Charlie Brooker takes a comedic look back at the events of 2011 - a year of royal weddings, riots and phone-hacking - with the help of Doug Stanhope, Adam Curtis and Brian Limond.
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This programme contains some strong language
and some scenes which some viewers may find upsetting
Hello. I'm Charlie Brooker and you're watching 2011 Wipe
about the least eventful year in human history
in which so little happened, it's embarrassing trying to drum up interest.
This year, Kim Jong-il died, too late to be featured in this show,
Jeremy Clarkson made a serious call for cold-blooded murder.
Frankly, I'd have them all shot.
That wasn't the only TV controversy.
The winner is The Only Way Is Essex.
The glamorous BAFTAs tail-spun into absurdity when The Only Way Is Essex won an Audience Award,
defining the moment humankind lost any right to claim it was more sophisticated than lichen.
TOWIE, as people insist on calling it, is a reality soap about a town full of vinyl sex dolls
and is the first BAFTA-winning show to feature a sequence in which its cast try to light their own farts.
It's been such a hit, it's been joined by similar fodder like E4's terrifying Made In Chelsea,
which is more a glossy commercial for depersonalisation disorder.
I watched it online and it was interrupted by a bizarre advert with the Dolmio puppets.
I realised that the Dolmio puppets' world was more realistic
than Made In Chelsea.
The year started well for Britain with the triumph of nostalgic tongue-twister, The King's Speech,
which starred Colin Firth as Mr George King
whose mouth wouldn't do what it was told
and Helena Bonham Carter as the Empire's first quilf.
The bulk of the film is a sort of Rocky for stammerers
as George King overcomes several hurdles and learns to smile and speak like a human being,
instead of an excruciatingly buffering podcast.
It all builds to a finale in which Timothy Spall playing Baron Greenback, the royals
and a shitload of plebs gather to hear Mr George King deliver a speech
during which he can't drop below 60 words per minute or the bomb on the bus will explode.
I nodded off in the middle section.
Since it was the speech he gave announcing the advent of World War Two,
it's like a feel-good movie about a doctor who overcomes his fear of X-rays to diagnose your death.
Come on, King, tell them about the advent of World War Two. Announce their doom. Come on!
With God's help...
Yes, he did it! He announced the advent of World War Two during which 450,000 Britons died
and millions were butchered worldwide. Hooray for George King! Yeah!
In summary, a good film. You know, a bit t-talky.
Meanwhile, in foreign lands, Tunisia was getting a bit fighty.
Way back in 2010, the average Briton only knew two things about Tunisia.
One, it was where they filmed Star Wars and two, that was all we knew about Tunisia.
As you could see from the footage, Tunisia seemed like a great holiday destination. Look at it.
It's got a lovely beach, idyllic sunset, a massive bloody fire.
Tunisia's sun spot status quickly changed when thousands took to the streets
after a desperate young vegetable seller set himself on fire,
an act of "to-martyrdom" that sent shock waves across the Arab world.
President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, which sounds like a can of springs bouncing down stairs, was toppled,
the first in a cut-out-and-keep series of badly dyed despots who got the heave-ho.
The Arab Spring posed a quandary.
For years, the news had shown us footage of furious Arabs chanting "Death to the West".
Now the furious Arabs were the good guys.
Prior to this year, there was little reporting of who the Arab leaders were.
Suddenly, they were everywhere, being hit in the face with shoes, sometimes a whole shoe factory,
as in this alarming Sky News moment.
Soon, the despot-toppling craze was sweeping through the Arab world like the norovirus on a cruise ship
and next up was Egypt, run by Hosni Mubarak, played here by the Count from Sesame Street.
Mubarak was a bit of a tyrant whose zany resistance-crushing affectations were tolerated
because he brought "stability" to the region. As February arrived, we could see how stable he made things.
In a normal year, a revolution in Egypt would be the biggest story, but 2011 wasn't normal,
more like an end-of-season finale for all of mankind.
As Mubarak left the stage, Colonel Gaddafi began feeling the heat.
To millions, Gaddafi was a cartoon character from the '80s, like Garfield, slightly less plausible.
The West regarded him as a bad guy due to his links to very bad events.
Like many '80s icons, a few decades later, Gaddafi reinvented himself for a new audience
with an ironic nice guy act which earned him this roadside snog from Tony Blair,
but millions of Libyans didn't find him so sexy.
Emboldened by what had happened in Tunisia and Egypt, they rose up...
Cue a brutal crackdown which led to these tragic scenes.
When rumours spread that Gaddafi had fled to Venezuela,
he appeared on TV to deny it in a Vic and Bob style sketch, captured for posterity
by Sky News.
Rest assured... Oh, it's raining.
I was going to talk with the youth in Green Square tonight,
but it's raining and that's a good omen,
so I just want to show them I am in Tripoli and not in Venezuela.
Don't believe the broadcasts of those stray dogs. Bye!
Yeah, bye, you mad prick!
Gaddafi's charm offensive continued with a dinner date with journalists including the BBC's Jeremy Bowen.
If I had to interview a possibly insane, murderous despot, I'd be nervous,
but Jeremy is such a pro,
he can launch into small talk.
This is a very nice spot. Excellent.
This date's going well. I wonder if they'll get to third base?
Bowen opened with a hard question which Gaddafi answered expertly and cogently.
Mr Gaddafi, thanks for seeing us.
It's nearly seven o'clock in the evening here in Tripoli
and you're in your capital city,
but there are large areas of this country which you no longer control.
There are even people in towns quite near here
who are part of this rising, this rebellion.
What will you do about all of that?
What is the question?
Another megalomaniac who was making waves was Charlie Sheen
who in the war on drugs was the official spokesman for drugs.
