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Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker reveals scrapped scene that brought back old characters – The Independent

Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker reveals scrapped scene that brought back old characters – The Independent

12 January 2019 MUSIC


Black Mirror co-creator Charlie Brooker has revealed he scrapped a scene that would have seen the return of key characters. 

The writer told The Independent how the moment, originally featured in series three episode “Playtest”, would have been interactively “unlocked” by viewers watching for a second time. 

He explained how the scene in question inspired a twist that almost featured in Bandersnatch, the choose-your-own-adventure film that was released on Netflix in December.

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“At one point, there was a bit where it was going to explain to [Fionn Whitehead’s Bandersnatch character] Stefan that he was in Black Mirror, but weirdly that was an idea we’d had a while ago,” he said. 

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“I remember pitching this to Netflix for “Playtest”, which was one of the reasons they called us in about the interactive stuff,” he continued. “Basically, if you went back to watch the episode a second time, it would have unlocked nightmare mode.”

Brooker detailed how characters from classic episodes “White Bear” and “Fifteen Million Merits” would have returned.

“In the scene where Cooper, the character played by Wyatt Russell, is going mad in the house, there was originally a bit where he literally discovers he’s a character in an episode of Black Mirror, and he’s told what it is and he’s shown characters from other episodes who are there in the house with him. There was a bit where he went in and he saw Victoria Spillane from “White Bear”, and he found himself in one of the rooms from “Fifteen Million Merits”.” 

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1/20

                Click through for our ranking of every Black Mirror episode to date

2/20 “The Waldo Moment”

Series two, episode three

While supremely prescient in predicting how a pop-culture figure would one day find themselves unwittingly in a place of political power, “The Waldo Moment” lacks the bite of other episodes. The pacing is cumbersome, and the bleak ending for Daniel Rigby’s failed comedian feels slightly extra.

                Channel 4

3/20 “Crocodile”

Series four, episode three

A new insurance company innovation allows access to people’s memories – much to the dismay of Andrea Riseborough’s Mia, who witnesses an accident but has much darker things to hide. Riseborough is typically excellent, but Mia’s behaviour is jarringly inconsistent throughout.

                Netflix

4/20 “Arkangel”

Series four, episode two

When an overly fearful mother (Rosemarie DeWitt) resorts to drastic measures in order to keep her daughter safe, things inevitably unravel. Quite how far they unravel is the greatest weakness of a lacklustre episode, despite being directed with vigour by Jodie Foster.

                Netflix

5/20 “Men Against Fire”

Series three, episode five

The show’s longest outing, after the just-released Bandersnatch, “Hated in the Nation” is Brooker’s answer to Scandi Noir dramas such as The Killing. But its murder mystery plot, involving killer drone insects, fails to reach the heights it aspires to.

                Netflix

6/20 “Hated in the Nation”

Series 3, episode six

The show’s longest outing, after the just-released Bandersnatch, “Hated in the Nation” is Brooker’s answer to Scandi Noir dramas such as The Killing. But its murder mystery plot, involving killer drone insects, fails to reach the heights it aspires to.

                Netflix

7/20 “Playtest”

Series three, episode four

There’s fun to be had in the augmented reality chiller “Playtest”, an episode following an American man (Wyatt Russell) who accepts a one-time, rather bizarre, job offer from a video game company. An often thrilling instalment, that ultimately fails to live up to its brilliant potential.

                Netflix

8/20 “Nosedive”

Series three, episode one

A phenomenal team came together for the first Netflix-produced episode: star Bryce Dallas Howard, director Joe Wright and The Good Place creator Michael Schur. The result is expansive, expensive-looking – and strangely soulless. The world it presents, however, is scarily plausible: people must rate each other from one to five at every single interaction in a bid to improve social standing.

                Netflix

9/20 “The National Anthem”

Series one, episode one

Could this be the most audacious first episode of any TV series? “The National Anthem” is a wonderfully twisted opener, a satirical comment on the terrifying power of social media via a grim story about a Prime Minister forced to have sex with a pig live on television. It set the Black Mirror blueprint perfectly.

