Black Mirror (2011– )
25 user 26 critic

Fifteen Million Merits 

In a world where people's lives consist of riding excercise bikes to gain credits, Bing tries to help a woman get on to a singing competition show.



, (as Kanak Huq)




Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Judge Charity
Judge Wraith
Kai (as Colin Carmichael)
Selma Telse
Eugene O'Hare ...
Jaimi Barbakoff ...
Merce Ribot ...
Big Shot Registration Lady
Matthew Burgess ...
Botherguts Host


In a bleak, automated future Britain, Bing is one of millions who pedal exercise bikes to create energy as a living. Their currency is merits, tokens with which to buy food from vending machines and which can be increased or decreased according to which shows one watches on giant television screens. A popular choice is 'Botherguts', which humiliates over-weight citizens. But Bing uses his merits as entrance money to get sweet-voiced fellow worker Abi onto the TV talent contest 'Hot Shot'. Unfortunately, despite her talent, she is but one of a glut of singers and ends up on the porn channel 'Wraith Babes'. An enraged Bing saves up another lot of merits and gets onto 'Hot Shot' to denounce its falseness. But will he be seen as a new Messiah or a voice crying in the wind and forced to sell out? Written by don @ minifie-1

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Sci-Fi | Thriller





Release Date:

11 December 2011 (UK)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

16:9 HD
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Did You Know?


Allen Leech (Pike in in Black Mirror: The National Anthem (2011)) and Jessica Brown Findlay (Abi Khan) have starred together as lovers (Tom Branson and Sybil Crawley Branson respectively) in Downton Abbey (2010). See more »


At 13:35 when Bing washes his hands in the bathroom his merit counter initially shows 15,142,745. Instead of counting down from this value it immediately jumps up to 15,142,755 and proceeds on a programmed sequence to count back down to its starting value. See more »


Bing: I liked your singing the other day.
Abi: I was trying to sing so no one could hear me pee.
See more »


Referenced in Black Mirror: Shut Up and Dance (2016) See more »


Anyone Who Knows What Love Is (Will Understand)
Written by Irma Thomas
Performed by Irma Thomas
Also performed by Jessica Brown Findlay
See more »

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User Reviews

Multiple layers of darkness
2 January 2017 | by (Vancouver, Canada) – See all my reviews

I only recently came to Black Mirror and find it fascinating viewing them through the prism of all that's happened in the five years since this first season was produced.

The structure of this episode feels more like a piece of theatre. The scenarios in which the characters are placed are implausible and don't bear analysis (yes, of course using humans to generate electricity is not efficient) and the supporting characters are deliberately one- dimensional. But that's what makes it so effective.

Look beyond the obvious and specific commentary it provides on reality TV and body image obsession, and you'll find that what it really exposes is the fundamental futility of our modern consumption-driven existence. Our visceral needs to obtain more drives us to greater debt. Our debt forces us to work, pedalling frantically at life just to keep our heads above water. Like the man relegated to wear yellow and serve as the butt of crass humour, failure to keep up just pushes us onto a downward spiral from which we cannot return. And ultimately the fear of failure, of the oblivion of death, allows us to swallow our moral objections to that life when a path to greater comfort is offered to us.

And of course, at the end of the day, those in power know how to manipulate our weaknesses. They are caught up in the cycle, trapped themselves. The judges know they have to keep pushing the boundaries to keep people viewing. So their moral compass spins as wildly as our own as they struggle to stay ahead of the pack. In a world bereft of genuine feeling or emotion, what little genuineness exists is itself commoditized. Expressions of individuality, of innovation, become the intellectual property of others, are franchised and end up as dully ubiquitous as what came before.

But what choice do we have? Can we escape the treadmill? We are not fulfilled, but can we see a viable path to a fulfilling life? Are we better off mindlessly keeping the wheels turning so that the material necessities of life are still provided? Or do we take the risk and break out? Is there even anything outside the treadmill? Can we live outside of the economy that imprisons us? Is death really our only escape?

Or should we just resign ourselves to it? Become like the crass, mindless idiot who laughs along with the spoon-fed televisual mush? Can we suppress thoughts of betterment and make our lives tolerable by giving in to conformity? Can we let "I really had no choice" become a valid defence for our inhuman actions?

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