Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Christmas special of Black Mirror – Charlie Brooker’s dystopian anthology series exploring the most disturbingly advanced tech since "sex with Google Glass" became a thing – was the yuletide equivalent of a sentient machine storming your living room and tearing down your Christmas tree... and then decapitating the angel on top.
Last week we caught a preview of the feature-length special – which aired on Channel 4 tonight and stars Jon Hamm, Rafe Spall and Oona Chaplin – with Brooker himself on hand to offer us his very own commentary on the episode’s stand-out moments.
On the episode’s final moment:
“The final image of having a man forced to spend 1,000 years a minute trapped in a hellish snow globe experiencing Christmas, while seeing a child he’s inadvertently caused the death of, is maybe not the most festive feeling imaginable – but it’s not as bleak as whatever the fuck EastEnders is going to be.”
On dystopia versus reality:
“We’re a long way off being able to extract confessions from people via a bug – but, then again, maybe we're not. The new Amazon Echo isn't a million miles away from what happens to Oona Chaplin’s character in the middle story.”
On the episode’s extended running time:
“In all of the Black Mirror episodes, there’s usually a logical conceit I’m trying to disguise – in this, there were about five twists going on at the same time. It’s been really exciting watching it being put together. As we were sitting on the set, me and Annabel (Jones, series producer) were whispering, ‘It’s like Black Mirror: The Movie!’”
On the episode’s changes from the original draft:
“In the very first draft, Oona’s character had kids and when the bug sees herself asleep on the bed, she originally saw herself playing with her own son – and it was immediately too horrible. She’s just screaming for her children and I was like ‘Fucking hell.’”
On Oona Chaplin's story:
“It’s certainly a parable in which you effectively see a consumer gliding through her life with little thought to the price that’s being paid by a super intelligent version of herself. I suppose I’m quite interested in what constitutes a real person."
"I approached it as a fascinating idea that if you took a USB stick out of your head that had copied your brain into it and put it into another environment, it would believe it was you – and it is you – but it also isn’t.”
On Wizzard's "I Wish It Could be Christmas Everyday":
“I thought it was a fun dark joke on the ubiquity of Christmas music to have a guy trapped listening to a song that he couldn’t switch off for a 1,000 years. Once you unpack what’s happening to him there, it’s fucking awful. I'm not bored of Wizzard though – I quite like that song.”
On approaching ideas for new episodes:
“I think of the worst thing that can happen and then I write it down. I guess I just watch the news and soak up what’s happening – Black Mirror is not an anti-tech show, but it is a worried show. I’m not a glass-half-empty type of person, I’m a who's-going-to pick-up-that-glass-and-smash-it-over-my-fucking-face? type of person."
"But it's all in the ether – stuff we’ll be grappling with at some stage. Often, I’m just reacting to something and praying it fucking entertains.”
Black Mirror: White Christmas is now available to watch on 4oD