Having gone through a public drug-fuelled meltdown, Sheen confounded the US media
by refusing to respond in an apologetic manner
when interviewed by a reporter with a stick up her arse.
If you look at when you used drugs, are you disgusted with yourself?
No, I'm proud of what I created. It was radical.
You're proud of that party moment?
-Why wouldn't I be?
-Why would you be?
Hit him till he says he hates drugs!
All these radio rants have people thinking, "Charlie Sheen has got to be on drugs."
Sure. Yeah. Yeah, I am on a drug. It's called Charlie Sheen.
Charlie Sheen describing a drug called Charlie Sheen.
I don't know how you'd take Charlie Sheen, although I suspect vaginally or anally or orally. In that order.
March is rarely a pretty month and this one was uglier than usual.
In Japan, cameras caught footage of a natural disaster so ghastly,
it was hard for us to comprehend.
This was followed by a crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plant.
This was terrifying because the news had to try and explain how a nuclear reactor worked,
so hysterical Fox News Pollyanna Glenn Beck proved his expertise
by simulating nuclear fusion with tubes of M&M's and some saucepans.
The core is in this facility, containment facility.
I'm going to have to take these M&M's out. Darn it!
Well done, butter fingers! You've killed millions!
My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding was great.
It was like an Attenborough thing with gypsies instead of polar bears.
-Come to me, woman!
-It let you look at a group of people you never get to see and judge 'em,
but also laugh at 'em, so we had two things - judging and laughing.
It looked like Star Trek, but with sort of Irish people.
Like Irish Star Trek. It gave you a deep cultural insight into what thighs and arses look like
but ones from a forbidden world.
It had all these garish outfits you could look down on
and these dodgy cultural practices.
It's not long before the grabbing begins.
People said it was racist. It wasn't because none of 'em were black.
Even if they had been, it wouldn't b racist. You weren't laughing at thei skin, but everything else about them
In London, a demonstration opposing government cuts began with a speech from Ed Miliband.
This government will say this is a march of the minority.
They are so wrong.
But barnstorming Ed was overshadowed at least in terms of news coverage
when trouble reared its head.
The "black bloc" of anarchists dressed head to toe
in a face-obscuring leisurewear burka attacked anything shop-shaped.
They kicked a bank in the bollocks.
A Sky News cameraman got carried away and seemed to join in
to be rewarded with footage of an anarchist fearlessly breaking in
and attacking some leaflets.
UK Uncut carried out a genteel protest in Fortnum & Mason's,
only to find themselves kettled in
by cops in scenes which resembled the game Tetris.
There was anger around the cuts, reflected in the House of Commons.
There were tense exchanges between Lord David Camera Bum and Edwardian Miliband that we can't show.
We're not allowed to use footage from the House of Commons or the Select Committee or Leveson Inquiry.
We can't show you Prime Minister's Questions or Murdoch getting hit with a pie or Hugh Grant.
We're seen as an entertainment show,
unlike This Week which can use the footage
as it's a proper current affairs show. Look, proper current affairs!
MUSIC: "Born Slippy" - Underworld
Fortunately, however, we can bring you a theatrical reconstruction, so we have.
For the purposes of this show, several stars from Made In Chelsea
have staged a performance of parliamentary proceedings in the Hen & Chickens Theatre, Islington.
Here, Chelsea's Ollie Locke relives the controversial moment David Cameron said, "Calm down, dear."
He's no longer an MP because he lost the election.
I'm afraid he is now a GP. MUTTERING
Calm down, dear. Listen to the doctor.
See, brilliant! Take that, the law!
Wildlife and viewers of Britain's premier controversy hothouse,
The One Show, tuned in to see a peculiar creature staring at an owl.
I think he'll eat it. Prime Minibot David Replicant sat there as a man tried to sell him a bird of prey.
This is the complete predator. If you look at the feathers, they're totally soft along the edge,
so she flies completely silently. The prey never hears her coming.
I've heard an owl coming. It went, "Twit-twoo-oo-oo!"
-Four mice a day. This could be competition.
-How many mice do you eat? Five?
Having failed to buy or eat the owl and having seen footage of it eating a mouse without licking his lips,
the PM-a-tron was now free to leave, but not before Matt Baker kerplunked him with an awkward question.
How on earth do you sleep at night?
-Cameron must have thought, "Who the hell does this Countryfile presenter think he is?"
April and what could be better to take the nation's mind off the background stench of doom
than a feel-good royal wedding?
The BBC showed an advert proving it would be watched by stars and plebs.
They milked the build-up, conducting a series of hard-hitting interviews with royal experts like this.
-Young Matilda here... Hello, are you excited about this?
-Yes, I am.
-And do you think Kate will be a nice princess?
-She's very pretty, isn't she?
-Yes, she is.
Well done, you. Have a lovely day.
Come the day, there was wall-to-wall coverage as Kate got into a car which drove down a road and stopped,
then she got out, revealing her dress, which made some crowd members almost spew with joy!
I was glued to my screen because I was playing Portal 2, one of the best video games ever.
Why waste my afternoon watching Ben Fogle get married when I could clamber through teleportation holes?
Everyone else seemed to be watching a global Rear of the Year contest
as Kate's sister Pippa stole the show by owning buttocks.
You'd have thought she stuck her bum in the font!
The US networks were even more butt-happy with report after report.
There were sinister features in which viewers were told
how to get a booty like Pippa's using surgery.
If you asked women, "Would you like a sexier, curvaceous buttock,"
there would almost be an overwhelming "yes".
One American who wasn't massively impressed with the royal wedding was comedian Doug Stanhope
who joins us now for some whining in an accent.
MUSIC: "Hail To The Chief"
I'm Doug Stanhope and that's why I drink.
