Quick book review: Screen Burn by Charlie Brooker

Charlie Brooker is the man behind the infamous TVGoHome site, where he invented television programmes such as Get Hen!, where contestants had to get a hen, and Daily Mail Island, where single mothers, asylum seekers and other targets of tabloid ire were torn to pieces by rabid Middle Englanders. Proving that life often imitates art – or at least, arse – even more bizarre programmes were actually broadcast, and in his new role as TV critic for the Guardian Guide, Brooker had to review such pinnacles of popular entertainment as Big Brother, I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, and the truly bizarre Touch The Truck. Screen Burn is a collection of these reviews, spanning the last three years.

Whether you’ll enjoy Screen Burn depends on your attitude to life. If you’re the sort of person who has a sunny outlook, believes that people are fundamentally decent and greets the dawn of a new day with a big smile, Screen Burn will make you weep hot, salty tears. If on the other hand you’re a twisted misanthrope with an abiding hatred of pretty much the entire human race, the book will make you laugh until your eyes bleed. Brooker doesn’t pull his punches: while other critics might suggest that a programme is below par, Brooker demands that the presenters be locked in a barbed wire cage with angry hyenas and rolled down a mountain. If – as John Lydon once sang – anger is an energy, then Charlie Brooker could power the national grid.

Guardian Bookshop link.