The National Anthem: Part Three

00.42 And we’re back. The crowds are gathering in front of the TV sets. The PM is making the worst car journey of his life. Sam Cam would be wringing her hands if RADA still taught you to do that to signify ‘distress’.

00.44 Like the PM, I’ve remembered again what we’re dealing with here. The nasty details are clicking in. Lindsay has checked, the pig has been ‘sedated’, and she’s now opening the door for a horrified looking PM.

00.45 Cut to people in a pub watching TV, where an official announcement comments that ‘the PM will shortly be performing an indecent act on your screens’. A cheer goes up. And isn’t that exactly what would happen? By the time this information has filtered down through Youtube, through Twitter and Facebook, haven’t we become so utterly desensitized to it that we make no personal connection to it anymore?

Cripes. People are setting their recorders. ‘All viewers are advised to turn off their sets’, etc etc.


I feel…not too hot.

Do you know what, social media has got us in a horrible mess, hasn’t it?

I am honestly experiencing physical pain.

PM is slow mo-ing down a corridor. Lindsay runs through the rules, her voice unbearably slow. She’s a class act, that Lindsay. I’m glad I didn’t come up with a nickname for her. I sat next to her at the theatre once. She’s very pretty in real life.

Oh, ok. I’m just writing so I won’t have to focus on what she’s saying. It’s not pretty. You can have all the advisors under the sun, but when it comes  to having sex with a pig on live TV, you’re on your own. I think that’s the message we’re coming away with, anyway.

00.46 I can’t actually look at the PM’s face. It’s too horrible.

00.47 I wish I hadn’t watched that programme about teacup pigs. It was narrated by Jane Horrocks. Great show. I’M DOING IT AGAIN.

He’s faced with his destiny. A big pink pig. I have a feeling I’m not going to the South of England show next year.

He says he loves his wife, and may God forgive him.

This is it. We can see how rapidly all talk of porn stars, high tech trickery, opinion polls, and ‘just not doing it’ has been left behind. All the time spent considering other options, and he hasn’t thought until now about what ‘it’ will actually involve. He’s got to ‘see it through’, Lindsay informs him. This is the worst – in a situation where we’re grasping at very thin straws, just sort of mucking along with it would have been better than having to ‘complete the act’, which implies a certain degree of arousal and complicity in the act.

00.48 Just when it becomes too unbearable, he’s dropped his trousers, and we cut to the faces of the punters in the pub. They’re jeering. Then a few start looking troubled. Harrowed. Silence begins to fall. We’re staying on their faces. PLEASE LET US STAY ON THEIR FACES. People are crying, shaking heads. Sam Cam is…well, you know. No need for birth control in that household anymore, eh folks?

00.49 We’ve got a princess, falling over on a bridge.

00.50 And just as I’d got detached again, we’re back on the PM’s face, and noises, and it’s horrible. It’s pretty horrific. Really.

00.50 I’m not sure how much to give away here, in case you haven’t watched it. Something has happened, but I won’t say what.

00.51 PM’s throwing up over a toilet bowl. You and me both, sonny. You and me both.

Do you know, I really never thought we’d go there. I really didn’t think it’d happen.

So, after this, I’m now no longer ok to look at: pigs, Sam Cam, David Cameron, Lindsay Duncan, and Rory Kinnear. Most of all Rory Kinnear.

And do you know what? That’s the really clever part. The Camerons are implicit in this, and our brains have been constantly making associations over the course of the hour. We may not have actually seen Cameron having sex with a pig on live TV, but we’ve been there, because we’ve HAD to think about it. It would have been impossible not to.

I think there’s a big chance most of you will see the postscript coming. It’s all there when you watch it, even before you know what you’re looking for, but it’s ok. It’s not what’s important.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’m about to lose the battle with supper.

Tatty bye xx

p.s. Here’s a creepy fact: before this postscript, this blog post had 666 words. I was far too alarmed to leave it like that, so I’ve come back in to write this. Superstitious.

p.p.s There’s one more thing that’s bothering me. I just can’t help wondering if it was deliberate that SamCam was dressed in a particularly pale shade of pink dress at the very end of the show? You know, that soft, muted looking pink….why, it almost reminds me of the skin of……No. I’m being silly. Time for bed.

