Charlie Brooker

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This article is about the English broadcaster. For the Canadian ice hockey player, see Charlie Brooker (ice hockey).
Charlie Brooker
Charlie Brooker.jpg
Brooker at the 2011 Royal Television Society Awards
Born Charlton Brooker
(1971-03-03) 3 March 1971 (age 43)
Reading, Berkshire, England
Occupation Humourist, satirist, critic, journalist, author, screenwriter, producer, presenter
Years active 1998–present
Spouse(s) Konnie Huq
(2010–present)
Children 2

Charlton "Charlie" Brooker (born 3 March 1971) is an English satirist and broadcaster. He has worked in television, radio, print and online media.

In addition to writing credits for programmes such as Brass Eye, The 11 O'Clock Show and Nathan Barley, Brooker has presented a number of television shows, including Screenwipe, Gameswipe, Newswipe, Weekly Wipe, and 10 O'Clock Live. He is also noted for his five-part horror drama Dead Set, which was nominated for the 2009 Best Drama Serial BAFTA, and as creator and co-writer of the tragicomedy drama series Black Mirror. He writes a comment piece for The Guardian and is one of four creative directors of the production company Zeppotron.

Brooker's style of humour is acerbic, savage, profane, and often controversial with surreal elements and a consistent satirical pessimism. He won the 2009 Columnist of the Year award at the British Press Awards,[1] the 2010 Best Entertainment Programme Award for Newswipe from the Royal Television Society, and has received three British Comedy Awards: Best Newcomer in 2009, Best Comedy Entertainment Show Award for Newswipe in 2011, and Best Comedy Entertainment Personality in 2012.

Early life[edit]

Brooker was born in Reading, Berkshire[2] and grew up in the village of Brightwell-cum-Sotwell, Oxfordshire. His grandparents organised a Quaker meeting house.[3] He first worked as a writer and cartoonist for Oink!, a comic produced in the late 1980s.[4] After attending Wallingford School, he attended the Polytechnic of Central London (which became the University of Westminster during his time there), studying for a BA in Media Studies. He claims that he did not graduate because his dissertation was written on video games, which was not an acceptable topic.[4][5]

Career[edit]

Print[edit]

Brooker wrote for PC Zone magazine in the mid-1990s.[6] Aside from games reviews, his output included the comic strip "Cybertwats" and a column titled "Sick Notes", where Brooker would insult anyone who wrote in to the magazine and offered a £50 prize to the "best" letter.

In February 1998, one of Brooker's one-shot cartoons caused the magazine to be pulled from the shelves of many British newsagents. The cartoon was titled "Helmut Werstler's Cruelty Zoo" and professed to be an advert for a theme park created by a Teutonic psychologist for children to take out their violent impulses on animals rather than humans. It was accompanied by photoshopped pictures of children smashing the skulls of monkeys with hammers, jumping on a badger with a pitchfork, and chainsawing an orang-utan, among other things. The original joke was supposed to be at the expense of the Tomb Raider games, known at the time for the number of animals killed, but the original title, "Lara Croft's Cruelty Zoo", was changed for legal reasons. In October 2008, Brooker and several other ex-writers were invited back to review a game for the 200th issue. Brooker reviewed Euro Truck Simulator.

Brooker began writing a TV review column titled "Screen Burn" for The Guardian newspaper's Saturday entertainment supplement The Guide in 2000, a role he continued through to October 2010.

From the autumn of 2005, he wrote a regular series of columns in The Guardian supplement "G2" on Fridays called "Supposing", in which he free-associated on a set of vague what-if themes. From October 2006 this column was expanded into a full-page section on Mondays, including samples from TVGoHome and Ignopedia, an occasional series of pseudo-articles on topics mostly suggested by readers. The key theme behind Ignopedia was that, while Wikipedia is written and edited by thousands of users, Ignopedia would be written by a single sub-par person with little or no awareness of the facts.[7]

On 24 October 2004, he wrote a column on George W. Bush and the forthcoming 2004 US Presidential Election[8] which concluded:

The Guardian withdrew the article from its website and published and endorsed an apology by Brooker.[9] He has since commented about the remark in the column stating:

Brooker left the "Screen Burn" column in 2010. In the final column,[11] he noted how increasingly difficult he found it to reconcile his role in mainstream media and TV production with his writing as a scabrous critic or to objectively criticise those he increasingly works and socialises with. Longtime covering contributor Grace Dent took over the column. He continues to contribute other articles to The Guardian on a regular basis, and wrote a weekly comment column for the G2 supplement until May 2013.

