Desert Island Discs: Black Mirror’s Charlie Brooker on his ‘goofy’ persona

Charlie Brooker Radio 4


Charlie Brooker is the latest Desert Island Discs castaway

Charlie Brooker says people are surprised to meet him in real life – as he’s not the “horrible deadpan sarcastic monster” they see on TV.

Satirist and writer Brooker revealed he’s “goofier and more awkward” than many people think.

The Black Mirror creator told Kirsty Young on Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs that he adopts a “comic persona”.

His song choices were influenced by his love of video games, his worries about the world and being an insomniac.

‘Less certain of opinions’

Appearing as a castaway on the long-running radio show, he said: “It’s become clear as I do more of the ‘Wipe’ shows that it is a comic persona I adopt, which is a world-weary cynic who will almost say anything and is bitterly angry and will say incredibly dismissive things and is very hard to dismiss.

“Whereas in real life I’m goofier and more awkward and far less certain of my opinions than I am on screen.”

Brooker’s first song choice was Tomorrow Never Knows by The Beatles, which he described as “where pop meets experimentation”, saying he could listen to it endlessly.



Annabel Jones and Charlie Brooker are Netflix’s Black Mirror screenwriters

It lead to a discussion of how Brooker feels about the world now, with him saying he is a worrier.

“You could pretty much show me any object – you could show me a cotton ball – and I would extrapolate from that to how it would ruin my life or kill me, or destroy the world,” he said.

“Somehow I could pretty much catastrophise anything.”

He said his worries stem from fearing nuclear war when he was a child, as well as watching news programmes he wasn’t supposed to when he was 11.



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He told Young that video games are a big part of his life, saying the luxury item he would take to a desert island would be a Nintendo Switch handheld games console.

“I was fascinated by this thought that you could control an image on a television, it was like a magical thing to me,” he said.

“From that point on I was hooked. I remember getting a ZX80 [games console], I saved and I begged until I got a Spectrum in 1982.

“From a very early age I thought – there is something about this as a form of entertainment that I can’t get enough of.”

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One of Brooker’s song choices was Anyone Who Knows What Love Is by Irma Thomas – which Black Mirror fans will recognise from several episodes.

The writer is currently promoting the fourth season of the Netflix series, first shown on Channel 4.

It is credited for its moments of light and shade, with Brooker seamlessly combining elements of both comedy and horror into the hit show.



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“I always knew I wanted to work in comedy but couldn’t find a way into it,” he told Young.

“I started off writing video game reviews for a magazine because I’d been making comic book strips for a video game shop and one of the writers said: ‘Why don’t you try writing some video game reviews?’.

“I remember thinking, ‘I’m not qualified for this’. I was annoyed I didn’t know my way into things.”

What were Charlie Brooker’s Desert Island Discs?

  • The Beatles: Tomorrow Never Knows
  • Eric Thompson: Florence’s Sad Song, from the soundtrack to Doogal and the Blue Cat
  • Jonathan Dunn: The theme music from Robocop for Nintendo GameBoy
  • Pixies: Debaser
  • Richie Warburton: The Scoops
  • Irma Thomas: Anyone Who Knows What Love Is (Will Understand)
  • Radiohead: Present Tense
  • Denim: The New Potatoes

Brooker, married to former Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq, also confessed he hasn’t had a break in quite a long time.

He said he might consider “an early retirement” or a “five year break”, admitting he’s something of a workaholic.

The father-of-two chose Radiohead’s Present Tense as one of his final choices, saying it helps him get to sleep at night and combat the insomnia he has suffered from for years.

Desert Island Discs is available on iPlayer.

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