The National Anthem: Part Two

00.27 People are working out green screens, angles, and…erm…positions. A group of men in suits are ushering a wide boy into the studio, who is a porn star.

Again, it’s genius the way that people are just addressing this, problem-solving, working around it. At no point has anybody said ‘the PM can’t have sex with a pig on live TV!’

00.29 PM’s asking about how this is ranking in the polls. If this happened to David Cameron (which I’m guessing is what we’re supposed to be thinking), would anyone be able to look him in the face again? His advisor tells him there would be ‘no blood on his hands’ if the Princess was killed.

00.31 We’re allegedly seeing the Princess having her finger chopped off. In the little photo of her, she really bloody does look like Kate Middleton. Oh, hi, dinner. Just hang in there a bit longer, ok? Essentially, a warning has come that the kidnappers know foul play is going on.

00.32 The realisation that ‘the PM is going to have to do it!’ seems to be kicking in thick and fast. His advisor, Lindsay Duncan (sorry, I’ve run out of descriptions), informs him about the porn star.

00.34 Sam Cam clone is checking Twitter. And there’s the ugly timeline we’ve all come to know and love. You know, when you search something or click on a hashtag, and you see a collection of comments from utter lunatics? There’s a particularly delightful description of what SCC will be doing in the months after the…erm…’pig enjoyment episode’, and also the phrase ‘pig AIDS’. I do exactly what I’m supposed to: laugh guiltily at the Twitter messages, then feel utterly disgusting when I see SCC’s twisted up, mortified face.

Public opinion is shifting: the public now want to see ‘the demands met’. This is a beloved Princess we’re talking about, after all.

00.35 They’re surrounding the building where the suspected kidnappers are. News crew/rude piccies lady has inveigled herself right in on the action. Jesus. When I’m at work, people are lucky if I go out to Starbucks to get coffee for them, let alone to a deserted building with my iPhone to get a scoop.

00.37 Predictably, news crew/rude pics lady is now being chased by the armed crew who are chasing the kidnappers. That’s the only bit I saw coming, by the way. So far.

00.38 PM is hanging his head in his hands. Lindsay Duncan has cut the crap and is being blunt. She mentions his ‘questionable popularity’, and what the real consequences will be of him not going ahead with this. He’s staring into Lindsay’s heavily Elnetted hair do and suddenly he’s getting it. He’s held onto every last shred of hope, but now…how far will he go for his country…is the life of the Princess worth more than his disgrace? Will I ever come up with a better description for Lindsay Duncan than ‘Lindsay Duncan’? Find out after the break.

Read part three here:

Black Mirror: The National Anthem, Part One

Black Mirror: The National Anthem

Well. Who watched it? By the looks of my Twitter and Facebook pages, not that many of you, actually – at least not many people I know. My timelines have been clogged with X Factor and Strictly all evening, but I only spotted a handful of references to this. I set my recorder, and that’s what I’m doing now, sitting down at 11.30pm watching it. In a manner Mr Brooker would be proud to lampoon, I decided to do a kind of post action ‘live’ blog. A contradiction in terms and utterly pointless, but I’m just going to go through and list some of my reactions as I watch it. So here goes.

About half an hour prior to watching: I’d read the synopsis, which said about a ‘beloved Princess’ being kidnapped, and the PM having to make a ‘difficult decision’. Turns out that was an understatement. I find out before watching what the particular ‘difficult decision’ will involve: the PM having sex with a pig on national TV. Oh, good. Fantastic. The chance of my dinner making a surprise guest reappearance becomes a very real possibility. But…I’m committed now. Let’s do this.

00.03 The actor playing the PM has obviously been cast to remind us gently but hideously of David Cameron, but the actress playing his wife is unbearably similar to SamCam. I’m already dying a bit inside.

00.04 Ok, here we go, the money shot – so to speak. We’ve got a bleary eyed Princess (not the Kate Middleton-alike I was expecting) having a nervous breakdown and doing a third rate Keira Knightley impression, pleading with the PM to save her life… having sex with a pig. On national TV.