There was a big royal wedding that happened over here.
I didn't hear about it because I was in the Antarctic somewhere with my head in a bucket of tar,
like a David Blaine trick, for six months, so I didn't have to hear about it.
It irks me that I spent eight years coming over here under the George Bush regime
with my head hung in shame saying, "It's not my fault, it's not my fault,"
the whole time not realising you guys still have royalty. How embarrassing is that?
You have queens and dukes and princesses.
Do you have wizards and fairies and dragons?
For God's sake, is this a country or a Renaissance festival?
What kind of Dungeons and Dragons bullshit is that? I'm apologising for George...?
How dare you ever make fun of any democratically elected official
when you still have this Dark Ages nonsense going on?
There was this thing called super-injunctions
which meant you weren't allowed to say things which everybody knew about Ryan Giggs,
except you were allowed to type about them on the internet.
The police can't find you because the internet doesn't have a postcode
Andrew Marr had a super-injunction. I felt sorry for him because every week at the start of his show,
he had to drive to work in that toy car to make him look stupid
get the papers himself and go into the office knowing all the staff wer talking about his super-injunction
and stand in the lift with his ears burning. That's the price you pay for going on telly.
Once someone's on telly, you have the right to know who they're sleeping with
or what's on their phone or what their secret fears are or what hand they wipe their arse with
or what it would look like if you pulled their pants down and stared right up their arsehole
because it's in the public interest.
If you're wondering what an anonymous tabloid hack might make of the super-injunction saga,
here's anonymous tabloid hack Fleet Street Fox with her personal view.
It was very frustrating as a journalist
to know that everyone on Twitter was talking about the things
that we weren't allowed to report.
Quite a few of them were in the public interest, but if I mentioned it, I could lose my job or my home,
whereas the average man in the stree can repeat the gossip he's heard in the pub.
75,000-odd people broke the Giggs injunction on Twitter and not one ha any court action taken against them.
The media couldn't cover it. That was why it was a farce.
We couldn't even report the fact that people were breaching an injunction. It was ridiculous.
The injunctions were brought under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act
which says everybody has a right to respect for privacy in family life.
It doesn't say you have a right to a secret life and the two are very, very different.
Marriage is a public thing and a public record.
If you're making money out of your marriage or out of being in a happy relationship
or misleading the public in some way, perhaps you ought to be honest about the fact that it's not working
If you don't respect your privacy and your family life by sleeping with hookers,
I'm not going to respect you either.
Hooray, it's May and after battling to victory
in a thrilling edition of WWE Extreme Rules Wrestling,
beefy John Cena makes a shock announcement.
We have caught and compromised to a permanent end
Osama Bin Laden.
Once the crowd had slowly unlocked the meaning of those words,
an inspiring scene transpired as John prowled the cheering arena,
everyone bathed in the reflected glory of a criminal
thousands of miles away being shot by soldiers they didn't know
in a manner that is in no way disturbing or homo-erotic.
Let's not judge. That may look like an outpouring of joy, but it's actually just relief.
Fox News anchor Geraldo Rivera was so relieved when he heard the news,
he livened up his broadcast by spontaneously spouting lyrics.
Bin Laden is dead, Bin Laden is dead
Shot in the chest, then in the head.
Multiple sources, Osama Bin Laden is dead. Happy days!
This is the greatest night of my career. The bum is dead!
They shot four other people too. One of them was a woman. Hooray!
I'm so blessed, I'm so privileged to be at this desk at this moment.
Yay! Have a pint of blood on me. Cheers!
It's just relief he's expressing, not joy.
Jubilant scenes spread across all the news networks as crowds gathered
in not a ghoulish way to celebrate the death of the bearded murderer. More relief, not joy.
Within months, Osama's take-down had been turned into a docu-drama
full of interviews with the people responsible. It's nice to know
that in battling a monster, the Americans didn't become monsters themselves which is often the case.
A monster revels in death, but they were expressing relief, not joy.
One image that comes out of this is the fact
that Bin Laden's final sight on this Earth
was the muzzle of a US Navy SEAL.
For those of us who have been lookin for Bin Laden for a long time,
to know that that was the last thing that he saw is actually a moment of joy.
Ed Miliband is brilliant, right?
He's like a boy who's won a competition to lead a party,
but he always looks worried like someone is going to throw his satchel on the roof.
Then in June, Ed Miliband broke.
He was being interviewed on the news about strikes.
They asked him what he thinks about the strikes and he says...
These strikes are wrong when negotiations are still going on.
Then they ask him another question.
When negotiations are still going on, these strikes are wrong.
-Then he says it again, right?
-The strikes are wrong when negotiations are still going on.
-He keeps saying it.
-These strikes are wrong because negotiations are still going on.
-I'm going mental.
Stop him saying it. It's like you're stuck in a box with him saying...
It's wrong at a time when negotiations are still going on.
After a while, they give up. Someone must have reset his Wi-Fi as he was all right the next day.
Then he was back to walking around looking sexy because he is really sexy, he's a powerhouse.
I bet he goes at it like a jackhammer. Cor!
We were entertained by thousands of brilliant TV commercials, none of which we'll look at now.
We start with a terrifying horror film set in a world
in which the human brain no longer exists.
Isn't this the sort of thing the losing team make in The Apprentice during Advert Week?
The one crumb of comfort you can draw from this commercial
is the knowledge that everyone involved in making it or merely watching it will one day die.
Teeth. In a sinister development for dental care, a bastard bothers shoppers with a probe.
-Is your toothpaste working?
-Time for a quick check.
Bacteria? But I brushed this morning
Don't lie, you bitch! The probe knows everything.
-The next day, she obeyed the regime's orders.
