Charlie Brooker’s relationship with TV has been a varied one which includes creating his own spoof listings website (TVgohome.com), writing witty and frequently spot-on reviews for The Guardian, before becoming part of the institution by penning his own series’ (Nathan Barley and Dead Set) and co-founding a production company, Zeppotron.
His latest venture You Have Been Watching (from Zeppotron) sees paedophile walrus face himself front a panel show about his favourite subject with the questions thrown at a bunch of famous faces. But to refer to this as a quiz show is somewhat of a misrepresentation as it is merely an excuse for a group of people to talk and make jokes about the week’s television. Even Brooker admitted in the conclusion to the second episode that the quiz element is just bolted on and the points are meaningless.
Brooker and co. on the Michael Jackson Memorial Service
By taking out the actual score tally and the uber-competitive nature the focus is very much on trying to be the funniest. That’s why Mock The Week is good and Question of Sport is rubbish. Even QI with its crazy points for being interesting rather than correct system gives leeway for comedic input in between the useful facts.
Although there is no set order of events You Have Been Watching follows the tried and tested formula of passing scorn on television, on television. Following on from the first episode of Mock The Week the main topic for discussion was the death of Michael Jackson, or more accurately the memorial service that was broadcast all over the world.
Much fun was made at the sheer absurdity of the proceedings, described by Brooker as “bullsh*t Olympics”, but this paled in comparison to footage of an ITN News web video that pit the Jacko service against the Lady Diana funeral in a sick play-off by scoring them on celebrity guests and bling factor of the coffins. Suddenly Frankie Boyle’s jokes don’t sound so bad.
Charlie Brooker’s Character Assassination of Nicky Campbell
The quality of guest two episodes in has been good with James Hetfield lookalike Rufus Hound, toothbrush – not Hilter – moustachioed Richard Herring, Josie Long and the ever reliable Frank Skinner, who appears to be doing the rounds on all the panel shows at the moment. More of them and less of the Grace Dents and Jamelias for the future.
The centrepoint however is very much the host but he’s always on fine form for a hilarious expletive filled rant – his character assassination of media antichrist Nicky Campbell was worth tuning in for alone. There was a surprise as Torchwood, a favourite target for his rage, was praised for its Children of Earth series by going from Scooby Doo adventure to depressingly bleak as it advanced. The programme summaries echo Brooker’s BBC Four review watsit Screenwipe in both style and content, again not a bad thing.
Pushing an hour it does look like a stretch but the time does dissolve away very quickly, the Michael Jackson section was 20 minutes long and felt half that. If there’s any changes to be made it’s for Channel 4 Comedy to find a new sponsor. The ‘3’ ad before and after the breaks where a stupidly annoying young stand-up spews out terrible one-liners is almost enough to give up watching the googlebox altogether.