Online[edit]

A number of Brooker's artworks were available to the public on his website. This body of work is drawn both from the commissions of his various patrons, and began as a paper comic that was sold to customers at Brooker's former workplace CeX. In addition to its counter presence, Brooker sold issues to mail order customers when they called up to place orders for games. One aspect of the SuperKaylo site was a series of recorded phone conversations that had originally started from a commissioned featured for PC Zone on technical support phonelines. Brooker took things further than this half serious investigation, when in 1999 he called up the then editor of Edge magazine, Jason Brookes. Pretending to be an angry father, he phoned up enraged by an advert that had appeared in a previous issue for CeX, one that Brooker himself had written and drawn.

From 1999 to 2003 he wrote the satirical TVGoHome website,[12][13] a regular series of mock TV schedules published in a format similar to that of the Radio Times, consisting of a combination of savage satire and surreal humour and featured in technology newsletter Need To Know. A print adaptation of the site was published by Fourth Estate in 2001. A TV sketch show based on the site was broadcast on UK digital station E4 the same year.[14]

Television[edit]

From 1999 to 2000, Brooker played hooded expert 'the Pundit' in the short-lived show Games Republic, hosted by Trevor and Simon on BSkyB.

In 2000, Brooker was one of the writers of the Channel 4 show The 11 O'Clock Show and a co-host (with Gia Milinovich) on BBC Knowledge's The Kit, a low-budget programme dedicated to gadgets and technology (1999–2000). In 2001, he was one of several writers on Channel 4's controversial Brass Eye special on the subject of paedophilia.

In 2003, Brooker wrote an episode entitled "How to Watch Television" for Channel 4's The Art Show.[15] The episode was presented in the style of a public information film and was partly animated.

Together with Brass Eye's Chris Morris, Brooker co-wrote the sitcom Nathan Barley, based on a character from one of TVGoHome's fictional programmes. The show was broadcast in 2005 and focused on the lives of a group of London media 'trendies'. The same year, he was also on the writing team of the Channel 4 sketch show Spoons, produced by Zeppotron.

Wipe series[edit]

In 2006, Brooker began writing and presenting the television series Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe on BBC Four, a TV review programme in a similar style to his Screen Burn columns in The Guardian. After an initial pilot series of three editions in April of that year, the programme returned in the autumn for a second run of four episodes plus Christmas and Review of the Year specials in December 2006. A third series followed in February 2007 with a fourth broadcast in September 2007, followed by a Review of the Year in December 2007. The fifth series started in November 2008 and was followed by another Review of the Year special. This series was also the first to be given a primetime repeat on terrestrial television (BBC Two), in January 2009.

Screenwipe '​s format mostly consists of two elements. The first is the playing of clips from other television shows – both mainstream and obscure – interspersed with shots of Brooker, sitting in his living room,[16] delivering witty critiques on them. The second is where Brooker explains, again with a slice of barbed humour, the way in which a particular area of the television industry operates. Also occasionally featured are animations by David Firth and guest contributions, which have included the poetry of Tim Key, and segments in which a guest explains their fascination with a certain television programme or genre.

Brooker has regularly experimented with Screenwipe, with some editions focusing on a specific theme. These themes have included American television, TV news, advertising and children's programmes. The last of these involved a segment where Brooker joined the cast of Toonattik for one week, playing the character of "Angry News Guy". Probably the most radical departure from the norm came with an episode focused on scriptwriting, which saw several of British television's most prominent writers interviewed by Brooker.

As per the development of his career with The Guardian, a similar show called Newswipe, focusing on current affairs reportage by the international news media, began on BBC Four on 25 March 2009. A second series began on 19 January 2010. He has also written and presented the one-off special Gameswipe which focused on video games and aired on BBC Four on 29 September 2009.

Brooker's "2010 Wipe", a review of 2010, was broadcast on BBC2 on 27 December 2010, and a new documentary series How TV Ruined Your Life started on BBC2 on 25 January 2011.

