Wednesday, November 21, 2007
CURRENT! Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe, BBC2, 11.50pm
Sometimes it's just all about being in the right place, with the perfect combination of speak and subject. The third episode of the most recent series of Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe was an in-depth study of television news, in particular the slight ridiculousness of some 24-hour rolling news channels, and it was so precise, so cutting and most importantly so belt-bustingly funny that it made it impossible for the rest of the series to match it. Even the subsequent episode where Charlie made his own Apprentice-style reality show ("then you'll come back to the boardroom, and one of you is going to get fucked") couldn't live up to the near perfection of the news episode. It's getting a terrestrial run tonight, and we just wouldn't feel right if we didn't draw your attention to it.
Where shows like The Day Today and Broken News satirised the news industry with well-observed spoofs, this focuses on how close news has come to self-parody by using actual news footage instead. Particularly cringeworthy moments include a Sky News presenter announcing the death of Harold Pinter (except he wasn't really dead at all and had in fact just won the Nobel Prize for Literature), and the news broadcast that felt we'd best understand the concept of war if there were a large CGI helicopter in front of the presenters.
Pretty much every broadcaster gets a rough ride of things, although there is a particularly appalling clip of Fox News's Bill O'Reilly that pretty much wins all of the "most terrifying news segment ever" awards. There's also an interesting look back at TV news through the ages. We could carry on about how great this was until the cows come home, so we'll just end by saying that this is one of the funniest, cleverest half-hours of television we've seen all year, and we can't recommend it highly enough.