Wow! Where's all that bacteria? I'm impressed.
Now pull your pants down for stage two of the inspection.
Coffee! These absurd ads try to seduce women by shoving fantasy men
before them like man carrots.
How do you like your coffee?
-How about smooth, sensual and with these?
-Not really. Mauve doesn't do anything for my legs.
I'm going to move my stuff out of the bedroom,
so there's more room for your enormous handbags.
-Don't talk about my testicles like that!
-How do you like your coffee?
How about smooth, aromatic
and with a long conversation?
-No, just black.
-How do you like YOUR coffee?
-Tossed in your
-How about smooth, aromatic...
-and in Paris?
-No, I prefer it in mugs.
As July arrived, the phone-hacking saga suddenly became a horror story.
The story had gained momentum, but no-one cared if the tabloids were hacking celebrities' phones.
They're not real, probably a form of animated pate!
-If they got stories by waterboarding soap stars, no-one would mind.
-Are you pregnant? Are you up the duff?
-Got a bun in the oven?
-But on July 4th, the story broke which changed everything.
More revelations in the News Of The World hacking scandal.
It's accused of intercepting Milly Dowler's phone.
Never again could the paper be seen as a bit of crinkly bog roll that was cruel to celebs.
Now it was cruel to real people.
The story got worse. The shocking, grim headlines kept coming.
It was as if the paper was in a game of onedownmanship with itself.
With so many victims of tragedy, I'm surprised the cast of The Poseidon Adventure weren't on the list.
Later, The Guardian admitted
The Screws probably hadn't deleted Milly's voicemails,
but they had accessed them and people weren't impressed.
Being a tabloid reporter is not the most noble profession,
but now it was on a par with necrophiliac porn wrangler
and it didn't help that the only person defending the red tops
was former Screws hack and ethical vacuum, Paul McMullan.
I've always said I've just tried to write articles in a truthful way
and what better source of getting the truth
is to listen to someone's messages?
-That might sound frivolous, but...
-It's also immoral?
You're a walking PR disaster for the tabloids as you don't come across in a sympathetic way.
You come across as a risible individual.
That is amazing of Steve Coogan -
to be able to play Alan Partridge and Paul McMullan in the same room at the same time!
We'll no longer be able to expose celebrities for taking coke and cheating on their wives
which, to be honest, I always found a bit of fun.
Everyone had a go - Liverpudlians...
You had to ask me who I was. You didn't even know what I'd done.
-People have been thrown out of work because of things people like you have done
and besmirched the name of a good paper.
-Your only motive was profit.
You have no interest in journalism. It's money, money, money.
You should try real journalism. You could probably do it.
He had to eat more shit than David Walliams swimming up the Thames.
You could watch him getting shabbier and shabbier, limping from studio
to studio like he was trying to keep warm
until viewers texted in, trying to vote him off.
BEEPING Sorry, my phone's beeping. I'll just turn that off.
I'd leave him a voicemail, but I don't know if he'd listen to it.
It's fine sniggering at tabloid hacks, but what about their editors?
Imagine being a tabloid editor! It's like working down a shit mine.
Imagine going to work every day and actively making the world worse!
"What did you do today, darling?"
"I ran a story about a Muslim council banning the word 'chalk' because it sounds like 'pork'."
"Really? Is that true?" "Nah."
Attention focused on the editors who did or didn't know what was going on.
Andy Coulson had claimed total ignorance and resigned twice.
Now pressure was mounting on News International CEO Rebekah Brooks
who had kept the News Of The Screws going, spending years expertly stopping the monitors wobbling.
An unimpressed public organised boycotts, trying to bring down the empire with their keyboards.
At the end of the week, the Death Star exploded. Cue excitable headlines from around the globe!
Sunday's News Of The World will be the last edition of the paper.
This is massive news. I don't think anyone could have predicted
that it would end like this.
We do know tonight that after 168 years, the World is ending
I bought the final News Of The World. In the newsagent's, no-one would look anyone else in the eye.
It was like we had found a corpse of a bear in the woods and we were queuing up to have sex with it.
The thing itself is a curious artefact.
It had a strangely muted final front page - "thank you & goodbye".
Normally when a despised monster is killed, it just lets out a howl like, "Aaargh!"
That should have been what was on the front page.
It's the strangest edition of the News Of The World ever.
First of all, they've got this final editorial saying goodbye.
That must have been tricky, concentrating on the paper's good points,
a bit like writing the eulogy at Fred West's funeral.
What do you say? "He was good with his hands, virile"?
There was the usual mix of, "Here's the good things we did. Look, here's a bum we showed you."
And these little farewell messages from readers scattered around like little tragic croutons.
"Britain will never be the same again," says Les from Manchester. Yes, it will.
Then in the middle they've got this special souvenir pull-out,
a souvenir pull-out of all their greatest front pages.
Kerry Katona doing coke. Proud of that.
Someone hid a camera in Kerry Katona's bathroom.
If I hid a camera in a woman's bathroom, I'd expect to go to prison.
Luckily, I hide them so well, no-one will find them.
"Jacko's deathbed." Now, that's tasteful, isn't it?
"This is the sensational first picture of the bed where Michael Jackson took his last breath."
That's nice, isn't it? And you look at all of this, all these sort of gaudy front pages
and you just go, "Yeah, I'm glad it died."
But deleting The Screws from history did not help stem the crisis.
Before long, Brooks had to resign, seen leaving the building disguised as an unhappy Charles II.
Attention was also on her boss, media tycoon Rupert Murdoch,
seen here in the least convincing match.com poster campaign ever.
For years, it was as though Rupert Murdoch represented God
and all our public figures were medieval villagers terrified of speaking ill of him.
