So tonight is the last in the current series of Newswipe, Charlie Brooker’s caustic – I think everyone’s contractually obliged to refer to it thus – look at modern news and the way it’s presented. If anything, this second run has been even better than the first, with the ‘generic news bulletin’ segment being a particular highlight. Indeed, a YouTube clip of that section rapidly became an enormous global hit on the site, racking up well over a million views.
I’ve already mentioned that I think Newswipe is a very important piece of television as well as a wonderfully acerbic satire on modern news reportage. So for me it’s disappointing that it’s only on for six weeks at a time. Doubly disappointing is the fact that the final episode is a compilation show.
Now Brooker has talked at length about how hard Newswipe is to make, how much work goes into it, and how watching rolling news footage for hours upon hours has turned him into a husk of a man. So I’m not going to use the ‘l’ word here. I already feel like a demanding, insensitive prick for suggesting five shows isn’t enough. But compilation shows just seem utterly pointless. Obviously, the best case scenario would be to just have a normal edition of the show, or an extended edition with a round-up of the series’ best bits at the end. But for whatever reason that hasn’t happened.
I just wonder who this is aimed at. It’s only been on for five weeks, so people who watch the show regularly won’t have had time to forget the highlights. In this day and age, where we’ve got iPlayer and PVRs, it seems a nonsense to think that this would benefit someone who’d missed a few episodes – they’d only be getting a pick and mix of the series and could potentially miss something they might find informative or amusing (and then, should they want to catch up with the rest on iPlayer, they can’t, because the Beeb has seen fit to delete each episode the week after it’s shown). So presumably this round-up is for those who’ve not seen a single episode, who might decide to tune in for an abridged version of the series, so they can talk about it around the watercooler or whatever without having invested in the entire run.
In which case, compilation shows are for bellends. And I’d be surprised if Brooker hadn’t once written something along those lines.