                Channel 4

10/20 “Black Museum”

Series 2, episode 3

Letitia Wright leads this unique episode, which irresistibly contains references to every other Black Mirror outing to date. With it’s B-movie thrills and body horror sub-plot, this is the closest the series has come to a Hammer House of Horror film.

                Netflix

11/20 “Shut Up and Dance”

                 Series three, episode three >p?

This episode follows a teenage boy (Alex Lawther) who is blackmailed into committing criminal acts by a mysterious hacker. Featuring arguably the show’s most distressing twist, “Shut Up and Dance” may not make for enjoyable television, but it’s a slickly-written marvel that gets under your skin.

                Netflix

12/20 “White Bear”

Series two, episode two

This episode follows an amnesiac girl who wakes up in a post-apocalyptic wasteland pursued by weapon-wielding assailants; silent bystanders watch on, disturbingly recording events on their mobile phones. “White Bear” feels like a nightmare come to life, but it’s a gripping one, subverting your expectations every 15 minutes.

                Channel 4

13/20 “Fifteen Million Merits”

Series one, episode two

Every season of Black Mirror has one episode that yanks at the heartstrings, and “Fifteen Million Merits” was its first. The love story of a man (Daniel Kaluuya) and a woman (Jessica Brown Findlay) doomed to generate power on stationary bicycles for an unspecified amount of time, it presents a bleak outlook for the future of game shows. Brooker at his most Orwellian.

                Channel 4

14/20 “Metalhead”

Series 4, episode five

This take on the stalk-and-slash genre makes for Black Mirror’s most intense viewing experience. The camera remains right there alongside Maxine Peake’s nameless protagonist, alienated from the rest of civilisation as she’s hunted by a robotic assassin for no apparent reason. Terrifying stuff.

                Jonathan Prime / Netflix

15/20 “Hang the DJ”

Series 2, episode 3

With its uplifting story of two lovers fighting against the odds to be with each other, “Hang the DJ” is a season four equivalent of the uplifting “San Junipero”. Georgina Campbell and Joe Cole offer magnetic performances as Amy and Frank, who are trapped in a Centre Parcs-style holiday resort. As the ending draws near, the episode suggests that love can triumph over the most difficult circumstances.

                Netflix

16/20 “White Christmas”

Series two, episode four

Black Mirror
went full
Twilight Zone for its festive episode, an anthology treat featuring several short tales linked by what could perhaps be Brooker’s most disturbing technological invention yet – a device that permits you to “block” people from your life. Jon Hamm and Rafe Spall are excellent as a storytelling duo stationed at a remote outpost in the middle of a snowy wilderness.

                Channel 4

17/20 “Be Right Back”

Series two, episode one

Hayley Atwell’s performance as a grief-stricken widow in this acclaimed outing is faultless, while Domhnall Gleeson’s robotic recreation of her husband (like some hellish combination of the Scarlett Johansson’s AI from Her and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein) joins the pantheon of great sci-fi robots. It came as no surprise that its director, Owen Harris, was brought back to direct the “San Junipero” episode a season later.

                Channel 4

18/20 “USS Callister”

Series four, episode one

Brooker basks in his own nerdiness in this glorious Star Trek-inspired tale that’s brilliantly conceived and executed. Using the DNA of his colleagues to create virtual avatars who believe themselves to be real, Jesse Plemons’s character makes for the entire series’s creepiest villain – partly because of how sorry for him you feel at the beginning of the episode, before clocking his sadistic ways.

                Netflix

19/20 “San Junipero”

Series three, episode four

t’s still all too rare for a queer love story on screen to have a happy ending – and rarer still for a Black Mirror episode. And yet the tender San Junipero, which sees two women fall in love in a seaside town that naturally isn’t quite what it seems, is a rare instance of optimism from Brooker’s generally fatalistic imagination, and we can’t help but love it for that. By the time Belinda Carlisle’s “Heave Is a Place on Earth” plays over the end credits, you’ll be doing something no other episode can make you do: smiling.