You must never anger God. God can hear everything you say, especially if you say it in a voicemail.
God has the power to destroy you, for he controls The Sun
and soon he will control the entire Sky, and there's nothing anyone can do about it.
Suddenly, after the phone-hacking revelations, it was like a jamming signal had been switched off
and everyone could talk openly about him for the first time ever.
This media oligarch was losing his touch and soon he had to appear before the Select Committee
with his sidekick James-Bot 2.0.
In accordance with regulations, Made In Chelsea's Oliver Proudlock plays Rupert Murdoch
while Jamie Laing plays his robot offspring James.
Louise Mensch is performed by Cesca Hull.
The Select Committee was like a bush tucker trial for Murdoch. He began by swallowing his own dignity.
Before you get to that, I would just like to say one sentence. This is the most humble day of my life.
And for seconds, a slice of unexpected foam pie.
What exactly is a Rupert Murdoch? Here's a short film from Adam Curtis explaining what he thinks.
This is the story of how Rupert Murdoch took over the old newspapers of Fleet Street
and used them to wage a cultural revolution against the snobbish elites that dominated Britain.
But there was a weird logic to Murdoch's revolution
that would lead him to intrude ever more deeply into people's private lives
and would eventually bring his empire to the brink of destruction.
And it talks on the phone?
The world's top talking parrot...
Murdoch's populist revolution failed to change Britain's power structure,
yet his failure would open the way for the rise of a new elite
who are far more invasive into all our private lives than Murdoch's papers ever were.
Well, we'll send one of our best parrot photographers. How's that?
Rupert Murdoch shocked the British establishment right from the start.
In 1969 he bought the News of the World and published the diaries of call girl Christine Keeler.
They unearthed an old sex scandal about a Conservative politician called John Profumo
and the British establishment were scandalised.
Christine Keeler, the girl who sparked off a drama of government scandal, intrigue and even death.
On Sunday, Christine opens her secret diary and tells the first full story in the News of the World.
I was young and naive then, but now I've had time to think.
This is the first time the public are able to read the real truth.
Do you have any qualms about that as muckraking and going over an old scandal that should be buried now?
No, no, certainly not. It shouldn't be dead and buried.
The vicious reaction of the British upper classes shocked Murdoch
and in the 1970s he fled with his young family to the United States.
And he used the money pouring in from his British newspapers to start building an American empire.
His personal myth began to take shape - that he was a revolutionary outsider,
challenging the decadent British system. In 1976, he said in an interview,
"In Britain it's very easy to get sucked into the establishment.
"I think when people start taking knighthoods and peerages, it's telling the world you've sold out.
"I just wasn't prepared to join the system."
And in 1981 Murdoch came back and took his revenge.
He bought The Times and made it clear that he was now challenging the hypocritical elites
wherever they were in Britain or America.
They hate someone communicating with the masses. They feel that the written word is not for the masses.
That should be left to television, or nobody. There's great elitism.
It was a typical piece of slanting or elitism by the BBC
I don't know what you mean by downmarket or upmarket. That is so English, class-ridden snobbery.
Over the next 30 years, Murdoch's newspapers promoted a populist idea of democracy.
This challenged the idea that anyone could set themselves up in Britain as a superior elite
and tell people what was best. But there was a ferocious logic to this idea of democracy.
Because if everyone was equal, then no one was special.
And that had big implications for the celebrities who had become central to Murdoch's newspapers.
If they were more famous than us, it meant they were different from us.
And the Murdoch vision didn't like the idea of anyone being different.
So celebrities had to be transformed so they would become more like us -
flawed and unhappy, drinking too much and eating too little,
struggling with emotional problems and with cellulite.
But most celebrities didn't want to be seen like that
so Murdoch's journalists had to resort to increasingly devious methods to give us what we craved -
the private weaknesses and failings of the famous.
Today, Murdoch may be on the way out, but we all still distrust elites
and there is a new empire that offers the same dream of a world without hierarchies
where we are in control. Google - with its promise of information
flowing free of all political control and where everyone talks to each other as equals.
But the price we pay for this is that Google's machines watch us all the time
and know everything about us.
And they don't even have to pay for private detectives or for phone taps.
And the strange thing is we don't seem to be bothered about this at all.
Food! And the spiritual world's answer to Lady Gaga drops in to illuminate Australian MasterChef.
I'm at my bench mincing garlic...
We're going to meet the seven contestants.
..when I look up and His Holiness The Dalai Lama himself
has come into our kitchen.
Serenity doesn't get tougher than this. His sort-of-Christliness was on hand to spread vibes
-and to ask and answer the big questions.
-What is this?
-Yes, you like cheese, don't you?
But there was more to his trip than cheese-liking. He was here to judge so he sat for the Last Supper
and, lo, when the nervous contestants shuffled in, lobbing plates in front of His Superness,
one woman was afeared, for her creation was not up to par.
Your Holiness, today I had a bit of a disaster in the kitchen.
It's not what I wanted on the plate.
Go from this place!
I wanted to share it with you today, but I didn't get it on the plate.
She's in there! Hand-rubbing aside, MasterChef wouldn't be MasterChef without a tense judging scene
-and this was no exception.
-Well, she's obviously during plating up got some gnocchi up.
But mine's actually quite raw and doughy.
-She tried her best.
-You haven't really got the hang of this judging thing, have you?
August is traditionally a quiet month in terms of events, but 2011 had other plans.
After the shooting of Mark Duggan by police, feelings were running high in Tottenham.
After a protest demonstration turned violent, TV quickly filled with scenes of wanton destruction
and furious crowds, like the start of a zombie film.
At other times it resembled a bonus stage from Streetfighter 2.
