide, with Brooker opting to choose Frosties while Jones always went for Sugar Puffs.
“What the f*** are Sugar Puffs? They’re like insects,” Brooker said.”I’ve never liked them.”
“You are absolutely in the minority,”Jones said. “And when Netflix gives us the report on everyone, how they’ve been playing, I bet you everyone in the UK will say Sugar Puffs.”
“Hilariously, it’s not that we knew this would actually divide people,” she added. “Charlie was doing it as a funny gag.”
Sign up to the Radio Times newsletter for the latest TV and entertainment news