Charlie Brooker's 2011 Wipe was broadcast on BBC Four on 30 December 2011.[17][18] It was repeated on BBC Two on 3 January 2012. A 2012 Wipe aired on 1 January 2013 on BBC2.[19] 2012 Wipe was presented by Brooker in the same format as his previous year-in-review shows, with contributions from Al Campbell, Diane Morgan and Doug Stanhope – Campbell and Morgan appeared onscreen as their alter egos "Barry Shitpeas" and "Philomena Cunk".

Charlie Brooker's Weekly Wipe was first broadcast on BBC2 on 31 January 2013.[20] It is an amalgam of Screenwipe and Newswipe, with sections focussing on recent news, televisions shows and films. Along with the regular cast, it also features guests who discuss recent events.[21] A second series began in January 2014.[22] An 'end-of-year' special, "2013 Wipe", was shown on 28 December 2013.[23]

He often signs off his programmes with a characteristic "Thank you for watching. Now go away."[24]

Dead Set[edit]

Main article: Dead Set

Brooker wrote Dead Set, a five-part zombie horror thriller for E4 set in the Big Brother house.[25] The show was broadcast in October 2008 to coincide with Halloween and was repeated on Channel 4 in January 2009 to coincide with Celebrity Big Brother, and again for Halloween later that year.[26] It was produced by Zeppotron, which also produced Screenwipe.

Brooker told MediaGuardian.co.uk it comprised a "mixture of known and less well known faces" and "Dead Set is very different to anything I've done before, and I hope the end result will surprise, entertain and appall people in equal measure." He added that he has long been a fan of horror films and that his new series "could not be described as a comedy". "I couldn't really describe what it is but it will probably surprise people," Brooker said, adding that he plans to "continue as normal" with his print journalism.

Jaime Winstone starred as a runner on the TV programme, and Big Brother presenter Davina McCall guest starred as herself.[27] Dead Set received a BAFTA nomination for Best Drama Serial.[28]

Black Mirror[edit]

Main article: Black Mirror

In December 2011, Brooker's Black Mirror, a three-part television drama series, aired on Channel 4 to largely positive reviews.[29][30][31] As well as creating the show, Brooker wrote the first episode and co-wrote the second with his wife Konnie Huq. He also wrote all three episodes of season two.

The series is produced by Zeppotron for Endemol. Regarding the programme's content and structure, Brooker noted, "each episode has a different cast, a different setting, even a different reality. But they're all about the way we live now – and the way we might be living in 10 minutes' time if we're clumsy."[32]

An Endemol press release describes the series as "a hybrid of The Twilight Zone and Tales of the Unexpected which taps into our contemporary unease about our modern world", with the stories having a "techno-paranoia" feel.[33] Channel 4 describes the first episode as "a twisted parable for the Twitter age".[34]

Brooker explained the series' title to The Guardian, noting: "If technology is a drug – and it does feel like a drug – then what, precisely, are the side-effects? This area – between delight and discomfort – is where Black Mirror, my new drama series, is set. The "black mirror" of the title is the one you'll find on every wall, on every desk, in the palm of every hand: the cold, shiny screen of a TV, a monitor, a smartphone."[32]

Other television work and appearances[edit]

He has co-written a feature-length spoof crime drama along with Daniel Maier for Sky1 called A Touch of Cloth, which first broadcast on 26 August 2012.[35]

Brooker has appeared on three episodes and one webisode of the popular BBC current affairs news quiz Have I Got News for You. He appeared on an episode of the Channel 4 panel show 8 Out of 10 Cats, The Big Fat Quiz of the Year 2009, Never Mind the Buzzcocks and Would I Lie To You?. In December 2006 he reviewed two games written by the presenters of VideoGaiden, on their show. He also made a brief appearance in the third and final instalment of the documentary series Games Britannia, discussing the rise and popularity of computer games.

Brooker wrote for the BBC Three sketch show Rush Hour.

In 2009, Brooker began hosting You Have Been Watching, a panel comedy TV quiz on Channel 4 which discusses television. A second series was broadcast the following year.

On 6 May 2010, Brooker was a co-host of the Channel 4 alternative election night, along with David Mitchell, Jimmy Carr and Lauren Laverne.[36] The telethon was interspersed with contributions from Brooker, some live in the studio but mostly pre-recorded. Notably, these included an "Election Special" of You Have Been Watching and two smaller segments in an almost identical style to Screenwipe (the only noticeable difference being that Brooker was sitting in a different room). Brooker described the experience of live television as being so nerve-wracking he "did a piss" during the broadcast.[37] A spin-off series, 10 O'Clock Live, started in January 2011 with the same four hosts.[38]

Brooker hosted How TV Ruined Your Life, the first episode of which was broadcast in January 2011.

