Black is one of the finest and most unsettling TV shows of recent years, but do we really need a book to show us the strings? Donal O’Donoghue reports
For those of you who may have been living under a rock, Black Mirror is surely one of the smartest and most disturbing TV shows of the 21st Century, a sort of R-rated Twilight Zone, as fan Stephen King has described it. Born on Channel 4, it has truly come into its own on the streaming giant Netflix, which reportedly gave bucket-loads of lucre to creators Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones, and Hollywood names like Jodie Foster (director, Arkangel) and Bryce Dallas Howard (actor, Nosedive) came on board. The word is that a new interactive episode is coming this Christmas. First, though, comes this stocking filler.
I’m not sure what Inside Black Mirror adds to the Big Picture, unless you’re a total BM anorak or one of those people who wants to see how the sausage is made. Hosted by Brooker and Jones, with novelist/screenwriter Jason Arnopp pulling the whole shooting gallery together, the book is a series of conversations about episodes from each of the four seasons, with contributors including Foster, Dallas Howard and Jodie Whittaker. We learn that Rupert Everett refused to remove his mirror-shades while on set to play a Simon Cowelltype judge in Fifteen Million Merits and Dallas Howard reveals how her father, Ron Howard, had a panic attack when they first watched Nosedive together. Brooker used to write a highly original and acidly acerbic TV column, before going from poacher to gamekeeper. It’s hard to imagine what he’d make of this project: vanity, cash-in or both? In his foreword, he concludes with the exhortation to “stop reading this bit of the book and start reading the other bits.” In many ways, you feel like adding stop reading this book and watch the TV series if you haven’t already done so. If you have, then just watch it again. There’s so much more inside Black Mirror than any book could possibly explain, because in some ways it’s about what’s inside each viewer’s head.
* Inside Black Mirror by Charlie Brooker, Annabel Jones and Jason Arnopp (Ebury Press)