Right now, good news often feels like gold dust, so hearing that Charlie Brooker is bringing back his award-winning Wipe series for a special look at the state of things in lockdown is a bit like finding a freshwater lake after crawling through the desert on your hands and knees for a month, wailing “whyyyyy” the whole time. Perhaps Brooker is stood just at the water’s edge, wearing a crisp white toga. “Drink,” he gestures. Hoarsely, gratefully, we respond: “yes …yes.” Things have gotten weird in the first paragraph again.
Screenwipe has been missing from our screens since 2016, when Brooker started focusing much of his energy on Black Mirror, which has become one of Netflix’s most popular series. In this 30-minute lockdown special, titled Antiviral Wipe and airing on BBC Two on Thursday the 14th of May at 9pm, the writer has confirmed that he’ll also draw in regular contributors Philomena Cunk (Diane Morgan) and Barry Shitpeas (Al Campbell).
The BBC revealed its plans with Brooker in April, saying it lured him “out of isolation, to go into isolation.”
“Charlie will be taking a typically sharp look at life in lockdown, in a show made during lockdown,” detailed the Beeb.
“As well as coverage of the crisis itself, he’ll also be looking at the things people are watching and doing to keep themselves occupied. The show will also feature Philomena Cunk (Diane Morgan) with her own very special brand of in-depth reporting, alongside Barry Shitpeas (Al Campbell) and other contributors who haven’t been told they’re doing it yet, but have no good excuse not to.”
Brooker had this to say about the welcome announcement: “The BBC asked me to supply a quote for the press release, which is what you’re reading now.”
It wasn’t the only spectacular news flowing from the BBC last month. The broadcaster also confirmed that comedian Matt Berry will reunite with his Toast of London accomplice Arthur Mathews to create four 15-minute episodes of Squeamish About…, which will follow up last year’s The Road To Brexit. Berry will present the weekly instalments as Michael Squeamish, making “creative use of archive footage and voiceover to create a unique, authored and surreally comic take on the subject matter.”
Sophie Willan’s Alma’s Not Normal has also been set up with a full series at the Beeb after the pilot garnered critical acclaim and reached over a million pairs of eyeballs in homes around the UK. The well-received comedy project centres on Boltonian Alma Nuthall and her family, and tackles difficult subjects like mental health and substance abuse.
“I’ve been overwhelmed by the fabulous response to the pilot and I’m so excited to be developing the series!” Willan said in a statement. “I’ve already been using the lockdown as a chance to get cracking so I’m just pleased to have the official go ahead! I can’t wait to get it made and share the world of Alma with everyone!”
We’ll bring you more information when it becomes available.