Radio[edit]

Beginning on 11 May 2010, Brooker presented a 5-part BBC Radio 4 series celebrating failure titled So Wrong It's Right, in which guests compete to pitch the worst possible ideas for new franchises and give the 'most wrong' answer to a question. Also featured are guests' recollections about their own personal life failures and their complaints about life in general in a round called 'This Putrid Modern Hell'. Guests have included David Mitchell, Lee Mack, Josie Long, Frank Skinner, Helen Zaltzman, Holly Walsh, Graham Linehan and Richard Herring.[39] The second series started to be broadcast on 10 March 2011.[40] A third series was broadcast in May 2012.[41] In common with Screenwipe's use of a Grandaddy track (A.M. 180) from the album Under The Western Freeway as its theme tune, So Wrong It's Right uses another track from the same album, Summer Here Kids.

Personal life[edit]

Brooker became engaged to former Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq after dating for nine months, having met while filming an episode of Screenwipe.[42][43] They married on 26 July 2010 at the Little White Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas, Nevada.[44][45] On 23 March 2012, Huq gave birth to their first child, Covey Brooker Huq.[46] Their second son was born 28 February 2014.[47][48][49][50] Brooker is an atheist and contributed to The Atheist's Guide to Christmas.[51][51]

Awards[edit]

Brooker won Columnist of the Year at the 2009 British Press Awards for his Guardian column, with the judges describing Brooker as "edgy, entertaining and wonderfully surreal, he has the explosive writing skills that can turn your thinking upside down. A definite destination read and a jewel of a column. Acerbic, nasty, spiteful, yet clearly in love with every subject he writes about at the same time. Must read stuff".[1]

He won 2009 Best Newcomer at the British Comedy Awards for You Have Been Watching.

He won the 2010 Best Entertainment Programme Award for Newswipe of the Royal Television Society, beating The X Factor and Britain's Got Talent.

His show Newswipe won 2011 Best Comedy Entertainment Show at the British Comedy Awards.

He was awarded the 2012 Best Comedy Entertainment Personality at the British Comedy Awards.