                Netflix

20/20 “The Entire History of You”

Series one, episode three

This episode often tops the list when discussing best Black Mirror episodes, and for good reason. It was the first to put Brooker’s spin on disturbed technological advancements to truly devastating effect, tracking the dissolution of a marriage (of Toby Kebbell and Jodie Whittaker) in a world where memories can be re-lived as easily as switching on a television. It’s the presence of Tom Cullen’s charismatic male that causes Kebbell’s character to frantically pore over every part of his wife’s behaviour, convincing himself she’s had an affair. Where other Black Mirror episodes introduce expansive worlds, this places the action in the most relatable of settings – the home – and is all the more disturbing for it. Essential viewing.

                Channel 4

1/20

                Click through for our ranking of every Black Mirror episode to date

2/20 “The Waldo Moment”

Series two, episode three

While supremely prescient in predicting how a pop-culture figure would one day find themselves unwittingly in a place of political power, “The Waldo Moment” lacks the bite of other episodes. The pacing is cumbersome, and the bleak ending for Daniel Rigby’s failed comedian feels slightly extra.

                Channel 4

3/20 “Crocodile”

Series four, episode three

A new insurance company innovation allows access to people’s memories – much to the dismay of Andrea Riseborough’s Mia, who witnesses an accident but has much darker things to hide. Riseborough is typically excellent, but Mia’s behaviour is jarringly inconsistent throughout.

                Netflix

4/20 “Arkangel”

Series four, episode two

When an overly fearful mother (Rosemarie DeWitt) resorts to drastic measures in order to keep her daughter safe, things inevitably unravel. Quite how far they unravel is the greatest weakness of a lacklustre episode, despite being directed with vigour by Jodie Foster.

                Netflix

5/20 “Men Against Fire”

Series three, episode five

The show’s longest outing, after the just-released Bandersnatch, “Hated in the Nation” is Brooker’s answer to Scandi Noir dramas such as The Killing. But its murder mystery plot, involving killer drone insects, fails to reach the heights it aspires to.

                Netflix

6/20 “Hated in the Nation”

Series 3, episode six

The show’s longest outing, after the just-released Bandersnatch, “Hated in the Nation” is Brooker’s answer to Scandi Noir dramas such as The Killing. But its murder mystery plot, involving killer drone insects, fails to reach the heights it aspires to.

                Netflix

7/20 “Playtest”

Series three, episode four

There’s fun to be had in the augmented reality chiller “Playtest”, an episode following an American man (Wyatt Russell) who accepts a one-time, rather bizarre, job offer from a video game company. An often thrilling instalment, that ultimately fails to live up to its brilliant potential.

                Netflix

8/20 “Nosedive”

Series three, episode one

A phenomenal team came together for the first Netflix-produced episode: star Bryce Dallas Howard, director Joe Wright and The Good Place creator Michael Schur. The result is expansive, expensive-looking – and strangely soulless. The world it presents, however, is scarily plausible: people must rate each other from one to five at every single interaction in a bid to improve social standing.

                Netflix

9/20 “The National Anthem”

Series one, episode one

Could this be the most audacious first episode of any TV series? “The National Anthem” is a wonderfully twisted opener, a satirical comment on the terrifying power of social media via a grim story about a Prime Minister forced to have sex with a pig live on television. It set the Black Mirror blueprint perfectly.

                Channel 4

10/20 “Black Museum”

Series 2, episode 3

Letitia Wright leads this unique episode, which irresistibly contains references to every other Black Mirror outing to date. With it’s B-movie thrills and body horror sub-plot, this is the closest the series has come to a Hammer House of Horror film.

                Netflix

11/20 “Shut Up and Dance”

                 Series three, episode three >p?

This episode follows a teenage boy (Alex Lawther) who is blackmailed into committing criminal acts by a mysterious hacker. Featuring arguably the show’s most distressing twist, “Shut Up and Dance” may not make for enjoyable television, but it’s a slickly-written marvel that gets under your skin.

                Netflix

12/20 “White Bear”

Series two, episode two

This episode follows an amnesiac girl who wakes up in a post-apocalyptic wasteland pursued by weapon-wielding assailants; silent bystanders watch on, disturbingly recording events on their mobile phones. “White Bear” feels like a nightmare come to life, but it’s a gripping one, subverting your expectations every 15 minutes.