Nothing was safe, including the camera crews.
There are no riot police officers around. They are down the road dealing with...
..with... Somebody just attacked our camera.
Soon TV screens were full of depressing images of burnt-out buildings and a dead bus.
But it was far from over. Trouble then broke out in other areas
and there came more and more footage of looting.
Violence and hysteria seemed to be spreading in an almost viral manner,
At times it looked more like a zombie film than most zombie films.
The apocalyptic feel carried through in endless helicopter coverage,
resembling the most depressing Command and Conquer level ever.
Even from this vulture's perspective, the brazen lack of respect for police was startling.
It wasn't just violent, it was cheeky.
That led to one of the most bizarre identity parades in history.
Just take your time. Anything look familiar?
Maybe number three?
As time wore on, the trouble spread as if some sort of lawlessness gas had been released.
Disturbing footage showed Croydon now twinned with the Eye of Sauron,
and Sky reporter Mark Stone was busy capturing unprecedented scenes of pixelated anarchy on his phone.
Whoever fitted that bracket did a hell of a job!
He also held impromptu interviews with alleged looters.
-These people appear to have been at it. What...
-Are you a journalist?
-No, I live here.
-I'm astounded at what you're doing.
-We're getting our taxes back.
Fair enough. They will need taxis back to carry all that stuff.
Trouble was much of the live coverage depicted shops being looted and no one to stop it.
It was almost like a giveaway sale.
Kicking off now is Britain's most terrifying sale!
Thousands of prices and windows smashed! Get the top-name brands!
Plasma screens worth £750 are now no pounds!
Trainers worth £79 now no pounds!
Basmati rice was £8.99, now no 99!
If you can get it off the wall, it's yours.
Get an increased sentence absolutely free!
Branches in Hackney, Ealing, Croydon, Clapham Junction and soon Manchester!
Please, God, let it end soon!
Aside from the violence, what was depressing was the nature of the looting.
It was about getting phones and tellies and trainers.
What's so great about trainers? Stick 'em on your feet and walk. Woo-hoo!
If we're so impressed by footwear, we might as well give up.
Having thoroughly depressed us all, the news now needed to give us something to cling to,
so it began to highlight some cheery side effects.
There was widespread coverage of heartening, impromptu broom armies that assembled.
Yeah, but somewhere a broom showroom has been gutted.
There was even a breakout viral star in the form of Pauline Pearce, who ranted at looters on YouTube.
She's working hard to make her business work and then you burn it.
-For what? To say you're a bad man?!
-She was the Susan Boyle of the riots,
except she was standing in front of graffiti that said "Cameroon suck my dick" bellowing abuse.
You lot piss me the fuck off! I'm ashamed to be a Hackney person!
More like the Sex Pistols, really.
Not that these punk roots stopped her from appearing on This Morning,
and being profiled like a pop star on the news. But people wanted to see the wrongdoers banged up.
Many seemed to revel in their crimes, posing like winners of a Gadget Show competition.
Sky News carried an illuminating interview with looters in disguise.
To protect their identities, two dressed as ninjas, one as a man peering from an elephant's arse.
Let's hear what they have to say.
-What did you get?
-What did I get? Tracksuits.
A couple of electronic stuff.
-Nice green scarf.
-I know people that know people, so I got a van.
-You were going round in a van filling it up at stores?
-Yeah, but we also dropped it off.
-A bit like Ocado.
-Any bad feelings? Ever thought about it at night in your bed?
No, cos I'm watching my plasma! It's like Christmas came early.
And with that this troubled band of teenagers walked off into the sunset with their trousers falling down.
Should have nicked a belt! The media went into full-blown hand-wringing,
trying to work out why the riots happened.
The riots just hardened whatever opinion you had beforehand.
-Masked youths blamed anger and anger.
-What do you think drove the people that smashed this up?
Anger, innit? Anger as well.
-Grown men blamed the Big Society.
-The Big Society, it's a load of crap what they say.
It's not worth ten bob.
On civilised Sky News, posh people blamed people from the estates.
It's people from local estates.
-And arseholes on horrible US shitcasts blamed immigrants.
-Many of them are immigrants,
can't speak the language. Of course they're unemployed.
In an unusually angry Newsnight, David Starkey seemed to join in, blaming race.
The whites have become black.
A particular sort of violent, destructive, nihilistic gangsta culture has become the fashion.
Yeah, black people, it's your fault, even when you try not being black.
Look at this white black bastard! How dare he?! White as the ace of spades! Go back to Africa or Surrey!
I was in London for the big riots. I was amazed that anything over here could burn
in this damp, stone, brick, ugly, mossy rock.
I'm amazed I can keep a cigarette lit outside.
And I don't know why it happened. They happened for whatever reason.
They're trying to say it's a socio-economic thing. I don't think so.
Unless you had some flatscreens for the needy programme that got chiselled out of the budgets.
Take your little rioter at home and put him on your lap and explain, "Loot and riot and steal
"every flatscreen out of that shop, you little chimney sweep! You little scamp!
"Fill your entire walls with flatscreens everywhere you look
"and all that's on is Friends and Top Gear. And with your hours you'll get the deaf interpreter,
"flailing away in a seizure in the bottom of your screen."
I've literally wet a napkin and stuck it to the lower quarter of my television screen
so I could get through an episode of a show I didn't want to watch anyway.
What you have to explain to your youth is their outlook is bleak regardless.
It doesn't matter if you have money over here. You're in the UK.
Your outlook is fucked.
The Killing, that was good, right, but it was really weird.
It was about Sue Perkins,
but instead of judging baking, she's being a policeman. A man.
With a jumper on. The same jumper for weeks, so she stunk.
And there wasn't much killing except the girl at the start. Her parents took ages to get over it.
