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Charlie Brooker calls it Quits
October 15, 2010 2:28 PM   Subscribe

"… if I ever have to see this gurning little maggot clicking into faux reverie mode again – rising from his seat to jazz-slap the top of his piano wearing a fake-groove expression on his piggish little face – if I have to witness that one more time I'm going to rise up and kill absolutely everybody in the world, starting with him and ending with me.". Charlie Brooker, the UK Guardian's TV 'critic', calls it quits.
posted by lalochezia (71 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
/raises glass.

Of course, he's all over the place with other projects so it;s not like this is the last we'll see of him.
posted by Artw at 2:31 PM on October 15, 2010


.
posted by permafrost at 2:32 PM on October 15, 2010


i dunno who this guy is but he sounds real remorseful, what with this letter that reads like a greatest hits compilation...
posted by nathancaswell at 2:34 PM on October 15, 2010 [8 favorites]


Johnny Rotten fought an ostrich.

Please tell me there's a video clip of this.
posted by Joe Beese at 2:35 PM on October 15, 2010 [6 favorites]


And worth mentioning, as it was previously posted more than a decade ago, is Brooker's old TVGoHome website, which pretty much started it all. I still remember the night I discovered it and spent ages reading the whole thing, in the process laughing so much I could taste blood. If Screen Burn was a fine wine, TVGoHome was like industrial alcohol.
posted by permafrost at 2:38 PM on October 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


Those are some amazing insults. "A face like a haunted cave in Poland." Mean, but glorious.
posted by painquale at 2:38 PM on October 15, 2010 [9 favorites]


Nathan Barley is of course best in the original TV listings format.
posted by Artw at 2:39 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are some truly great insults in there:

- a face like a haunted cave in Poland
- a water buffalo straining to shit in a lake
- the human equivalent of a clipping from Nuts magazine bobbing in a fetid urinal
- a man so profoundly thick you could sell him a pair of his own socks for £500, even if he was already wearing them
- and about himself, resembling 'a heartbroken carnival mask hurriedly moulded from surgically extracted stomach fat and stretched across a damaged, despondent hubcap'
posted by The Discredited Ape at 2:41 PM on October 15, 2010 [17 favorites]


Those are some amazing insults. "A face like a haunted cave in Poland." Mean, but glorious.

As spooktactular Brooker insults go it doesn't beat "John Kerry, for his part, looks and sounds a bit like a haunted tree" - which pretty much sums the guy up.
posted by Artw at 2:42 PM on October 15, 2010 [38 favorites]


I guess taking the piss out of annoying things on television is harder when you're married to one of them.
posted by atrazine at 2:44 PM on October 15, 2010 [5 favorites]


As spooktactular Brooker insults go it doesn't beat "John Kerry, for his part, looks and sounds a bit like a haunted tree" - which pretty much sums the guy up.

He's got that talent for describing someone in such a way that you can't unsee their description of it. To this day, I still cannot look at John Kerry without thinking of Treebeard making moaning noises and lurching around.
posted by atrazine at 2:47 PM on October 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


He once described Les Dawson as having 'a face like Shrek opening a court summons'. Still makes me laugh, that one.
posted by permafrost at 2:48 PM on October 15, 2010 [18 favorites]


Back when I actually bought the paper in physical form (back in about 1862) he was always the second thing I read on a Saturday (after Posy Simmonds). Before he started reviewing stuff that only went out on obscure mainly subscription only sat channels I used to make an actual effort to watch whatever he was reviewing to I would appreciate the review better.

Nathan Barley is of course best in the original TV listings format

I remember Wanking For Coins... the title of which alone sums up at least half of tv now.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:51 PM on October 15, 2010 [5 favorites]


That's the first I've heard the haunted tree thing. It's great. It's perfect.
posted by Trochanter at 2:55 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


How To Report The News: Me has this report..
posted by Erasmouse at 3:00 PM on October 15, 2010 [13 favorites]


Television has this amazing ability to absorb and neuter its harshest critics.
posted by WPW at 3:12 PM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


I had roughly two thoughts while reading this,
1) What an unpleasant human being
2) I'm glad he exists
posted by naju at 3:12 PM on October 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


And I'm glad he saved one of his harshest insults for himself.
posted by naju at 3:14 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hadn't heard of him before, but I laughed so much just from this bit, I'll miss him. And I don't have the slightest idea who the vast majority of the people he's writing about are. It doesn't matter. I love a good British insult.
posted by yiftach at 3:14 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


If Charlie Brooker did not once sum up Gillian McKeith's show as something like (i.e. I'm completely butchering this) "Mad Scots woman chases fat people with poo in box, makes them cry", then some other brilliant soul at the Guardian did (and could someone PLEASE sort out that quote and source KTHXBYE?).