It’s insane, and grotesque. And…I’m definitely reaching for the remote to turn off.  I’m not even doing that ‘car crash TV’ thing I so often do with X Factor. I can actually barely hear what the actress is saying, so I’m quite glad I found out in advance what the demands were. Because I’d probably have spent the next half hour going ‘I must be really perverted, because I’m convinced they’re implying he’s got to have sex with a pig’. Anyway.

What stops me clicking off is a little touch of humour. The PM’s advisors are standing solemnly around him, drenched in blue light. The PM furrows his brow: ‘they want me to have sex with a pig?’ The reply comes: ‘Live, on television, this afternoon’. I can’t help it, I giggle. Ok. Come on stomach, you and me can do this thing.

00.09 Brilliant: ‘This video came from Youtube’. We all know how fast a video can travel in 9 minutes on Youtube. Obviously, the genius thing about this is the fact that Brooker’s setting this in the way it would happen. The abject horror of the PM followed by smacking into the practicalities of it.

00.13 We’re back after the ad break – a blonde girl is lying on a bed with her boyfriend, telling him that ‘Princess Suzanne has been kidnapped’. And this is it, this is where I’m now hooked, because obviously this would be most of us. Alarmed, convinced it’s a ‘piss take’, then bemused as to why it’s not on the news but has spread across all forms of social media. I actually remember this with the riots – sitting up late at night, checking Twitter as parts of London were burning to the ground, and yet the news was frozen, stuck in a place that the social networks had long since moved on from. I remember finding it curious that I stopped relying on the official news channels to tell me what was happening! That I was relying on my friends and acquaintances instead.

00.14 We’re in a newsroom, a team discussing whether they can run the story, and if so, how. The issue is raised as to why Facebook is providing solid coverage, but not the official news. They’re running it.

I like the fact that Brooker got the pig sex thing out of the way in first minute (I assume – still convinced I couldn’t hear a word that actress was saying). It means we’ve sort of put that to one side of our brains, it’s still there, but we’re able to focus on everything else: how the story’s being covered, what the advisors are doing etc…

I hate crude dialogue in most things. I think it shows a lack of imagination. But as an advisor tells someone over the phone to ‘shove it up your arse’, it actually has the effect of jarring me right back into the horror of the imagined act. Because what’s happening is, I’m trying not to think about it, but having to think about it at the same time.

00.16 We’ve got a special effects advisor – of course – I didn’t even think of this. I’ve been seeing this whole story as a pornographic extension of the Grimm’s Fairytales I read as a child – and there was some pretty bloody weird stuff in there, let me tell you.

00.17 Blondie and colleagues are watching the news as it breaks at work. There’s a brilliant little montage showing people absorbed but ultimately involved in their own lives. This is so perfect, and entirely what happens in extreme situations. The world is always watching, but never fully stops and stares.

00.18 The woman from the news crew is sending photos of parts of her body in exchange for insider info on the case. A nice touch again – a metaphor about how we have our own trades, our own demands, our own ransoms. Or maybe it isn’t that at all. I’m getting a bit tired and also dizzy from writing so fast.

00.18 Ace little dig at The Guardian and a) their love of live blogging, and b) the way they’d run this story: ‘the cultural significance of a pig’. Ha. God, I love The Guardian. Never change.

00.19 Vox pops of people in the street on the news ‘it’s disgusting’, ‘revolting’. I like the way that Brooker is building up this idea of people themselves being utterly revolting,  and we as the viewers are too. Because deep down, do we want this to happen? Why are we still watching? Why am I still sitting here, watching a TV programme where there’s a chance an actor might be pretending to have sex with a pig within the hour.

00.21 Sam Cam clone is talking to her husband. I tuned out a bit.

‘Would they use a female pig?’ Blondie asks, and then there’s a discussion about Lars Von Trier. I like this, again – it’s showing how the initial disgust has been filtered down: how, no matter how ‘connected’ we all are, all the time, we are ultimately disconnected, emotionally. What a load of wank. It made sense when I wrote it. Maybe The Guardian will give me a job?

00.23 Techie girl has managed to trace a possible lead, using a lot of technological speak that I miraculously followed. The aerial shot of the campus looks a lot like my uni.

Break time! Finger stretch time….

Read part two here: