Last night Channel 4 aired the first of three programmes in the Black Mirror mini series.
The first episode, The National Anthem, one of two episodes that Charlie Brooker has written for the series, explored how modern technology such as Twitter & YouTube have made us all feel a bit uneasy about the world we live in and highlighted the impact these sites have on our lives.
Black Mirror: The National Anthem, directed by Otto Bathurst, attracted almost 1.9 million viewers last night, making it Channel 4's biggest Drama launch of the year.
Without giving too much of the plot away (in case you weren't one of the 1.9 million), the programme looked at how information is so quickly transmitted these days, with the use of sites such as Twitter and YouTube.
Prime Minister, Michael Callow (Rory Kinnear) is faced with a YouTube video showing that Princess Susannah (Lydia Wilson) has been kidnapped and in order to free her the Prime Minister faces a massive dilemma, and one that may jeopardise his career. With the clock ticking away, the race is on to find out whether the Prime Minister will agree to the kidnappers demands and whether or not Princess Susannah will be saved?
What struck me most when watching the programme is not only the speed at which something can spread on Twitter and YouTube, but also how the recent surge in 24 hour rolling news channels has helped shape the information nation we now find ourselves living in. I personally keep up with news on the internet first, mainly Twitter, and then news channels/websites second.
However it became apparent in The National Anthem that UKN (a fictional rolling news channel) played the largest part in spreading the story of the Prime Minister and Princess Susannah, with shots of Hospital workers and Pub punters watching the news footage included to highlight this point.
As a nation, there's no denying that we live in a society that is very much information led. We feel the need to know about everything and are constantly seeking the answers to many questions, that not so long ago were left answered.
So often now, in social situations, we ask each other who was that actor in that programme? How old do you reckon so and so is? When was this persons last hit single? ...and within seconds somebody has 'googled' the question and we are confronted with a lot more information than we actually need, and find ourselves reading short biographies of people to our friends and family.
Before, for example, we would never necessarily know the answer to 'How old is Charlie Brooker?' yet with a simple Google search we can find out he's 40, born on the 3rd of March 1971 in Reading, is married to previous Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq and attended the Polytechnic of Central London studying for a BA in Media Studies. All unnecessary information, but information we none the less have an appetite for and are glad we can find out so easily, without letting the question ponder as it once used to be.
All in all I found this programme incredibly entertaining and the programme did flag up questions and issues that had previously slipped under the radar. Having not necessarily intended to watch Black Mirror, I am now really looking forward to the next episode 15 Million Merits which is a satirical take on The X Factor. How do I already know what it's about? ...I 'googled' it of course!