Unlike most of you, it's a hard watch for me, because many years ago I received an email from Charlie tentatively asking if I would like to work on Series One of the show. That might sound rather surprising, but this was at a time when my career appeared to be in the ascendant, before I disappeared off a cliff for seven years, to hide away in the relatively anonymous world of kids TV.
I never heard from Charlie again... and then Black Mirror appeared to enormous critical acclaim. I harbour precisely zero resentment over this - not least because I watch Black Mirror now without any idea how I'd go about writing something that's quite so grown-up and intelligent. Plus Charlie is clearly more than capable of writing it on his own without any outside help.
Nevertheless, I'm not too proud to admit that I do suffer a slight pang of envy upon watching the show. Charlie and I started out in a similar place, as games journalists with a bit of a cartoonist background... yet our paths diverged massively. Whereas I went on a journey that led to me writing the tainted chalice that was Pudsey The Dog: The Movie, Charlie simply went from strength to strength - either as a journalist, TV presenter, or screenwriter. Somehow, he had the career that people told me I was going to have. It's like some Shakespearean tragedy.
I related all of this to my other half last night, who asked me what exactly it is that I would want from writing something like Black Mirror, given that it isn't what I generally seem to want to do with my time. After some soul-searching, I concluded that the thing I'd want is this: mainstream respect.
"Well, if it's mainstream respect you want, you're going about it the wrong way," she hooted, wiping away the tears of mirth.
Nevertheless, this fired me up, to prove to her - and my peers - that I have what it takes to write a grown-up sci-fi fable about the inherent dangers of technology, complete with a twist. And I present that for you now. This is Mr Biffo's Brown Mirror...
GUY BJORMAL - a normal guy - is sitting at his computer, working, when the smartphone on the desk next to him DINGS.
GUY: What's that? A ring-a-ding-ding? What could that mean? Hmm. Hmm.
Guy starts stroking his chin, curious, and stares at the ceiling for countless hours. Then:
GUY: I guess there's only one way to find out (what it means) - I must pick up my phone and discover the source of that ding!
Guy picks up his phone, and reads the message that has appeared on the screen: "CONGRATULATIONS! YOU HAVE WON A LIFETIME'S SUPPLY OF VR HEADSETS! CLICK HERE TO RECEIVE YOUR PRIZE"
GUY: Wow! A lifetime's supply of VR - aka virtual reality? I'm the luckiest boy around. I'm gonna quit my job and go live the VR dream!
Guy starts hollering and whooping. He stands on his desk and mocks his colleagues with a lewd and unnecessary dance.
GUY: US-A! US-A!
Guy's celebrations are so intense that he begins hovering and buzzing, a few metres off his desk.
Guy's robot boss, MR FURIOUS, storms over, furiously, his metal limbs clanking and straining as he drags himself on his stomach towards Guy.
MR FURIOUS: What's going on? What's all this noise here, Guy? Why are you buzzing and hovering?
GUY: I quit, Mr Furious! You can stick your job right up your robotic swanneee-eee-ee! I'm a VR boy now.
MR FURIOUS: You can't quit... because I fire you!
GUY: Not if I fire me first! Later, loser!
Guy rushes out of the office, blowing raspberries and flicking V-signs at all of his colleagues as he goes. Steam erupts from the top of Mr Furious's head, along with a loud whistling noise. He brandishes an angry fist in Guy's wake. And then Mr Furious becomes so furious that he malfunctions, and starts clawing at his own face.
MR FURIOUS: 11101010111101011101011111! ERROR! ERROR! 1101010111!
One of guy's CO-WORKERS rolls her eyes, and sighs.
WORKER: Technology! It'll be the death of us.
She gets an electric shock off her computer, and dies.
WORKER (dying breaths): Ow! So much pain, yeah?
EXT. FUTURISTIC OFFICE - DAY
Guy runs into the street, and stops suddenly. He breaks down in tears, oblivious to the electric cars crashing into one another, because their drive systems have contracted a virus.
GUY: What have I done? A lifetime's supply of VR won't pay my bills, or put food on my table. I completely overreacted just then. What a crazy loser I am! I suppose I could go back in and pretend I was just playing a prank on them, but I've already forgotten the door code. If only it were a normal door with a "PUSH" sign, rather than some stupid high-tech door... Sod all this technology everywhere! Sometimes I think it's a curse.
A malfunctioning drone flies into Guy's head, and gets caught up in his hipster beard.
GUY: Oh great.
Guy tries to remove the drone - and rips his entire beard off in the process.
INT. GUY'S HOUSE - DAY
Now beardless, Guy arrives home to his futuristic house, to find his living room full of thousands of VR headsets. He slumps.
GUY: You what? I didn't expect the lifetime's supply of VR to arrive all at once! What am I going to do with all this VR? I am really hungry, I suppose...
Guy tries to eat one of the VR headsets, but finds it hard to digest. He gives up.
GUY: This isn't working. This ain't no food, bruv. It isn't working at all. For realsies. I suppose I could see if there's anything to watch on the VR, and drown my sorrows in mindless virtual entertainment.
Guy picks up one of the headsets, and slips it over his eyes.