                Channel 4

13/20 “Fifteen Million Merits”

Series one, episode two

Every season of Black Mirror has one episode that yanks at the heartstrings, and “Fifteen Million Merits” was its first. The love story of a man (Daniel Kaluuya) and a woman (Jessica Brown Findlay) doomed to generate power on stationary bicycles for an unspecified amount of time, it presents a bleak outlook for the future of game shows. Brooker at his most Orwellian.

                Channel 4

14/20 “Metalhead”

Series 4, episode five

This take on the stalk-and-slash genre makes for Black Mirror’s most intense viewing experience. The camera remains right there alongside Maxine Peake’s nameless protagonist, alienated from the rest of civilisation as she’s hunted by a robotic assassin for no apparent reason. Terrifying stuff.

                Jonathan Prime / Netflix

15/20 “Hang the DJ”

Series 2, episode 3

With its uplifting story of two lovers fighting against the odds to be with each other, “Hang the DJ” is a season four equivalent of the uplifting “San Junipero”. Georgina Campbell and Joe Cole offer magnetic performances as Amy and Frank, who are trapped in a Centre Parcs-style holiday resort. As the ending draws near, the episode suggests that love can triumph over the most difficult circumstances.

                Netflix

16/20 “White Christmas”

Series two, episode four

Black Mirror
went full
Twilight Zone for its festive episode, an anthology treat featuring several short tales linked by what could perhaps be Brooker’s most disturbing technological invention yet – a device that permits you to “block” people from your life. Jon Hamm and Rafe Spall are excellent as a storytelling duo stationed at a remote outpost in the middle of a snowy wilderness.

                Channel 4

17/20 “Be Right Back”

Series two, episode one

Hayley Atwell’s performance as a grief-stricken widow in this acclaimed outing is faultless, while Domhnall Gleeson’s robotic recreation of her husband (like some hellish combination of the Scarlett Johansson’s AI from Her and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein) joins the pantheon of great sci-fi robots. It came as no surprise that its director, Owen Harris, was brought back to direct the “San Junipero” episode a season later.

                Channel 4

18/20 “USS Callister”

Series four, episode one

Brooker basks in his own nerdiness in this glorious Star Trek-inspired tale that’s brilliantly conceived and executed. Using the DNA of his colleagues to create virtual avatars who believe themselves to be real, Jesse Plemons’s character makes for the entire series’s creepiest villain – partly because of how sorry for him you feel at the beginning of the episode, before clocking his sadistic ways.

                Netflix

19/20 “San Junipero”

Series three, episode four

t’s still all too rare for a queer love story on screen to have a happy ending – and rarer still for a Black Mirror episode. And yet the tender San Junipero, which sees two women fall in love in a seaside town that naturally isn’t quite what it seems, is a rare instance of optimism from Brooker’s generally fatalistic imagination, and we can’t help but love it for that. By the time Belinda Carlisle’s “Heave Is a Place on Earth” plays over the end credits, you’ll be doing something no other episode can make you do: smiling.

                Netflix

20/20 “The Entire History of You”

Series one, episode three

This episode often tops the list when discussing best Black Mirror episodes, and for good reason. It was the first to put Brooker’s spin on disturbed technological advancements to truly devastating effect, tracking the dissolution of a marriage (of Toby Kebbell and Jodie Whittaker) in a world where memories can be re-lived as easily as switching on a television. It’s the presence of Tom Cullen’s charismatic male that causes Kebbell’s character to frantically pore over every part of his wife’s behaviour, convincing himself she’s had an affair. Where other Black Mirror episodes introduce expansive worlds, this places the action in the most relatable of settings – the home – and is all the more disturbing for it. Essential viewing.

                Channel 4

He confesses he scrapped the idea as he feared it would be “a bit indulgent.”

“I literally wrote those scenes and then was like: ”F***, that’s gonna be impossible. Let’s not do that,’” he said.

You can read the full interview here.

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