He's moving on to something else, which will keep him fresh, which is great.
posted by maudlin at 3:14 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Erasmouse, I started laughing after about two seconds of that. Holy shit.

This guy, this guy is responsible for Nathan Barley, huh? Brilliant. Why don't we have this kind of brilliance in the U.S.? I like our comedy sometimes, but damn...

Also, just having done a search for this Jamie Cullum character on youtube, I'd have to agree with his original assessment.
posted by dubitable at 3:16 PM on October 15, 2010


Artw: “Of course, he's all over the place with other projects so it;s not like this is the last we'll see of him.”

Really? He seems to be nowhere. Last season of Newswipe had only five episodes – then a clip show to round it out to six. A freaking clip show! Argh. Come the fuck on, Charlie.
posted by koeselitz at 3:18 PM on October 15, 2010


nathancaswell: “i dunno who this guy is but...”

Stop right there and watch this. Yep, that's him. He's brilliantly awesome.
posted by koeselitz at 3:20 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh god, this shit is a gold-mine...thank you for reminding me permafrost. Except now I can't breath...

3.30 New Series
The Ten Tasks of One-Armed, One-Legged Hercules
Task One: Opening a bag of Doritos while standing in a hammock.
Producer Tent Slime        Subtitles...888
posted by dubitable at 3:28 PM on October 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


Fuck, link didn't work: this
posted by dubitable at 3:28 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ooh, can I play the Brooker insults game? My fave is on Adrien Brody:

[A] cross between Ross from Friends and a disappointed sundial.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:40 PM on October 15, 2010 [8 favorites]


Damn, it appears XtheMusic's youtube channel has been wiped. It had all of Screenwipe and a ton of other Brooker stuff.

Still at least this bit is still up. When I first saw this I laughed so hard I had an asthma attack and nearly died.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:08 PM on October 15, 2010


He once described Les Dawson as having 'a face like Shrek opening a court summons'.

Damn. Pretty good.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:12 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I read the article. Let me save you all some time by summing it up in one sentence.

I'm quitting reviewing TV because I think I don't so much review it as insult the people on it, and here's my self-selected greatest hits kthxbye.
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:13 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


How To Report The News: Me has this report..

"...And this is a lighthouse keeper being beheaded by a laser beam." Brilliant.
posted by A dead Quaker at 4:15 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


from gnifti's link: "It's all about adjusting your filter. Just don't try adjusting it twice."

THAT is maybe the truest thing Brooker has ever written.

And thanks to dubitable for finally getting his link right, because it allowed me to see the back-to-back educational programs

11.55 Advanced Nokia Ring Tone Programming
Baroque classics
12.25pm Basics of Marketing
Step 1: Deleting your own soul

I've never seen a more concise summary of society in the 2Ks.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:21 PM on October 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


I don't want to make this all about myself (I really should RMOFB*), but this made me think about my own semi-professional writing about TV. If Brooker is the Big Leagues, I am 5th grade t-ball, but I get to play in a decent arena, he self-linked. Still, that linked piece earned me a very nice email from one of the "Twitter stars" I featured, containing the highest compliment for my writing (by my standards): "You got it right." Which is why I have pursued mostly opportunities to write about things I LIKE (and my latest assignment has me so giddily happy, I'm afraid they won't pay me for it, thinking I'm rewarded enough). Some say it's nearly impossible to write humorously about good things, and I know I'm 75% less funny than I would be writing about something like the cast of "Jersey Shore", but that would (1) make me feel as guilty as Brooker claims to be and (2) require me to actually WATCH "Jersey Shore". I feel I've made the right decision for myself.

Besides, when I want to be snarky and negative, I have MetaFilter.


*Revive My Own Funny Blog
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:48 PM on October 15, 2010


Charlie Brooker for whom the sentence "Tell us how you really feel" was invented.
posted by Cranberry at 4:49 PM on October 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


I get mistaken for him at parties sometimes.

I don't think we look that much alike but others disagree. I personally have never misidentified anyone who wasn't famous as someone who was. Although I've had a couple of near misses with Terence Trent D'Arby.

I used to be mistaken for Charlie Higson but he's writing books now so no-one remembers what he looks like. I wonder if they have similar features to each other, or if they look like me in different ways.

