Black Mirror: Season 1, Episode 1

The National Anthem (4 Dec. 2011)

TV Episode  -   -  Comedy | Drama | Thriller
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Reviews: 8 user | 9 critic

The Prime Minister is faced with a dilemma when a member of the Royal Family is kidnapped.



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Title: The National Anthem (04 Dec 2011)

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Callow
Alex Cairns
Julian Hereford
Tom Blice
Jane Callow
Section Chief Walker
Chetna Pandya ...
Special Agent Callett (as Alex MacQueen)
Rod Senseless
Helen Fospero ...
Lucinda Towne (as Helen Morton)
Princess Susannah


In the run-up to Christmas the British Prime Minister Michael Callow is woken up and shown a disturbing video. On it he sees that people's princess Susannah of Beaumont has been abducted and will allegedly be murdered unless he has sex with a pig on live television. An effort to trace the kidnapper on a deserted campus proves to be in vain and Michael dismisses his aides' suggestion that a porn star perform the bestiality with the PM's face digitally superimposed. News coverage and Internet tweeters go into overdrive as Michael ultimately does his duty, in a deserted room with one camera man and a seemingly contented pig. Despite being ordered not to look, millions of people tune in though their amusement soon turns to horror at what they see. Written by don @ minifie-1

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Comedy | Drama | Thriller

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4 December 2011 (UK)  »

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16:9 HD
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And this little piggy went . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ?
31 December 2011 | by (Edinburgh.) – See all my reviews

Black Mirror was a selection of three tales linked by the idea of modern technology and just what the implications of our constant progress and ease of communication and media selection could be.

In the first tale, "The National Anthem", we have a particularly twisted look at just how people can nowadays get access to information and spread it around to the detriment of anyone wanting to keep a secret. The Prime Minister (Rory Kinnear) is put in a preposterous and awful situation when the sweetheart of the nation, a young Princess, is kidnapped. The Prime Minister is supposed to acquiesce to an absurd and horrific demand if the young lady is to be released unharmed but he hopes that the situation can be resolved before the deadline. The video of the demand cannot be kept secret - it was uploaded onto YouTube. The plans by the government to outwit the criminal tend to keep being spoiled by people texting each other or posting messages on Twitter. And the Prime Minister finds himself being constantly frustrated by a media that can make him loved or loathed depending on the spin given to the situation.

With a fantastic punchline that hammers home everything seen beforehand, "The National Anthem" makes for uncomfortable viewing even as it takes things over the edge and seems to tip into the comical (albeit comical in a blacker than black humoured way). Despite the implausibility of the situation being played out, there are far too many elements that are already all too easy to believe.

The cast are all very good (Rory Kinnear and Anna Wilson-Jones excelling as the husband and wife living at Number 10 when this horrible situation unfolds) and the direction by Otto Bathurst is just fine but this is definitely most easily recognised as coming from the acerbic pen of Charlie Brooker (a most talented writer and keen observer of the mounting inanity proliferating through every section of modern society). Fans of Brooker will certainly enjoy this piece but everyone should give it a watch, if only to remind themselves to perhaps not update their Facebook status with everything that they see around them.

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