Usually you see the relatives for one scene, boo hoo.
But this kept showing them, sitting around looking upset
and crying and getting angry. And looking lost, until, "All right.
"The murder was nine whole episodes ago. Get over it!
"Have some ice cream. Jesus! You've two other kids. Take them to the zoo and don't get THEM killed!"
Then it was so popular, they did it again.
It was like The Killing I, but with Sarah Lund in a different jumper
and it had Giant Haystacks in it and this man hiding, in the army,
and the army blokes were a bit weird and tossed each other off.
Didn't really get it.
September is for authenticity and there were red faces all round
when ITV's new documentary strand Exposure included footage from a video game
as a real IRA home movie.
With Gaddafi's machine guns, it was possible to shoot down a helicopter
as the terrorists' own footage of 1988 shows.
This was what security forces feared most.
It was the most eye-opening documentary since that Panorama on the big monkey lobbing barrels.
Sticking with games, it was a bumper year with the sumptuous and epic Skyrim
and the ground-breaking LA Noire, a cinematic homage to film noir, with hot man-on-corpse action,
-faintly eerie cameos from the cast of Mad Men.
-You're Fifth Columnists.
-And plentiful sequences in which you quizzed creepily realistic suspects.
-You want a confession?
-That's what you want?
-That's exactly what we want.
-Where were you on Super Mario Land?
It was also a good year for shooting in the face
as two of the biggest video game franchises went to war - Modern Warfare 3 versus Battlefield 3.
They look macho as heck, these things, but they're homoerotic. Check out this guy's moustache.
You crawl behind him with his bum right in your face. It says Follow, like a direction from your heart.
Although sometimes the action seems unnecessarily cruel. Watch my pal deal with this guard.
I just don't want to be friends with someone who shrugs that off.
Entertainment! And in a noble bid to repeal our something for nothing culture,
ITV broadcast Cowell-devised guessing game Red or Black?
It was basically a massive coin toss without the coin. A massive toss.
Since the show was about evenly matched odds, it was presented by conjoined twins Ant and Dec
and had cameos from the likes of Louis Walsh, blowing David Hasselhoff's arse off.
Eventually the contestants were whittled down until a winner emerged victorious.
Since contestant backstory is everything, it was fortunate the first winner had a good one.
-He'd served five years for beating up an ex-girlfriend.
I've been dying to say this. You are now a millionaire!
If I was him, I'd spend it covering up my past.
Things were hairy down Gaddafi way. World leaders had launched Operation Odyssey Dawn,
a prog rock military campaign supporting the Libyan rebels.
Berlusconi only took part because he thought it was invading Labia.
Now with NATO assistance, rebels played tug of war with Gaddafi's forces between Tripoli and Benghazi.
-Despite hours of nailbiting footage of reporters dodging bullets...
-They were rebel vehicles.
..for the average viewer it was confusing. I know I'm meant to be on the side of the rebels,
but the narrative is all over the place. It's all map this, map that,
different flags and place names. Keep it simple for God's sake!
And the ammo they get through is mental. There'll be a lead shortage.
The news just showed them shooting everything. It was bloody chaos!
They even seemed to have declared war on the sky. The average lifespan of a Libyan sparrow is 15 seconds.
It was fun for onlookers, taking photos like it was Alton Towers.
In September, the rebels made a final advance into Tripoli and Sky News' Alex Crawford,
broadcasting live from a rebel vehicle, was first on the scene as Gaddafi's compound was overrun.
She even conducted a fun interview with a guy who swiped Gaddafi's hat.
I was like, "Oh, my God! I'm in Gaddafi's room! Oh, my God!"
But even as his compound became a sort of adventure playground and people dissed his image,
there was no sign of Gaddafi and it looked like he might never be seen again, until he was.
When his convoy was intercepted, he sought shelter in a tunnel
and might not have been caught if he hadn't tweeted.
What happened next was one of the most nightmarish images of the year and it only got worse.
We show these pictures with a warning that the video has images of Gaddafi's dead, bloodied body.
-The pictures are graphic and may be distressing.
-How bad can it be?
'So this is how it ended - the body of Gaddafi lying in a freezer...'
There was no respite. It's odd that newspapers won't print nipples on the front cover,
but a triumphant photo of a dead man is OK. So many people wanted a Facebook snap of the body,
it was kept in cold storage until it went off. Let's not judge - we'd have had him in a shopping centre.
We used to believe a camera would steal part of your soul.
Watch the news today and it looks like the people taking the photos had their souls stolen.
Along with urban violence and unbridled despair, Twitter hashtags were all the rage.
Here's BAFTA-winning human being Brian "Limmy" Limond.
-Welcome to Question Time.
-Ah, my favourite programme. An hour of intense political discourse.
-But wait, what's this?
-If you're tweeting...
-I can tweet along using the hashtag #bbcqt.
That's a great idea! Join the debate. Let's see what people say.
"Oh, my God! Theresa May is wearing her spacesuit coat again. She looks like a fucking astronaut."
She does as well, she does!
Reply: she does as well, she does.
But now I'm missing this. Rewind.
She does as well, she does.
Play. Ah, Afghanistan. Good question. Mm-hm. Mm-hm.
She looks like him from that comic with the jumper up to his nose. I have to tweet that. Who was that?
I'll look it up. Pause.
Who was that?
Who the fuck WAS that?
Oh, forget it. I'm miles behind now. OK, Afghanistan. Play.
Oh,, I see! It's that idiot Farage. going on about bendy bananas again.
He'll turn into a banana at this rate. Oh, that's good. He'll turn into a banana at this rate. Send.
But now everyone's talking about the massacre.
And I'm talking about...bananas.