I think his best work is when he's being livid but yet even-handed. Brooker that is, not Terence Trent D'Arby.
posted by tigrefacile at 5:20 PM on October 15, 2010


He once described Les Dawson as having 'a face like Shrek opening a court summons'. Still makes me laugh, that one.

I don't even know who that it is and I just laughed my ass off. He truly has a gift.
posted by horsemuth at 5:40 PM on October 15, 2010


Haven't read the article yet, but the quote made me immediately think "Paul Schaffer." But no, he must be talking about some pommy git.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 5:56 PM on October 15, 2010


I'd forgotten how funy tvgohome was.

shine on, paedophile walrus!
posted by rog at 6:01 PM on October 15, 2010


I cannot even conceive of a person existing with an arrangement of neurons that can produce insults like this. It's positively superhuman. I tried to stay composed, but when I read "a face that could advertise war," I lost all hope of breathing normally for the subsequent 5 minutes.

And now I can't stop picturing her holding up a box of war like it's a prize in The Price Is Right.
posted by Xezlec at 6:14 PM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


END OF THE SHOW! END OF THE SHOW!

HE FELL IN DA WATER!!!

We yell these things at each other all the time at our house and never fail to crack ourselves up. I love Charlie Brooker so, so much.
posted by That's Numberwang! at 6:19 PM on October 15, 2010


GO AWAY.
posted by That's Numberwang! at 6:37 PM on October 15, 2010


To say that Nigel Lythgoe is Eric Idle watching a dog drown transcends humor and becomes science.
posted by fleetmouse at 7:08 PM on October 15, 2010 [8 favorites]


Hell, even the simple sentence "Glenn Beck occurred" just tickled me in a place I can't reach.

Glenn Beck "occurred". Kind of like a small petulant tornado.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:22 PM on October 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


I read the article. Let me save you all some time by summing it up in one sentence.

I'm quitting reviewing TV because I think I don't so much review it as insult the people on it, and here's my self-selected greatest hits kthxbye.


Yep, this pretty much sums it up.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:45 PM on October 15, 2010


I'm not sure I understand the point of a TV critic who seems to hate TV and everyone one it. He's not really funny and doesn't have anything interesting to say other than insulting people.
posted by octothorpe at 8:22 PM on October 15, 2010


If you don't have anything nice to say about a vacant, soul-destroying show like Big Brother you should say nothing at all.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:38 PM on October 15, 2010


I'm not sure I understand the point of a TV critic who seems to hate TV and everyone one it. He's not really funny and doesn't have anything interesting to say other than insulting people.

I'm sorry to say it, but you're not as good as sarcasm as Charlie Brooker is. Better luck next time!
posted by dubitable at 8:44 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


as good as sarcasm as Charlie Brooker —> as good at sarcasm as Charlie Brooker

I think there was some sort of Freudian slip going on there but I haven't quite figured it out yet.
posted by dubitable at 8:45 PM on October 15, 2010


I expect this is largely due to You Have Been Watching. It can't be easy to get TV people to do guest appearances on your TV-themed TV panel show when you have a weekly column dedicated to trashing those very same TV people.
posted by Lazlo at 9:20 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


God is in the details.
posted by carping demon at 9:51 PM on October 15, 2010


Watching Charlie Brooker go apeshit over the thing that makes me want to kill everyone at the networks was one of the highlights of my year. (I'm not being explicit because telling you would be giving away part of what makes it so good.)
posted by tzikeh at 10:16 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh CRAP I hate not closing my html tags properly. Link still works, though.
posted by tzikeh at 10:17 PM on October 15, 2010


tzikeh: not for me it doesn't - channel 4 has blocked it on copyright grounds, do you want to give us a clue what it was about?
posted by biffa at 11:04 PM on October 15, 2010


Remember, reader: only one of us gets out of this relationship alive.

I have no idea what this means but I love this sentiment.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:20 PM on October 15, 2010


From the days of CEX Sir @charltonbrooker has made me laugh and whilst I mourn the loss of Screenburn I look forward to whatever he does next. So long as it's not about me...
posted by fallingbadgers at 11:25 PM on October 15, 2010


I wrote that ... Cilla Black was "starting to resemble the result of an unholy union between Ronald McDonald and a blow-dried guinea pig".

I had no idea who Cilla Black is, but he's spot on with that one.
posted by sour cream at 12:30 AM on October 16, 2010


naju: Charlie Brooker speaks for a certain type of viewer I think, the type who has given in to a kind of despair as the encroaching stupidity of TV. The very genre of "reality" shows itself I think proves that we as a species have given up on the great parade of human advancement. In every insult I've ever heard or read him make that sentiment, that TV has become almost measurably idiotic, burns through.

