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Posts Tagged ‘Dead Set’

Charlie Brooker – How To Report The News

Posted by LiveFor on January 29, 2010

Charlie Brooker is the genius behind ScreenWipe, Dead Set and NewsWipe amongst other things. Here he displays how every news report you’ve ever watched is put together. Very true and very funny

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Four Lions – Photo from Chris Morris’ new film

Posted by LiveFor on July 17, 2009

From the brain wrong that brought you Jam, The Day Today and Brass Eye (all works of genious in my opinion) comes the film Four Lions.

Described by Bleeding Cool as a “comedy of terror”, it’s the story of four North England young Islamic extremists and their attempts to create a terrorist atrocity, focusing on the errors, mistakes, clashes and diversion common to any project that, well, involves people.

So controversial and highly funny as usual. One of the policemen appears to be the actor Kevin Eldon (TMWRNJ, Dead Set, Big Train and more) and he’s always brilliant.

Bleeding Cool also had this about the film:

In three years of research, Chris Morris has spoken to terrorism experts, imams, police, secret services and hundreds of Muslims. Even those who have trained and fought jihad report the frequency of farce. At training camps young jihadis argue about honey, cry for their mums, shoot each other’s feet off, chase snakes and get thrown out for smoking. A minute into his martyrdom video, a would-be bomber looks puzzled and says “what was the question again?” On millennium eve, five jihadis set out to ram a US warship. They slipped their boat into the water and carefully stacked it with explosives. It sank.

Terrorist cells have the same group dynamics as stag parties and five a side football teams. There is conflict, friendship, misunderstanding and rivalry. Terrorism is about ideology, but it’s also about berks.

Four Lions is a funny, thrilling fictional story that illuminates modern British jihad with an insight beyond anything else in our culture. It plunges us beyond seeing these young men as unfathomably alien. It undermines the folly of just wishing them away or alienating the entire culture from which they emerge. It understands how terrorism relates to testosterone. It understands jihadis as human beings. And it understands human beings as innately ridiculous. As Spinal Tap understood heavy metal and Dr Strangelove the Cold War, Four Lions understands modern British jihadis.

I think this will be one to watch.

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Charlie Brooker’s Response to Simon Pegg’s thoughts on Dead Set.

Posted by LiveFor on November 10, 2008

Here is what Charlie Brooker had to say after hearing Simon Pegg’s thoughts on Dead Set.

Speaking of fantasy worlds, apologies for being:

a) indulgent and b) nerdy, but I have to defend myself here. Last week Simon Pegg wrote a piece for this paper complaining about the running zombies in my preposterous horror series Dead Set. Proper zombies don’t run, they walk, he said. I was all ready to write a stinging riposte until I read his article all the way through and realised it was dauntingly well-argued. So I’ll keep this short and combative and hope I get away with it.

Simon: your outright rejection of running zombies leaves you exposed, in a very real and damning sense, as a terrible racist. And if the recent election of Obama has taught us one thing, it’s that the age of such knee-jerk prejudice is firmly behind us. Still, let’s indulge your disgraceful bigotry for a moment by assuming speedy zombies need defending, and list the reasons why ours ran, shall we?

1) I like running zombies. I just do.

2) They HAD to run or the story wouldn’t work. The outbreak had to knock the entire country out of action before the producers had time to evacuate the studios.

3) We had to clearly and immediately differentiate Dead Set from Shaun of the Dead, which had cornered the market on zombie-centric horror-comedy. Blame yourself, Simon: if you’d made that film badly, it wouldn’t have been so popular, and drawing a distinction wouldn’t have been an issue. Each time one of our zombies breaks into a sprint, it’s your own stupid talented fault.

4) Even George Romero, the godfather of zombies, bent the rules from time to time. Witness the very first zombie in Night of the Living Dead, which moves at a fair old whack and even picks up a rock to try to smash a car window. Or the two kiddywink zombies in Dawn of the Dead, who burst out of a room and run – yes run – towards Ken Foree. I know you saw these scenes. You know you saw these scenes. And you also know that if this were a trial, this would be the moment where you splutter in the witness box and admit you’re completely wrong.

5) Running zombies are, to be frank, cheaper than stumbling ones. You only need one or two to present a massive threat. I love a huge mass of shambling undead as much as the next guy, but we couldn’t afford that many crowd scenes. The original plan was to set the final episode six months in the future, by which time the zombies were badly decayed and could only shuffle (although “freshies” would still run), but budget and time constraints ruled this out. Which would you rather see – running zombies or absolutely no zombies at all?
Hmm? HMM?

