If there was ever a line which would sum up Charlie Brooker’s television persona perfectly, it would be one from his very own article on the 2004 US Presidential Elections and George Bush – “John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley, Jr. – where are you now that we need you?”
The line created much controversy and The Guardian ending up withdrawing the piece and Brooker had to apologise to the public, however, this wouldn’t be the only time his work would create furor.
His first steps into satirical television would come as one of the writers involved in the paedophilia episode of Chris Morris’ Brass Eye – You can already get a sense that his on-screen personality will be the polar opposite of his wife’s, who is, former Blue Peter presenter, Konnie Huq, in a union that sounds like an ironic joke from one of his more recent dark comedies.
Brooker’s latest work, Weekly Wipe, is a variation of the first tv show that he written and presented, Screenwipe, which reviewed and mocked most things that are shown on the old picture box, and how it is made.
A lot of his shows from these series have followed a similar format in which he uses a mixture of sketches he has created himself and footage from the news and/or from television, which he talks over making sarcastic and cynical observations and jokes.
Here is a clip of him showing us how reality tv shows such as Big Brother are made:
Another reason I have used that clip is that he uses a word, albeit in jest, that sums up one of his characteristics nicely in “misanthropic”. This of course, means that he has a dislike of people, but I feel it runs deeper, with him also disliking their behaviour, as it is pretty much what Weekly Wipe is now based upon.
Other words I can use to describe his characteristics and his tone of voice on his shows are that he is grumpy, very cynical, blunt, brutally honest, sarcastic and at times very aggressive and borderline offensive to some.
One of his most recent and best examples of these qualities is this clip where he gives his opinion on the recent horse meat scandal:
One aspect of his characteristic I particularly enjoy is that he sometimes doesn’t hold a bias and sits in the centre of contrasting opinions; An example of this is his opinion the Rebecca Black story on his Channel 4 alternative to the 10 o’clock news, 10 O’Clock Live, in which he mildly pokes fun at her but then does a full 180 degree turn and has a go at the people on Twitter who are sending her abuse, and sticks up for her in an equally comedic fashion:
In the shows I have mentioned, as well as having pretty much the same format, he also uses the same body language.
For the vast majority of the time on Weekly Wipe, he is either behind a mocked up news desk, behind which he sits in a manner which almost parodies the average news reader, due to the fact that he slouches and looks more relaxed, rather than sitting up straight. He also does this on 10 O’Clock Live.
There are also times where he is sitting on a sofa in a mock up living room which is used during his sketches when it is switching between him and the subject he is mocking, which you can see put to good use in the horse meat scandal clip I have referred to earlier. Here, he is sitting forward in his chair in a manner which makes it look like he is ready to throw some sort of sarcastic retort at a television program he is “watching”.
The reason that Brooker and his shows have been so popular for the good part of a decade now, is that he comes across as very real when presenting,without sugar coating his views or caring about censors, which is usually the main reason you never see him on screen before watershed.
Another reason will also be the fact that he is just doing what the average British person who is frustrated with the rubbish which is regularly regurgitated upon us via the television does while at home, only ten times funnier.
This has been my review of Charlie Brooker’s presenting style, and in the manner the man famously concludes his show – “Go away!”.