Publications[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "British Press Awards 2009: The full list of winners". Press Gazette. 1 April 2009. Retrieved 16 January 2010. 
  2. ^ GRO Register of Births: MAR 1971 6a 275 READING, mmn = Povell
  3. ^ Brooker, Charlie. "Richard Herring's Leicester Square Podcast". Episode 5. 
  4. ^ a b "Profile: Charlie Brooker". RTS Futures. Royal Television Society. 26 September 2007. Retrieved 16 March 2010. 
  5. ^ Brooker, Charlie (21 August 2011). "Poor A-levels? Don't despair. Just lie on job application forms". The Guardian (UK). Retrieved 4 September 2011. 
  6. ^ Howson, Greg (15 July 2010). "Games (Technology),PC (games),Magazines (Media),Press and publishing,Consumer magazines". The Guardian (London). 
  7. ^ Logged in as click here to log out (30 October 2006). "Brooker's 30 October 2006 column, featuring Ignopedia and TVGoHome". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 16 January 2010. 
  8. ^ "Full text of deleted article". Antinomian.com. 23 October 2004. Retrieved 16 January 2010. 
  9. ^ Close (24 October 2004). "Apology for Brooker's 24 October 2004 Screen Burn column". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 16 January 2010. 
  10. ^ "Brooker's 17 February 2007 column". The Guardian (London). 17 February 2007. Retrieved 16 January 2010. 
  11. ^ Close (16 October 2010). "Charlie Brooker Leaving Screen Burn Column". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 16 October 2010. 
  12. ^ "the anonymous "boss" of TVGOHOME was – as even the most cursory of whois lookups revealed – former PC ZONE misanthrope CHARLIE BROOKER"
  13. ^ "CHARLIE BROOKER, father of TV Go Home"
  14. ^ zeppotron: shows: tv go home
  15. ^ "How to Watch Television". The Art Show. Channel 4. Retrieved 14 December 2011. 
  16. ^ "What Screen / News Wipe looks like from my perspective. on Twitpic". Twitpic.com. Retrieved 16 January 2010. 
  17. ^ "Charlie Brooker gets 'wiped' this Christmas on BBC Four". Endemol UK. Retrieved 4 December 2011. 
  18. ^ "Charlie Brooker's 2011 Wipe". BBC Four. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  19. ^ "Charlie Brooker Tweet". Retrieved 22 December 2012. 
  20. ^ "Charlie Brooker's Weekly Wipe". Radiotimes. Retrieved 25 January 2012. 
  21. ^ McGinley, Sheena (31 January 2013). "Charlie Brooker's Weekly Wipe". entertainment.ie. Retrieved 2 February 2013. 
  22. ^ "Charlie Brooker's Weekly Wipe returns in 2014 after 'end-of-year' special". DigitalSpy. Retrieved 12 December 2013. 
  23. ^ "Charlie Brooker's 2013 Wipe". Retrieved 12 December 2013. 
  24. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCOja6Er-Ck.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  25. ^ Logged in as click here to log out (21 August 2008). "Charlie Brooker's E4 zombie thriller to be set inside the Big Brother house". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 16 January 2010. 
  26. ^ "Brooker to write E4 horror series". BBC News. 14 April 2008. Retrieved 16 January 2010. 
  27. ^ TV review: Dead Set, Leicester Mercury, 28 October 2008
  28. ^ Bafta TV Awards 2009: The winners, BBC, 26 April 2009
  29. ^ "Black Mirror". Channel 4. Retrieved 4 December 2011. 
  30. ^ Crace, John (4 December 2011). "Black Mirror". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 4 December 2011. 
  31. ^ Wollaston, Sam (11 December 2011). "Black Mirror". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 11 December 2011. 
  32. ^ a b "Charlie Brooker: the dark side of our gadget addiction". guardian.co.uk (London). 1 December 2011. Retrieved 17 December 2011. 
  33. ^ "Black Mirror – A new drama from Charlie Brooker". Endemol UK. 11 May 2011. Retrieved 15 November 2011. 
  34. ^ "Black Mirror – Channel 4 – Info – Press". Channel 4. 7 November 2011. Retrieved 6 December 2011. 
  35. ^ A Touch of Cloth
  36. ^ "Channel 4's Alternative Election Night". Channel 4. Retrieved 23 December 2011. 
  37. ^ Brooker, Charlie (10 May 2010). "Political leaks on primetime". The Guardian (London). 
  38. ^ Digital Spy
  39. ^ So Wrong It's Right at the British Comedy Guide
  40. ^ ZEPPOTRON SECURES SECOND SERIES FOR RADIO 4
  41. ^ "Zeppotron's So Wrong It's Right picked up for a third run on BBC Radio 4". Endemol UK. Retrieved 14 March 2012. 
  42. ^ "TV's Huq and Brooker get engaged". BBC News. 9 June 2010. 
  43. ^ Nathan, Sara (9 June 2010). "The most unlikely showbiz wedding? Konnie Huq to marry foul-mouthed Charlie Brooker after whirlwind romance". Daily Mail (London). 
  44. ^ "X Factor's Konnie Huq and Charlie Brooker eloped to Las Vegas for secret wedding – mirror.co.uk". Daily Mirror. UK. Retrieved 29 August 2010. 
  45. ^ "Marriage License, County of Clark, Nevada". Retrieved 30 August 2010. 
  46. ^ Kimberley Dadds (24 March 2012). "'He's a real cutie!' Konnie Huq gives birth to 'gorgeous' baby boy named Covey". London: Mail Online. Retrieved 24 March 2012. 
  47. ^ https://twitter.com/charltonbrooker/status/414129972929105920
  48. ^ https://twitter.com/jonathanshalit/status/439457862788861952
  49. ^ "EXCLUSIVE: Konnie Huq and Charlie Brooker welcome their new baby, a second son, into the world". Daily Mail. 1 March 2014. Retrieved 1 March 2014. 
  50. ^ "Baby joy for Konnie Huq and Charlie Brooker as they welcome second son". Express. 1 March 2014. Retrieved 1 March 2014. 
  51. ^ a b "The Atheist's Guide to Christmas". Atheist Bus Campaign. Retrieved 23 December 2011. 
  52. ^ Brooker, Charlie (15 December 2005). "The Hell of it All by Charlie Brooker (2009)". Waterstones.com. Retrieved 16 January 2010. 

External links[edit]