Face facts. It’s time to embrace diversity, Simon. Make room in your heart for all breeds of zombie. Except ones that talk. They’re just silly.

What type of zombie do you prefer?
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Simon Pegg talks about Dead Set and why he doesn’t like running Zombies

Posted by LiveFor on November 10, 2008

Thanks to Del for sending me this from The Guardian last week. It’s Simon Pegg’s (Spaced, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Star Trek) take on Charlie Brooker’s zombie series, Dead Set, that was on E4 the other week. I really enjoyed the series and like both slow and fast zombies (the latter are particularly unfair though for any survivors of the zombie apocalypse). Here’s what the Peggster had to say on the whole thing:

As an avid horror fan, I found the prospect of last week’s five-night TV zombie spectacular rather exciting. Admittedly, the trailer for E4’s Dead Set made me somewhat uneasy. The sight of newsreader Krishnan Guru-Murthy warning the populace of an impending zombie apocalypse induced a sickening sense of indignation. Only five years previously, Edgar Wright and I had hired Krishnan to do the very same thing in our own zombie opus, Shaun of the Dead. It was a bit like seeing an ex-lover walking down the street pushing a pram. Of course, this was a knee-jerk reaction. It’s not as if Edgar and I hadn’t already pushed someone else’s baby up the cultural high street – but that, to some extent, was the point. In Shaun of the Dead, we lifted the mythology established by George A Romero in his 1968 film Night of the Living Dead and offset it against the conventions of a romantic comedy.

Still, I had to acknowledge Dead Set’s impressive credentials. The concept was clever in its simplicity: a full-scale zombie outbreak coincides with a Big Brother eviction night, leaving the Big Brother house as the last refuge for the survivors. Scripted by Charlie Brooker, a writer whose scalpel-sharp incisiveness I have long been a fan of, and featuring talented actors such as Jaime Winstone and the outstanding Kevin Eldon, the show heralded the arrival of genuine homegrown horror, scratching at the fringes of network television. My expectations were high, and I sat down to watch a show that proved smart, inventive and enjoyable, but for one key detail: ZOMBIES DON’T RUN!


I know it is absurd to debate the rules of a reality that does not exist, but this genuinely irks me. You cannot kill a vampire with an MDF stake; werewolves can’t fly; zombies do not run. It’s a misconception, a bastardisation that diminishes a classic movie monster. The best phantasmagoria uses reality to render the inconceivable conceivable. The speedy zombie seems implausible to me, even within the fantastic realm it inhabits. A biological agent, I’ll buy. Some sort of super-virus? Sure, why not. But death? Death is a disability, not a superpower. It’s hard to run with a cold, let alone the most debilitating malady of them all.


More significantly, the fast zombie is bereft of poetic subtlety. As monsters from the id, zombies win out over vampires and werewolves when it comes to the title of Most Potent Metaphorical Monster. Where their pointy-toothed cousins are all about sex and bestial savagery, the zombie trumps all by personifying our deepest fear: death. Zombies are our destiny writ large. Slow and steady in their approach, weak, clumsy, often absurd, the zombie relentlessly closes in, unstoppable, intractable.


However (and herein lies the sublime artfulness of the slow zombie), their ineptitude actually makes them avoidable, at least for a while. If you’re careful, if you keep your wits about you, you can stave them off, even outstrip them – much as we strive to outstrip death. Drink less, cut out red meat, exercise, practice safe sex; these are our shotguns, our cricket bats, our farmhouses, our shopping malls. However, none of these things fully insulates us from the creeping dread that something so witless, so elemental may yet catch us unawares – the drunk driver, the cancer sleeping in the double helix, the legless ghoul dragging itself through the darkness towards our ankles.


Another thing: speed simplifies the zombie, clarifying the threat and reducing any response to an emotional reflex. It’s the difference between someone shouting “Boo!” and hearing the sound of the floorboards creaking in an upstairs room: a quick thrill at the expense of a more profound sense of dread. The absence of rage or aggression in slow zombies makes them oddly sympathetic, a detail that enabled Romero to project depth on to their blankness, to create tragic anti-heroes; his were figures to be pitied, empathised with, even rooted for. The moment they appear angry or petulant, the second they emit furious velociraptor screeches (as opposed to the correct mournful moans of longing), they cease to possess any ambiguity. They are simply mean.


