Inside Black Mirror by Charlie Brooker, Annabel Jones, and Jason Arnopp

Inside Black Mirror is, unsurprisingly, the story of TV series Black Mirror, told in oral history fashion by its creators, directors and actors amongst others. Due to the anthology format of the series, the book goes through each episode individually, with relevant people’s comments and discussion, and it is all held together by the voices of Charlie Brooker (creator, writer, executive producer etc) and Annabel Jones (co-show runner and executive producer). The writing is combined with stills and design images, which form a useful way of remembering key elements of the wildly differing episodes whilst reading the book.

TV tie-in books can be a bit naff. The sort of thing that make an easy gift. However, this one is less naff. Basically, it is very interesting, an in-depth look at both the process of creating an anthology show and fighting to get further series made, and how the cast and crew managed to actualise the weirdness that is Black Mirror. Brooker’s comments on the ideas and how plot lines evolved are particularly good, showing how much editing, rethinking, collaboration, and being forced by circumstance can make amazing narrative elements. It’s also worthwhile to read about the issues with getting Channel 4 to keep making episodes, for something that so notably moved to Netflix. Naturally, the book can veer towards self-congratulatory (all these famous actors wanting to be in it, oh look at the Emmys we won, etc, etc), but is kept from going too far due to Brooker’s trademark self-deprecation and the banter between him and Jones, who are longtime collaborators.

Seeing as the world has “gone a bit ‘Black Mirror'” (as Brooker says in the book), it’s nice to remember that the series is created as an entertaining art form, playing with genres and characters, rather than a collection of predictions we should all be worrying about.