-OK, I think I'll just catch up.
-And that's it finished.
Not everything was awful in 2011. There was some good stuff on telly.
To pick some examples at random, there was The Hour,
a saga of impassioned reporters in the '50s starring Ben Wishaw, Romola Garai and Fred West,
who also popped up in harrowing bleak-'em-up Appropriate Adult.
-It's about the world's nastiest Hobbit.
-All right, nine.
There was also eye-opening teach-'em-up Educating Essex
and shocking melancholy with nostalgia-fest This Is England '88.
And there was that bakery thing.
There was this show, right, which was like MasterChef with baking.
The Great British Bake Off. Just baking. It was good,
but particular. Like living in a future with only baking allowed.
You weren't allowed to fry anything. No frying.
If you tried to fry something, they'd take you round the back and shoot you. Bang, back of the head.
-On your marks, get set...
There was all this jeopardy, like will the pastry be too tough?
Or will they forget to use pastry? Anything could happen.
They might knock over a pan or go mad and fuck the oven.
It all had this great footage of things coming out of ovens and people eating them
and squirrels' bollocks. And pies and cakes. It was class.
If you won, you got to run a Greggs.
By November, we'd all had just about enough of 2011,
but maybe things would cheer up. Maybe they wouldn't.
The global economy was lurching along like a dying dog with a harpoon in its gut.
Little wonder people were so angry when confronted by scenes like this
as a slick hobby trader blurted out a few uncomfortable home truths.
This is not a time right now to think the government will sort it out. They don't rule the world.
-Goldman Sachs rules the world.
-Fortunately, he's just some clown.
If you look at the professionals, you'll see they know precisely what they're doing... Oh, Christ!
The Smurfs opening the Stock Exchange this morning.
Surreal coverage like this added to the sense of catastrophe.
The most boring apocalypse ever. Numbergeddon. It doesn't help that the numbers are either too massive
-or too small.
-The European Central Bank has raised its key interest rate by 0.25% to 1.25%.
Because digits are dull, news used dramatic language to convey terror.
Billions more wiped off the markets in the week the world stared into the abyss of recession again.
The economy was continually "on the brink" or "gazing into the abyss" or "teetering on the precipice"
or "gawping over the brink of both the abyss and the precipice into a bottomless pit
"of decaying banknotes being pecked at by vultures with coins for eyes".
There was one financial train wreck after another. Ireland, Portugal and, of course, Greece.
Greece was the Enron of Europe and things looked awful, but brilliant for TV news
as it added panic and fire. Greece does catch fire easily. Ask anyone who's made chips.
Next it was Italy, which had a liquidity problem,
possibly because its leader spent years trying to spurt all the liquid out of his body.
-But now he was in a hole he hadn't cheerfully lubricated first.
-Silvio Berlusconi resigns.
While throughout the Arab world leaders were ousted by the people, in Europe it was by cold numbers
and the financial buggeration keeps on buggering. We'll end up with a medieval bartering system
where you trade sexual favours for food. Sainsbury's will be grim,
everyone standing at the checkout tearfully masturbating for a fruit drink.
Berlusconi would be in his element. Not the first time he's tossed off over an innocent smoothie.
A frank edition of This Morning highlights the importance of prostate exams
by examining a famous anus.
Mr Paul Ross looked remarkably relaxed as he got the finger
and Phillip Schofield stood rigidly still wearing the terse expression
of a man witnessing an unconventional new puppet show.
I'm just sliding my finger in. I'm into the rectum now.
Feeling the back of his prostate gland, which is smooth, it's not enlarged.
A tenner if you flick his kidneys.
-You have to go quite deep.
-Sniggering aside, this did much to raise awareness
of stinky winky finger bum.
There was this thing with Hugh Grant and Alan Partridge,
but I didn't really get it. It didn't even have a theme tune.
They just moaned about newspapers for hours. Rubbish.
-December means one thing and the Christmas adverts had already been on for six
In a commercial twice as depressing as the average DEC famine appeal, Littlewoods destroyed the Santa myth
with this horrible musical where kiddie winks reveal who really doles out presents.
-# Who put an Xbox under the tree?
-Who got a Fijit just for me?
# And who put a laptop on Grandpa's knee?
-# My mother. #
-Mum was active in the looting.
Meanwhile, in this alarming sales pitch, Lord Frederick Flintoff builds a supermarket,
which he reckons will make people come.
-If you build it, people will come.
-Because they want Christmas to be special.
-Well, I suppose it would be.
-They'll come for the fresh British turkey.
-And the British beef.
-Oh, that's disgusting!
-They'll come for the Stilton. And a Panettone.
-Doesn't take much to make these
-They'll come for the game pie.
-And the Christmas quiche!
-People will most definitely come.
-As long as they don't come on the food. Someone has to eat that.
I'll do the jokes!
Speaking of expelling liquid, this melancholy tale reduced millions to tears.
This made people cry. We cry at adverts for shops!
Weeping IQ points out of our bodies.
Worse still, it's a dog's head in that box. He killed it in July and he's been waiting.
Something about this reminds me of the Hammer House of Horror episode The House That Bled To Death.
-I wish that was happening.
-Where the hell did you get that?
-Hooray for Christmas!
Well, that's it for 2011. Happy New Year, unless you're watching on the iPlayer.
Why didn't you watch it on proper TV? It's not a video game. This is your life. Go away!
Subtitles by Subtext for Red Bee Media Ltd - 2011
Email [email protected]
Charlie Brooker takes a comedic look back at the hectic events of 2011 - a mad year of royal weddings, Gypsy Weddings, riots, phone-hacking and Desperate Scousewives. With contributions from Doug Stanhope, Adam Curtis and Brian Limond.