GUY: This is tres cool! I've already forgotten about all my problems and my hunger. Let's hope I don't starve to death while in this cray-cray VR realm!
INT. VIRTUAL WORLD - DAY
Guy's avatar looks around - he's in a beautiful, computer-generated, meadow. He gasps in awe, and bends down to pick up a flower. He sniffs it.
GUY: Doesn't smell of anything.
Suddenly, the ground splinters in front of him, a vast fissure spewing lava and sulphuric gasses.
GUY: Hello... What's all this?
A towering red DEMONIC FIGURE jumps out of the fissure, molten rock dribbling from the tips of his massive horns.
GUY: And who might you be?
SATAN: I am Satan - the ruler of this land!
Satan starts putting his hands over his eyes, alternating with one, then the other, while making a clicking sound with his tongue.
GUY: Yeah, a virtual Satan. Big deal. None of this is real.
SATAN: Oh really? Then let me ask you... what is real, and what is imaginary, guy?
GUY: Wait - how do you know my name?
SATAN: Eh? I don't know your name.
GUY: You called me Guy. Er, hello?
SATAN: Yeah. Guy. You know: because you're a guy. A man.
GUY: Oh, gotcha. Carry on, Satan.
SATAN: You see, I was not programmed by a person. The algorithms which created this virtual world simply absorbed all of the information on the Internet, and distilled it into a manifestation of the accumulated experience of humanity. I am that manifestation.
GUY: Don't you mean... guyifestation!? LOL.
SATAN: Good joke, Guy. Nice one. Sweet. Love it. Let's have some more of that, yeah?
GUY: Were you calling me by my name then, or calling me a guy?
SATAN: By your name.
GUY: I see. Yes. So, let me get this straight: what you are saying is that humankind is inherently evil, and that technology will only expose this flaw? And that you are somehow a metaphor for the evils of humanity, as revealed by the internet somehow stripping away the thin veneer of civility that separates us from being monsters?
SATAN: Something like that. Yeah. So in some respects, I am real - as real as any real thing.
GUY: Well, it has been nice to meet you, Satan, but I'm going to take off the headset now, and leave this virtual place. Have a nice day.
SATAN: Good luck with leaving. The headset had all this glue on the inside, so it's now stuck to your head forever.
INT. GUY'S HOUSE - DAY
Guy rips the headset off, and looks around him, breathing heavily.
GUY: Hmmm. So the headset wasn't all gluey after all. Trust The Devil to tell a lie!
Guy looks at the clock on the wall.
GUY: Wow. All that stuff felt like it went on for ages, but only one second has passed.
There's a knock at Guy's door. He frowns, and answers it. Standing outside his house is a scruffy dog, with a deformed jaw.
GUY: Who are you?
PUDSEY: I am Pudsey The Dog. And I am here to do you a dance.
Pudsey stands on his hind legs, and does a dance. Guy starts clapping and dancing, and stamping his feet.
GUY: Yeah, go for it, Pudsey! I'm loving your work!
Pudsey starts singing a song:
I'm Pudsey the dog,
I can dance on the spot,
But can't do much else,
That's okay I guess,
I'm pretty bad at conveying emotion,
But I'll dance for treats!
It's a lifetime in panto for me!
I'll be dead within ten years,
Because dogs don't live too long,
I'll probably have arthritis and won't be able to dance during my twilight years,
But that's okay,
Because I'm gonna dance right now like there's no tomorrow,
Pudsey stops dancing and singing.
GUY: Well done, Pudsey. You've really given me something to think about. I'm going to embrace every moment of my life, and not waste a second on frivolous pursuits like VR, or video games, or apps. Excellent work.
Pudsey shivers and dies.
GUY: Oh no! No sooner has Pudsey opened the door to a new life for me than he has carked it. I'd better hide his body in case the police find it, and accuse me of doing a murder.
Guy looks around for a suitable hiding place - but the VR headsets are piled high.
GUY: Just great. The VR headsets are blocking all the suitable hiding places. There's only one thing for it. I'll have to do this the old-fashioned way!
Guy starts eating Pudsey. Time passes.
Guy has all but eaten Pudsey - all that remains is his rear left leg.
GUY: One more part of Pudsey left to eat, and then I can get on with my new life.
Guy slathers Pudsey's leg with grey poupon, and shoves it down his throat. Unfortunately, the leg gets wedged sideways in his throat, and he begins choking.
GUY: Ack! Splutter! I'm choking to death on Pudsey's rear leg! There's only one thing for it - I must upload my consciousness to the virtual world!
Still choking, Guy claws his way across the room, and grabs a VR headset. Turning blue in the face, with his eyes all scrunched up, and all spit and fur and that coming out of his mouth, he places the headset over his eyes, and hits the "UPLOAD CONSCIOUSNESS" button. Guy's physical body dies.
EXT. VIRTUAL WORLD - DAY
Guy's virtual avatar looks around him, and breathes a sigh of relief.
GUY: Phew! Looks like I made it.
Satan steps out from behind a tree. Guy screams.
SATAN: Welcome back, Guy! I'm gonna make the rest of eternity a right pain in your arse.
GUY: This has probably been the worst day of my life.