TV Review: Charlie Brooker's Antiviral Wipe, BBC Two

TV Review: Charlie Brooker's Antiviral Wipe, BBC Two

Well at least one good thing has come out of this bloody pandemic. We've got another Wipe. And while this one was filmed under lockdown social distancing conditions it didn't really hit the production in the way it has hit something like the studio-based Mash Report as Wipes always rely on a mix of footage and Charlie "happy birthday twice” Brooker sitting alone. The only difference here was that his desk was made of cardboard.

In fact the irony was that this episode was more lively and sociable than the usual Wipes as we also got to see Brooker's partner Konnie Huq doing her bit to get him through the Black Mirror-esque Covid19. As a veteran Blue Peter presenter (amazingly the longest-ever host, fact fans) she is a dab hand at making masks. Although Brooker was not to keen on the big smile she stitched on his. 

Elsewhere we got fruitful contributions from Barry Shitpeas (Al Campbell) describing the infection curve as the "big dick of doom" and Philomena "My mate Paul" Cunk (Diane Morgan) offering us a piece of her mind on the crisis, even though she could hardly spare it. Cunk's Moments of Wonder interview with a virology specialist was particularly priceless when she suggested shrinking a doctor and injecting them into someone so they could fight the virius hand-to-hand.

Talking of injection if there was one problem with the programme it was that a number of the stories Brooker covered here, such as Donald Trump talking about disinfectant, have already been extensively covered by satirists and social media. And some of the clips had been well-aired, such as the Mitchell and Webb Remain Indoors sketch and Elton John murdering I'm Still Standing in his garden. At least he didn't show the one with the sports commentator and the dogs fighting over a toy bone.

In response to the recent satire overload Brooker had to up his game, which of course he did in spades, describing Chris Whitty as a prematurely aged Tintin, Matt "‘Peter Pandemic" Hancock as "your sister’s first boyfriend with a car” and suggesting that Jamie Oliver's cooking show filmed on an iPhone made it look like the chef was being held hostage in his own kitchen.  

But perhaps the weirdest moment of all came at the end, when Brooker broke into a monologue that was so unexpectedly earnest he even put on a hat with the word "Earnest" on it just to show he wasn't joking. Brooker explained that he had seen so many dystopian dramas when he was growing up he had expected to see society collapse into anarchy as soon as there was a shortage of toilet rolls. Instead we had started to pull together and support each other. He celebrated the fact that there had been a major breakout of unity in society in the last couple of months.

So maybe there was hope for us after all. Not even Black Mirror could have predicted that.

Picture: Matt Holyoak

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