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Charlie Brooker

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  Summary  

Charlton "Charlie" Brooker is a British journalist, screenwriter and broadcaster. His style of humour is savage and profane, with surreal elements and a consistent satirical pessimism. He presents TV shows Screenwipe, Gameswipe and Newswipe, wrote a review column for The Guardian newspaper and currently writes a comment piece each Monday for The Guardian supplement G2, and is one of four creative directors of comedy production company Zeppotron. His five-part horror drama Dead Set for E4 earned him a nomination for a BAFTA. Brooker won Columnist of the Year at the 2009 British Press Awards for his column, and the Best Newcomer at the British Comedy Awards 2009. He is co-presenter of 10 O'Clock Live on Channel 4, presents the documentary series How TV Ruined Your Life on BBC Two, created the Channel 4 satirical drama trilogy Black Mirror (writing and co-writing Episodes 1 and 2 respectively).

  Biography  

 early life and education
Brooker was born in Reading, Berkshire. He first worked as a writer and cartoonist for Oink!, a comic produced in the late-1980s.

After attending Wallingford School, Brooker attended the Polytechnic of Central London – studying for a BA in Media Studies – he did not graduate because his dissertation was written on video games, which was not an acceptable topic.

 career
 PC Zone
Brooker wrote for PC Zone magazine in the mid-1990s. 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.

 SuperKaylo

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.

 TVGoHome

From 1999 to 2003 he wrote the satirical TVGoHome website, 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.

 Newspaper columns
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. Since late October 2006 this column has been 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.

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

John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley, Jr. – where are you now that we need you?

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

I ended a Screen Burn column by recycling a very old tasteless joke , and within minutes half the internet seemed convinced The Guardian was officially calling for assassination. My inbox overflowed with blood-curdling death threats, and it was all very unfunny indeed – a bit like recounting a rude joke at a dinner party, only to be told you hadn't recounted a joke at all, but molested the host's children, and suddenly everyone was punching you and you weren't going to get any pudding. I've had better weekends.

Brooker left the "Screen Burn" column in 2010. In the final column, 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. Long time covering contributor Grace Dent took over the column from him permanently. He continues to contribute other articles to The Guardian on a regular basis.

 Television
From 1999 to 2000, Brooker played hooded expert 'the Pundit' in 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 Eleven O'Clock Show and a co-host 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. The episode was presented in the style of a public information film and was partly animated, and gave advice on how to view television.

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.

In 2006, Brooker began writing and presenting his signature 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 , 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, 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 present 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 show 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 BBC4 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 BBC4 on 29 September 2009.

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 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. It is in its second series.

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. The telethon was interspersed with contributions from Brooker, some live in the studio but mostly pre-recorded. Notably, an "Election Special" of You Have Been Watching and two smaller segments in an almost identical style to Screenwipe . Brooker described the experience of live television as being so nerve-wracking he "did a piss" during the broadcast. A spin-off series, 10 O'Clock Live, started in January 2011 with the same four hosts.

Brooker's "2010 Wipe", a review of 2010 in the style of Screenwipe/Newswipe/Gameswipe, was broadcast on BBC2 on 27 December 2010, and a new documentary series How TV Ruined Your Life started on BBC 2 on 25 January 2011. He has co-written a feature-length spoof crime drama along with Daniel Maier for Sky1 called A Touch Of Cloth .

In December 2011, Brooker's new darkly satirical 3-part series Black Mirror aired on Channel 4 to largely positive reviews. As well as creating the show, Brooker wrote the first episode and co-wrote the second with his wife Konnie Huq.

Charlie Brooker's 2011 Wipe, an hour-long review show of 2011, was broadcast on BBC Four on 30 December 2011. It is repeated on BBC Two on 3 January 2012.

 Dead Set


Brooker wrote Dead Set, a five part zombie horror thriller for E4 set in the Big Brother house. 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. 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. Dead Set received a BAFTA nomination for Best Drama Serial.

 Radio
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 and Richard Herring. A second series was confirmed, and it began airing on 10 March 2011. In common with Screenwipe's use of a Grandaddy track 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
Brooker became engaged to marry former Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq, after dating for 9 months having met whilst filming an episode of Screenwipe. They married on 26 July 2010 at the Little White Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas. On 15 December 2011 Huq's agent announced a baby boy is expected early in April 2012.

Brooker is an atheist and contributed to The Atheist's Guide to Christmas.

Brooker has become an avid running enthusiast, running for up to an hour every day.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Charlie Brooker", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.