Charlie Brooker may have had a Prime Minister getting it on with a pig on Channel 4, but there’s still a show the Black Mirror creator couldn’t get on the box.
Speaking at the BFI & Radio Times Television Festival, the Weekly Wipe writer revealed the comedy the broadcasters turned down.
“I wrote a sitcom called God Save the Queen. The storyline was that a punk band that were basically the Sex Pistols get killed in a mass hanging – they’re hanged by a Tory MP in 1977,” explained Brooker. “And then they slip through a hole in the space-time continuum and wake up in 2004, when I wrote it. All the punks end up moaning about ringtones – God, that dates it!”
Fans of Brooker might map the sitcom perpendicular to Nathan Barley, the 2005 comedy that dialled into the rise of “urban imbeciles” and their obsession with phone technology and the internet. And while that show, co-written with Chris Morris, proved a zeitgeisty success, Brooker wasn’t convinced it would ever get off the ground: “[Morris and I] discussed Nathan Barley for about four or five years. The process was taking so long I thought ‘this is clearly never going to happen, but I’m enjoying all these meetings that I’m having with him’”.
Julian Barratt’s ‘Rise of the Idiots’ reading in Nathan Barley
It also turns out that police procedural pastiche A Touch of Cloth (“you’re coming apart at the seams, Cloth!”) almost never hit screens either, with Brooker revealing that the show was pitched to the BBC five years before Sky picked it up.
Lesson learned: even if the first pitch fails, a commission may beckon a few years down the line. So there’s still a chance we’ll see a cast of 1970s punk rockers facing off against generation Spotify…