• 7/21/2006 12:01:00 am
  • By Mark Gibbings-Jones

BrokenTV was any good, had more than a cursory amount of effort put into it, was on television, and was allowed to use all of it's favourite music in the background (Vitalic: check, a track from the new Grandaddy album: check, the wonderful Summer Overture from Clint Mansell's Requiem For A Dream soundtrack album: check), it'd still be only 17% as good as Charlie Brooker's Screen Wipe. Although it would have the exact same music used in the background.

Ooh, hark at mister grumpy.

As possibly the most heavily trailed new entertainment offering from BBC Four since The Thick Of It, the new series of Screen Wipe seems to have a lot to live up to. Luckily, now there's no threat of his jokes having been stolen by Harry Hill five days earlier, Charlie is in fine form for the new (or, if you will, first proper) series of Screen Burn.

Railing against shit adverts via spaz noises or sniping at inappropriately gruesome daytime television, even though we'd imagine most of the BBC Four audience (and BrokenTV, for that matter) are busy working (or, are crammed into an office trying to surreptitiously read the previous evenings' The Fiver while no-one is looking, if you're us*) might not seem like Quality Entertainment, but as we were still trying to recover from the shock that Time Trumpet might not be as great as we're really hoping it is (in fact - whisper it - only the Adam Buxton and Stewart Lee bits even made us smile. Oh dear), it had us grinning like, erm, The Laughing Cavalier (as you can tell, the repeat of QI in between the two softened the blow).

By the time the ace featurette about the rigmarole involved in filming the ex-BBC Knowledge presenter falling off a log had finished, we were even prepared to forgive the BBC for Annually Retentive. WE LIKED IT THAT MUCH. Tack on wonderfully sarcastic and mad-captioned biographies of minor television personalities like Jeremy Kyle, critiques of Doctor Who from the perspective of someone who dearly loves the show, and a lengthily misanthropic rant about bee-yoo-ti-ful people on rubbish television to the strains of Clint Mansell, and we're in TV heaven. It's like seeing someone from the same year in school as yourself doing tremendously well for themselves in the exact same career field that you've already secretly longed to be a part of but ended up packing chicken carcasses into plastic boxes for a living instead, only without the wanting to stab them in the neck.

There are things that might not appeal to everyone. Brooker's presenter patter often seems oddly stilted when he's talking on-screen, but never when on voice-only duty. And we'd imagine his permasneering face will rile people who'd prefer to see Marcus Brigstocke reading an autocue in front of a tiny studio audience in yet another lacklustre stab at 'be'ing The Daily Show, but y'know, fuck 'em. Screen Wipe is ace. If he can rein in the ironical 'c-list TV berk yelling at minion' routines a bit more this time, this will be in our top five television programmes of the year.

By the way: we liked him first. We thought his strips for Oink! were ace, his PC Zone scribblings were second only to the mighty Sir Duncan MacDonald, we were big fans of Super "Not Suitable For Minors. Or Cunts" Kaylo back when the internet was steam powered and you had to actually pay money for half-decent web browsers, we reckon Nathan Barley was criminally underrated (yes, genuinely), his G2 column distracts us from completing the quick crossword every Friday, and heck, we're even prepared to pretend he never really contributed to The 11 O'Clock Show and that it was all an excuse to pick fights with people on the SOTCAA Forum. We even remember when one of his cartoons won the Star Letter in a copy of Your Sinclair. And even the TV version of TVGoHome wasn't all bad. Late Developers was still rubbish, mind. So take that, all you only-liked-him-since-TVGoHome-website twerps.

Of course, the fact he was out there doing all that while we were merely to-varying-degrees admiring his output is probably why he's the one on BBC Four ironically pretending to be a bitter loner railing against current TV offerings while dressed as a tramp, while BrokenTV... oh.

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