What made me love him, however, are the bits on Screenwipe and Newswipe where he ruthlessly tears apart some horrible trend in TV/TV news. Especially the bit he did following a hypothetical TV producers on her career from bright-eyed wonder child to another soul-deadened prole existing only to fill time. Sometimes the bits get a bit histrionic, but I can tell he means well. He may not have the stamina of Jon Stewart or the genius of Stephen Colbert, but he has sharper teeth.
posted by JHarris at 1:45 AM on October 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Mr Brooker recently tweeted:
Christ, some are reacting like I'm leaving the planet or quitting career completely. I'm just swapping one column for another.

Also, I am in zero danger of suddenly turning all 'nice'.
posted by Grangousier at 2:58 AM on October 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Guardian and the Observer have a fine tradition of superbly funny TV reviewers. In the 70s, it was the fearsomely literate stylist Clive James - most famous aperçu, "Arnie Schwarteznegger looks like a condom stuffed with walnuts" - who also gave up reviewing because, he said, he was appearing on TV too much. If you can find the anthologies of his reviews, Visions Before Midnight and The Crystal Bucket, they're as good a snapshot of the 70s on UK TV as you could hope for. He's particularly good on Nixon. He's not particularly good appearing on TV, though: even the most luminous intelligence gets filtered of subtlety by the medium.

If you want to be a good writer, read as much Clive James as you can and hope some of it sticks. In his own words, he turns a phrase until it glitters in the light.

In the 70s, 80s, 90s and even now, the immortal Nancy Banks-Smith on the Guardian quietly produced and produces the most delightful, gently waspish takes on how surreal the whole business is. You cannot come out of one of her reviews anything other than happier than when you went in.
posted by Devonian at 3:31 AM on October 16, 2010 [5 favorites]


Glad Charlie Brooker has finally grown a soul. I always found him too vicious in pursuit of a cheap laugh. Good on him.
posted by Lleyam at 3:33 AM on October 16, 2010


I fear that Charlie is going to go soft on us. That would be a great, great pity.

I blame Konnie Huq. Damn her for making our Charlie happy. I like my curmudgeons mean, bitter and un-laid.
posted by Decani at 3:39 AM on October 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


biffa: That's very odd.

Here is another link to the scene. Here's hoping it works!

(I'll also MeMail you in case you don't see this)
posted by tzikeh at 8:53 AM on October 16, 2010


Nope, that doesn't work either. What is it?
posted by Grangousier at 9:02 AM on October 16, 2010


Damn it. For the past couple of years I've considered myself to be working towards being an archetypal middle-aged, angry curmudgeon (mainly to spite society in general) and I'd only just discovered Brooker's writing. Who should I use as a template now?
posted by NeonSurge at 9:30 AM on October 16, 2010


See also: The late Steve Wells.
posted by Artw at 10:41 AM on October 16, 2010


Charlie Brooker: 10 of the best Screen Burn columns

(Particularly like Jordan described as a 'Rubbery pirate ship figurehead'

And the Lottery Show haiku:

Applause explodes
as bubblegum balls fall in line;
you have won fuck all

posted by fearfulsymmetry at 11:23 AM on October 16, 2010


The Guardian and the Observer have a fine tradition of superbly funny TV reviewers.

You missed out Tapehead. His rants about the declining quality of Brookside were hilarious.
posted by mippy at 4:17 AM on October 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Devonian, the Clive James TV column anthologies are on his website here.
posted by gdav at 6:51 AM on October 17, 2010


But does this mean we get Nancy Banks-Smith back?
posted by nonane at 9:08 PM on October 17, 2010


I first encountered Brooker back in his games reviewing days when he wrote for PC Zone. Happily, there are some scans of his work. His cartoons were always deeply weird, but often hilarious. Here's another of his old comics.
posted by Kattullus at 10:04 PM on October 17, 2010


He's still going then...

The coalition has repeatedly promised that those with the broadest shoulders will bear the greatest load; unfortunately, the majority of people develop broad shoulders by doing underpaid manual work, not trading stocks from the comfort of a Herman Miller Aeron chair.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:13 AM on October 18, 2010


Oh, man. I just read the Pop Stars review, and I think "Nigel Lythgoe looks like a man ordering gammon steak in a motorway service station" is even better than the Eric Idle one.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:13 AM on October 18, 2010


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