10 o'clock every Thursday night will be aware of the 30 minute audiovisual onslaught that unfolds on our TV screens. The perpetrator: comedian, presenter, writer and professional angry man Charlie Brooker; the programme: Weekly Wipe.
Every week Brooker, with a helping hand from comedians Doug Stanhope, Limmy (Brian Limond), Jake Yapp (and others), takes a bit of a sideways and cynical look on what the week's TV has churned out; from the news to reality TV to adverts. And he does so beautifully.
At this point I must quickly state, this isn't going to be the type of review you're anticipating. In fact, it isn't really a review; we get quite enough of them. From here on in, I'm just going to be ridiculously one-sided and say how fantastic it is. But not for the simple reason that it draws a laugh or two. For me, it goes much, much deeper. It's not just a comedy or satire programme, it's 30 minutes of (almost) serious social commentary.
You might love Charlie Brooker, you might loathe him, but the fact is he and his show are really quite remarkable, because it really takes apart the horrendous products of modern television and really hits home the issue of shoddy mainstream journalism, something that many of us let easily slip by. What makes it terrific is Brooker's dry, slightly dark delivery; he's certainly merciless, and doesn't let anything go. Deep down, his programme is heavily critical of the culture industry, and thank goodness we have something on our screens that is.
Most recently, we saw Brooker slam the mainstream news channels of the States (which isn't new, in all fairness). And rightly so. They are cringeworthy, pathetic, and are not worthy of being deemed sources of news, but rather trivia and lazy commentary. It was particularly shocking to see him point out an instance in which one news anchor was discussing the NSA situation with another commentator from the World Economic Forum in Davos, only to interrupt the discussion with the 'news' that obnoxious human drone (or 'pop-star' to use his preferred title. Brooker so eloquently described him as "another nauseating butter-wouldn't-melt pop-weasel") Justin Bieber had been arrested. I was at a total loss for words. And it didn't even stop at one channel. Right across American T.V., there was a veritable feast of stomach-turning coverage, and of course Brooker immediately went after them for the shoddy, trivial and nauseating 'journalism' it was.
Brooker also meticulously deconstructs the mind-numbing products of modern advertising - the TV spot. Then again, what decent human being wouldn't call out the shoddily thrown together, cheesy jingles that are put out by insurance firms and cereal people. I mean, who the hell would think it a good idea to stick choreography into an advert for 'First4Lawyers'?
But I digress.
The content of the programme, mixed with Brooker's superb delivery, cutting remarks and vivid imagery makes for an excellent synthesis of much needed, to-the-point cultural criticism. Although the series is, regrettably, now during to a close, its sharp criticism of the manufactured, meaningless dross prevalent in our society should always resonate.
I do hope Brooker continues his anti-TV crusade for as long as possible. We sure need it.
Charlie Brooker's Weekly Wipe returns on Thursday night for its final episode, 10p.m., on BBC2.Suggest a correction