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TV: Caustic Charlie Brooker returns to our screens with BBC 2's Weekly Wipe

By Weekend  |  Posted: January 07, 2014

By Weekend

  • Caustic Charlie Brooker returns to our screens with BBC 2's Weekly Wipe

  • Konnie Huq and Charlie Brooker

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He may have married a former Blue Peter presenter and settled down into fatherhood, but Charlie Brooker is still as furious as ever - and he's ready to tell the world about it, says Eleanor Ross, as Weekly Wipe returns to our screens.

Charlie Brooker is a man best known for his caustic observational skills and acerbically funny yet dark scripts, such as the media satire Nathan Barley, Black Mirror (described by Channel 4 as a 'twisted parable for the Twitter generation') and Dead Set, a series about zombies set in the Big Brother house.

A man who's never shied away from exploring the dark side of life, it came as a bit of a surprise to some when he married former Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq in 2010.

They're now expecting their second child, a younger sibling for their toddler son, Covey. Family life hasn't mellowed him however.

"There's still a lot to be angry about," says the writer and broadcaster, who worked as a TV critic for the Guardian's Guide for a decade until 2010.

He has had to change the way he gets angry though. "You get tired rather than mellowed," he explains.

"You're just walking around and instead of clenching your fists and furiously throwing plates, you just get slightly weepy and despairing."

Brooker, who describes himself as a neurotic parent, has always felt incensed over the state of the planet, something that's only become more pronounced since becoming a father. "The world is like somebody's left something just dangling over the edge of the shelf. It's 360-degree exasperation," says the 42-year-old.

"The older you get, the more you realise that we're just doomed to be these fallible beasts who have the same foibles we did 2000 years ago."

Another obsession is the Internet. Putting his career down to a series of incredibly lucky breaks, he notes these wouldn't have happened were it not for the meteoric rise of the online world - but that doesn't stop him being annoyed by it.

"I started doing the website TV Go Home (www.gohometv.com) at about the same time people were starting to get really excited about being online," he explains. "But now the Internet's not somewhere you'd want to walk alone.

"It's terrifyingly angry. You wouldn't want to go out in it unless you were in a gang."

He expresses particular frustration with how affected people seem to be by the smallest things these days, and we only need to look at the reviews on the App Store to see how angry and suppressed people are.

"There are games that might cost 69p and then underneath there are always people saying, 'This f**king thing didn't work properly. It was too short. I completed it in two weeks.'

"I just read these reviews and think, 'What is wrong with people?' There's anger and then there's moronic anger."

He wonders whether we'd actually be a lot more furious if the Internet didn't exist, though... "Maybe it is serving some sort of weird purpose, where people are just letting out gas, and if the Internet wasn't there, there would be more mass murders."

Despite his frustrations, Brooker feels pity for the younger generation, who are constantly policed on Twitter and other social networking sites, and questions how they're going to cope when it comes to applying for jobs, because young people are constantly being judged on something they did or said online.

"We need to be more forgiving of people's abilities to f**k up. Everyone says stupid things, and the last thing there needs to be is photographic evidence of themselves throwing up in a bin 10 years ago."

Perhaps a Nelson Mandela-like figure might come in handy to regulate the online realm, he muses. "Not Internet regulation, just somebody spreading peace and love among users."

Brooker will be casting his caustic eye over news, film, TV and Twitter when his show, Charlie Brooker's Weekly Wipe, returns to screens this month.

There will be the usual reports from American misanthrope and comedian Doug Stanhope, taking on subjects from America's reputation for violence to immigration in the six-part series.

The show's own talking heads and TV critics Philomena Cunk and Barry Shitpeas will also be back with their very individual perspective on the week's unmissable telly.

"There's no point just putting in the same thing everyone else is showing. It only makes Weekly Wipe if we can put a different slant on it," says Brooker.

Although Weekly Wipe doesn't shy away from featuring notable figures like Chris Huhne and Russell Brand, Brooker finds comic public figures difficult to cover.

"There's a problem with hilarious public figures. Godfrey Bloom is a bit like a performing bear. He's so comic in himself that we don't really have anywhere to go with it. Boris Johnson is just like a pre-watershed version of Bloom. The news treats them like comedy relief, so other than just showing clips of him there's nothing we can really do."

Weekly Wipe aside, Brooker hints that he's engaged with more writing projects.

"I'm working on dramas and comedies and juggling lots of different things, none of which I'm in. I think that's the way everything's heading," he says.

One thing's for sure, his rage is sure to continue well into 2014. "There's a phenomenal amount of things to get angry about," Brooker concludes.

"Maybe the solution is just for a massive asteroid to come and wipe the entire planet out."

EXTRA TIME - CHARLIE BROOKER

* Charlie Brooker was born in Reading, Berkshire, on March 3, 1971.

* During the early days of his career, he worked as a writer and cartoonist for a comic called Oink! in the late Eighties.

* He began dating Konnie Huq after she appeared on an episode of his series Screenwipe. They got engaged nine months later and married in Las Vegas in July 2010.

* Brooker's an atheist and contributed to the 2009 book The Atheist's Guide To Christmas, compiled by a variety of celebrity non-believers.

* His accolades include three British Comedy Awards and Columnist of the Year at the 2009 British Press Awards, for his Guardian articles.

* Charlie Brooker's Weekly Wipe begins on BBC Two on Thursday, January 9

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