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Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe is a television program written and hosted by Charlie Brooker, a British Caustic Critic, about television and how it's made. The show is similar in content to the Screen Burn columns that Brooker wrote until recently for The Guardian. Started in 2006 and still ongoing.

The show usually involves a couple of different segments. He reviews shows and programs, with a shot similar to the one at the top of the page of him in the living room of his house with his remote (and often various other peripherals such as a laptop, or Play Station 2 or Guitar Hero controllers), scathingly reviewing whatever's on screen. Secondly the show often has segments that show how difficult and painful it is to make a television program, or what a career in television is like. The show also features animations by internet animator David Firth (of Saladfingers fame), and various other famous (or not) people talking about various aspects of television.

Part of Screenwipe's appeal is the Sophisticated As Hell contrast of watching Charlie swing between being an incisive, intelligent,commentator on modern culture and a poo-flinging Man Child bellowing profanity at the screen and pretending to masturbate.

The show inspired Yahtzee's review style, and is generally a very entertaining and educational watch, even if you're not a fan of television. Due to the nature of the show, it makes excellent viewing for tropers.

Spinoffs includes Newswipe and Gameswipe, and he also made How TV Ruined Your Life, which is a kind of Spiritual Successor.

Tropes used in Screenwipe include:


  • Atomic F-Bomb: Emphatically rejecting the false dream of glamour TV sells us. (Starts at about 0:41) Note that his face turns bright red.
  • Author Filibuster: The show is built on them.
  • Biting the Hand Humor: The BBC, and production company Endemol. Both pay his bills, and both get speared quite often on his show.
  • Black Comedy
  • Catch Phrase: "Welcome to Screenwipe, a program all about television."
  • Caustic Critic
  • Child-Hater: Hates kids and never misses an opportunity to show it. He even states that one of the reasons he loves Doctor Who is because "it scares kids shitless!"
  • Credits Gag
  • Credits Pushback: Or more accurately, a constant battle against it. Brooker hates the BBC's policy of squashing and speaking over the credits, and one episode's unforgettable denouement featured him standing gagged and furiously saluting "our lords and masters" as the credits rolled. The poor announcer who had drawn the short straw sounded more than a little embarrassed.
    • Additional attempts to flummox the continuity rules included scrolling the credits in the middle of the show, and putting an ass with eyes stuck to it in front of a microphone so you could pretend the voice over guy was literally an ass. Note that they decided not to include a continuity speaker in the reruns of this particular episode...
      • The original showing was hilarious as the announcer said villainously "Yes Charlie, Merry Christmas to you too. But you're forgetting! We can squeeze it! And you won't feel a thing!"
    • Strictly, there's no rule about when credits can be shown. So most shows put them at the end, but they're allowed maybe a minute or so stinger afterwards. Brooker took advantage of this by running them 10 seconds after the starting sequence, pretending the show had ended (making any pushback voiceover on the credits completely useless) and getting Victoria Coren, of all people, to run a fake documentary about corners before performing a Hostile Show Takeover of his own show. Since he'd already run the credits, there was nothing at the end and the episode just slammed straight back into the adverts.
    • He mentioned this again during his critique of Doctor Who, demanding to know the point of getting an orchestra to record Doctor Who's Crowning Music of Awesome Theme Tune if they're just going to talk all over it.
  • Deconstruction of television.
  • Fan Disservice: He spends an entire episode shirtless. It's not likely to be a titillating sight.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: You may not believe it at first, especially when the man himself is uncredited, but Mr. Noseybonk was portrayed by Stuart Ashen himself. Really.
  • Hypocritical Humour: Especially about the way TV shows are made. Also, in the 2007 retrospective the storm of scandals over faked phone-in contests and a misleading trailer about the Queen damaged people's trust in TV as a whole, illustrated by asking a member of the public:

 Charlie: Do you believe anything you see on TV?

Interviewee: Yeah.

Charlie: Would you mind...just for this...saying that you don't believe anything? Is that all right?

[cut]

Charlie: Do you believe anything you see on TV?

Interviewee: No, not really.

  • I'll Be in My Bunk: And then some: upon viewing disturbing or violent imagery, Charlie's reaction is to utter "oh yeah" and stick a hand down his pants.
  • Insult Backfire: In the "Aspirational TV" segment (see Atomic F-Bomb above)

 Charlie: [In the face of a random socialite] FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOFF!

Random Socialite: [Unflinching] No.

  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Charlie's Jerkass Facade is really paper-thin. He's clearly horrified when some of the show's participants for a parody of The Apprentice mistake him for an actual mean git, and quickly tries to make amends.
    • Also watch his sensitive and balanced coverage of the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake.
      • "Perhaps surprisingly, some of the most measured coverage came from Fox News."
    • As well as his heartfelt tribute to Oliver Postgate.
  • Lampshade Hanging: During the show, they claimed they interviewed "TV insiders", but to conceal their identity, they filmed them in a darkened room, and used one of the researchers in their place instead.
  • Logic Bomb: In an episode that examines televisual trickery used to bend the truth, Charlie presents the "Truthbot 2000", a deliberately low-budget prop he claims can detect falsehoods and alert the viewers. Truthbot instantly points out that it is just a box with some lights and circuits inside with a voice dubbed on later. Charlie asks it how it knows this if it's just a cheap prop, the paradox causes it to overload and explode.

 Charlie: Noo-ooo-ooo! Truthbot! Why!?

 And now, because we could do with some free publicity, here's a special offensive version of our end credits in case any of you feel like complaining to Ofcom - please do. Good night.

  Everyone knows that having your own low-budget show on BBC 4, where you sit around and pick holes in the things, that is where...true...greatness...[breaks down sobbing.]

  • Sound Effect Bleep: Even though the show is show post-Watershed, Charlie gets bleeped almost every time he says "fuck".
    • Note that while Charlie's speech is censored, clips from shows he's reviewing aren't.
    • Lampshaded in one bit of the show where it's revealed that Charlie Brooker censors himself via a foot pedal (A Rock Band drumkit pedal.) which he presses down on whenever he says the f-word, thus creating the sound effect beep.
    • Brooker explained this disparity on Twitter, saying that bleeped swearing is funnier.
  • Take That
  • Totally Radical: In the links for a segment on yoof TV, Charlie is dressed in a hoodie, baggy jeans and a chunky gold chain.

  TV is largely run by people in their thirties who only dimly remember what it's like to be young. Consequently, when TV tries to court youth, it ends up looking as ridiculous as I do right now. Y'GET ME?

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