There’s a distinct and definite Charlie Brooker-shaped hole in our Christmas schedules for the second year in a row, with Brooker’s Wipe of the Year taking a back seat due to the hectic writing schedule for his other brainchild, Netflix anthology Black Mirror.
“In terms of the Wipe shows, Black Mirror takes up every spare moment that I have so at the moment it’s quite tricky,” he told RadioTimes.com earlier this year about retiring Wipe for the time being.
But if there was ever a time we needed Brooker’s razor-sharp take on the events of the year, it’s now.
2018 has seen President Donald Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen jailed, the UK’s Brexit deal hashed out and hated, and a vote of no confidence in our current Prime Minister – and that’s just December.
We’re also being robbed of Brooker’s take on the entirety of England frankly losing their sweet minds over getting to the semi-finals of the World Cup, the national phenomenon that is Love Island, and the shameful events that led to the Windrush Scandal, among many, many other Wipe-worthy moments.
In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb and say it: I would rather forego another series of Black Mirror for just one more annual Wipe.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Black Mirror, it’s utterly fantastic. Often described as The Twilight Zone for the Apple generation, that comparison doesn’t quite do the show justice in terms of just how prescient it is. Over the course of four series, Brooker has predicted people being rated, mechanical bees and the Prime Minister (allegedly) putting his penis in a pig to name but a few nightmare scenarios come true.
But as the show grows in international popularity, the glitzier and more daring offerings we’ve since seen inch further and further away from the pitch-black, scorched earth feel that made Black Mirror so deliciously dark and enticing. And the ‘Americanisation’ of Black Mirror means it’s not quite the distinct entity it once was at its inception on Channel 4 in 2010, and it risks becoming lost in the vast sea of drama at its new home of Netflix.
Wipe, though, is entirely unique to Brooker and his comedy stylings – acerbic, cutting and observationally sharp, Brooker is able to wring humour from even the bleakest situations with his rapid-fire wit.
His last outing in 2016 saw him spit bile in the face of year that was seemingly sponsored by the Apocalypse itself, latching on to the most depressing headlines and forcing them into a linguistic headlock. Nigel Farage was referred to as “the human equivalent of a pop-up advert you can’t click away”, while Trump resembled “a cling film parcel of Frankfurter meat that’s been kicked through a yellow cobweb”.
Brooker sometimes even says it best when he says nothing at all, his silent glance to camera during Farage’s Brexit rant about winning “without a bullet even being fired” conveying more than words ever could.
And in spite of the doom and gloom looming over proceedings, Emmy award-winning Brooker is still not above dropping a ‘your mum’ joke within his writing – something that, in these uncertain times, is strangely reassuring.
However, with the underwhelmist off our screens again at Christmas, Channel 4 has decided to have a go at replacing Brooker with its own review show headed up by Rob ‘Judge’ Rinder for Rob Rinder’s Good Year Bad Year.
While Rinder is brilliant at delivering verdicts with a flamboyant flourish on his daytime TV programme, Brooker is, frankly, the only person on television qualified to do a news and pop culture review of the year. With ten years as a columnist under his belt, Brooker has honed his scathing style so sharply that any newcomer even vaguely attempting to mimic him very quickly pales into comparison.
And those vitriolic rants against the year’s most prominent figures are used to underline a more poignant point about the state of society – Brooker’s belief that we are becoming too politically polarised as a people.
So with all due respect, Judge Rinder, in the words of Brooker himself – go away. And with all due respect Black Mirror, I’d sell a whole series of you right now for just one episode of Charlie Brooker’s Wipe of the Year.