So how did this break with convention come about? The process has unfolded with all the infuriating dramatic irony of an episode of Fawlty Towers. To begin at the beginning, Haitian folklore tells of voodoo shamans, or bokors, who would use digitalis, derived from the foxglove plant, to induce somnambulant trances in individuals who would subsequently appear dead. Weeks later, relatives of the supposedly deceased would witness their lost loved ones in a soporific malaise, working in the fields of wealthy landowners, and assume them to be nzambi (a west African word for “spirit of the dead”). From the combination of nzambi and somnambulist (“sleepwalker”) we get the word zombie.


The legend was appropriated by the film industry, and for 20 or 30 years a steady flow of voodoo-based cinema emerged from the Hollywood horror factory. Then a young filmmaker from Pittsburgh by the name of George A Romero changed everything. Romero’s fascination with Richard Matheson’s novel I Am Legend, the story of a lone survivor struggling in a world overrun by vampires, led him to fixate on an aspect of the story leapfrogged by the author: namely, the process by which humanity is subjugated by the aggressive new species. Romero adopted the Haitian zombie and combined it with notions of cannibalism, as well as the viral communicability characterised by the vampire and werewolf myths, and so created the modern zombie.


After three films spanning three decades, and much imitation from film-makers such as Lucio Fulci and Dan O’Bannon, the credibility of the zombie was dealt a cruel blow by the king of pop. Michael Jackson’s Thriller video, directed by John Landis, was entertaining but made it rather difficult for us to take zombies seriously, having witnessed them body-popping. The blushing dead went quiet for a while, until the Japanese video game company Capcom developed the game Resident Evil, which brilliantly captured the spirit of Romero’s shambling antagonists (Romero even directed a trailer for the second installment). Slow and steady, the zombie commenced its stumble back into our collective subconscious.


Inspired by the game and a shared love of Romero, Edgar Wright and I decided to create our own black comedy. Meanwhile, Danny Boyle and Alex Garland were developing their own end-of-the-world fable, 28 Days Later, an excellent film misconstrued by the media as a zombie flick. Boyle and Garland never set out to make a zombie film per se. They drew instead on John Wyndham’s Day of the Triffids, as well as Matheson and Romero’s work, to fashion a new strain of survival horror, featuring a London beset by rabid propagators of a virus known as “rage”.


The success of the movie, particularly in the US, was undoubtedly a factor in the loose remake of Romero’s Dawn of the Dead in 2004. Zack Snyder’s effective but pointless reboot parlayed Boyle’s “infected” into the upgraded zombie 2.0, likely at the behest of some cigar-chomping, focus-group-happy movie exec desperate to satisfy the MTV generation’s demand for quicker everything – quicker food, quicker downloads, quicker dead people. The zombie was ushered on to the mainstream stage, on the proviso that it sprinted up to the mic. The genre was diminished, and I think it’s a shame.


Despite my purist griping, I liked Dead Set a lot. It had solid performances, imaginative direction, good gore and the kind of inventive writing and verbal playfulness we’ve come to expect from the always brilliant Brooker. As a satire, it took pleasing chunks out of media bumptiousness and, more significantly, the aggressive collectivism demonstrated by the lost souls who waste their Friday nights standing outside the Big Brother house, baying for the blood of those inside. Like Romero, Brooker simply nudges the metaphor to its literal conclusion, and spatters his point across our screens in blood and brains and bits of skull. If he had only eschewed the zeitgeist and embraced the docile, creeping weirdness that has served to embed the zombie so deeply in our grey matter, Dead Set might have been my favourite piece of television ever. As it was, I had to settle for it merely being bloody good.

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Dead Set – Your thoughts on episode one?

Posted by LiveFor on October 28, 2008


The Wife and I have just watched the first episode of Dead Set, E4’s new 5 part zombie apocalypse meets Big Brother and I must say I rather enjoyed it.

It started off with a Big Brother group of housemates arguing on eviction night and then cut to behind the scenes at the staff working on the show. As they near broadcast time we see news reports of violence spreading in Britain and we, the viewer, get to see the zombie-ness slowly spread.

The virus gets to the Big Brother studio and the zombies lay waste to the staff and fans of the show. Only Jaime Winston’s characters, the director of the show and the housemates are still breathing by the end of the show.

The zombies are of the fast type and you could tie it in with Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake. Kind of what happened in Britain while that was going down.

The effects are really good and it did keep you gripped for the 70 minutes it was on. The housemates are suitably obnoxious and the few kills you see are suitable gory, especially the second death of the zombies (good use of a fire extinguisher).

I also liked how the zombies still watch the housemates on the TV or through the 2 way mirror or their own reflection. Not too subtle a way of saying that the viewers of reality TV are just zombies without the blood lust, but effective nonetheless. It wasn’t cheesy as I thought it was going to be and played it as a proper zombie story.

