A friend and I once came up with something called "The 98% rule"
, which states that 98% of things - especially people - aren't worth bothering about. Instead, you should celebrate and cherish the 2% you find worthwhile. So whilst the majority of television these days is made up of a tired mish-mash of soaps, panel shows, reality shows and programmes about professionals, amateurs, celebrities or children that can cook, that when something different comes along, it's worth celebrating the 2% originality. Step forward Charlie Brooker, whose wonderfully warped Black Mirror series returns for a three episode run this week. Brooker's been gathering momentum for well over a decade now, and has remained one of the most original and entertaining writers, commentators and presenters in the UK. Here's my list of his 10 finest moments...
The Brooker entry point (that already sounds like a late night drama series) for me was this TV listings spoof that ran online at the end of the last century (God, I feel old). Not a massively original concept - the Pythons were knocking stuff out like that in the late '60s -but Brooker's mix of parody and lunacy was - and still remains - a bonkers hoot, and a surprisingly accurate glimpse into the future. A typical mix of entries run from simple messing about with films like "Ken Loach's Tron" or "Stephen Hendry and the Temple of Doom" - snooker-themed remake of the acclaimed Spielberg blockbuster, to high-concept titles that are just the right side of real Channel 5 programmes such as "Let's Run Cornwall: Week 3 - Truro Licencing Regulations" and "Chicken Wizard Tee Hee Hee - Paranormal Poultry Fun." A lot of it was incredibly sweary (so tread carefully before you visit the pages
) and often featured newsreader Peter Sissons ("Metal Gear Solid News: Peter Sissons hides behind a pillar and attempts to whisper all the latest current affairs stories without alerting a nearby guard") but the frequency and quantity of the gags meant that if you didn't find something funny, there was always something further down the page like "I Nuh Nuh Nuh Know What You Duh Duh Duh Duh Duh Duh Duh Did Last Suh Suh Suh Suh Suh Suh Suh Summer: Gory Horror. A group of teenagers fall victim to a hook-wielding maniac with an appalling speech impediment." The site spawned Nathan Barley (more of which to come) and a highlights book was published that built on the content with fake adverts, and an entire Daily Mail section featuring the problem of asylum immigrant ducks. A quick-fire spin off TV show was made for E4, but the beauty really layon the printed page. After a few years, Brooker found that real TV shows were getting so ridiculous, that they could have featured on the tvgohome pages, and brought the updates to an end. He cited real show Touch the Truck, where contestants could win a truck if they kept touching it for days on end, as the watershed mark. Still, we had a good few years to enjoy it and it was completely free. Genius Moment:
"1:55pm Booty Whoop! Obnoxious dating fun as an audience of Dunstable youths are prodded round a lurid television studio and encouraged to yelp, wave and holler like foghorn-gobbed American teenagers, while the hosts cheerfully bully them into French-kissing one another." I think Brooker needs to get some royalties from the makers of Take Me Out and The Love Machine.