Now that the initial set up is out the way I look forward to seeing how they survive the apocalypse.

What did you think of the series opener? Let me know in the comments below.

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Dead Set starts tonight – Big Brother v Zombies

Posted by LiveFor on October 27, 2008

Charlie Brooker’s Dead Set begins on E4 at 10pm tonight. When I first heard about this I thought it was going to be absolutely dreadful. I’m still not sure whether it will be any good but the zombies look pretty convincing and it does feature the actor Kevin Eldon (Big Train, TMWRNJ). The above photo is of a zombie Davina McCall.

Britain has a big problem. The dead are returning to life and attacking the living. The people they kill get up and kill – and it’s spreading like wildfire. Curiously, there are a few people left in Britain who aren’t worried about any of this – that’s because they’re the remaining contestants in Big Brother. Cocooned in the safety of the Big Brother house, they’re blissfully unaware of the horrific events unfolding outside. Until an eviction night when all hell breaks loose.

Kelly, (Jaime Winstone) the production runner working on Big Brother finds herself caught in the impossible position of trying to fend off the walking dead alongside the remaining housemates, Davina herself, a host of former Big Brother housemates, her producer boss Patrick (Andy Nyman) and boyfriend Riq (Riz Ahmed).

Over the ensuing days, in a cruel reflection of the game show they thought they were entering, the contestants fall victim, one by one, to the hungry masses outside. Staying alive requires teamwork – which is tricky when you’re a group specifically selected by TV producers to wind each other up.

So the jury is still out on this one. I’ll be watching the first episode tonight to see whether it works or not and it runs all this week. Below is the latest trailer for it. What do you think of it? Let me know if you watch it tonight and whether you enjoyed it or not.

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Dead Set starts tonight – Big Brother v Zombies

Posted by LiveFor on October 27, 2008

Charlie Brooker’s Dead Set begins on E4 at 10pm tonight. When I first heard about this I thought it was going to be absolutely dreadful. I’m still not sure whether it will be any good but the zombies look pretty convincing and it does feature the actor Kevin Eldon (Big Train, TMWRNJ). The above photo is of a zombie Davina McCall.

Britain has a big problem. The dead are returning to life and attacking the living. The people they kill get up and kill – and it’s spreading like wildfire. Curiously, there are a few people left in Britain who aren’t worried about any of this – that’s because they’re the remaining contestants in Big Brother. Cocooned in the safety of the Big Brother house, they’re blissfully unaware of the horrific events unfolding outside. Until an eviction night when all hell breaks loose.

Kelly, (Jaime Winstone) the production runner working on Big Brother finds herself caught in the impossible position of trying to fend off the walking dead alongside the remaining housemates, Davina herself, a host of former Big Brother housemates, her producer boss Patrick (Andy Nyman) and boyfriend Riq (Riz Ahmed).

Over the ensuing days, in a cruel reflection of the game show they thought they were entering, the contestants fall victim, one by one, to the hungry masses outside. Staying alive requires teamwork – which is tricky when you’re a group specifically selected by TV producers to wind each other up.

So the jury is still out on this one. I’ll be watching the first episode tonight to see whether it works or not and it runs all this week. Below is the latest trailer for it. What do you think of it? Let me know if you watch it tonight and whether you enjoyed it or not.

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Dead Set – Big Brother with Zombies

Posted by LiveFor on September 20, 2008

This sounds like it will be truly dreadful. The website for Charlie Brooker’s zombie drama Dead Set, has gone live.

It has a couple of teasers besides the footage we’ve already seen and includes background for the whole story. It’s set in the Big Brother house, where the contestants are unaware of the rapidly spreading zombie plague outside, that is, until an eviction night – Dead Set official website.

“Britain has a big problem. The dead are returning to life and attacking the living. The people they kill get up and kill – and it’s spreading like wildfire. Curiously, there are a few people left in Britain who aren’t worried about any of this, that’s because they’re the remaining contestants in Big Brothers. Cocooned in the safety of the Big Brothers house, they’re blissfully unaware of the horrific events unfolding outside. Until an eviction night when all hell breaks loose.

Kelly, the production runner working on Big Brother finds herself caught in the impossible position of trying to fend off the walking dead alongside the remaining house mates, Davina, herself, a host of former Big Brother house mates, her producer boss Patrick and boyfriend Riq.

Over the ensuing days, in a cruel reflection of the game show they thought they were entering, the contestants fall victim, one by one, to the hungry masses outside. Staying alive requires teamwork – which is tricky when you’re a group specifically selected by TV producers to wind each other up.”

Source: Quiet Earth

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