Charlie Brooker

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  • Trivia

    • Charlie does not drive.

    • Charlie is one of the members of comedy production company Zeppotron. The others are Ben Caudell, Peter Holmes, Neil Webster and Annabel Jones.

    • Charlie is a well known atheist and often refers to this in his articles.

    • Charlie went to the Polytechnic of Central London (now the University of Westminster) from 1989 to 1992. He studied for a BA in Media Studies and specialised in Television and Video Production. However, he never completed the course because he did not write his dissertation.

    • Unknown to many, Charlie helped to create the infamous paedophilia "Nonce Sense" special on the popular television series Brass Eye.

    • During the mid-1990s, Charlie wrote for PC Zone magazine.

  • Quotes

    • Charlie: Once, in my early 20s, I was enjoying an impromptu eruption of mid-afternoon "adult fun" with a girlfriend while a radio blasted away merrily in the background. Suddenly the music was replaced with a news bulletin - specifically a live police press conference in which two parents tearfully begged for the return of their missing son. As mood-killers go, it was on a par with looking down to discover your own genitals had suddenly and impossibly sprouted the face of Alan Titchmarsh, and he was looking back up at you and licking his lips and grinning and reciting limericks in a high-pitched voice.

    • Charlie: You'd assemble a collection of your favourite tunes (interspersed with a few ironic flourishes or comedy tracks), then spend an hour painstakingly inking the titles and artist names on the inlay card, which never had enough room on it unless you scratched away in tiny capitals, as though manually typesetting a newspaper aimed at squinty-faced ants in a dollhouse.

    • Charlie: Sorry to sound like a fusty old colonel randomly dribbling memories on his way to the graveyard, but I remember the days when carefully compiling a C90 cassette of personally selected tunes for a friend was a key bonding moment in almost any relationship.

    • Charlie: Later in the series Kemp meets a genuine pirate face-to-face, although from what I can gather, instead of standing atop a mainsail, desperately fighting him off with a sword, he's more interested in asking about the political and social problems that have created the phenomenon of modern piracy in the first place. Not fair. Far too sensible. But then Ross Kemp: Calmly Exploring The Topic Of Pirates wouldn't have looked so hot on the EPG, I suppose.

    • Charlie: I could do a documentary called Charlie Brooker: In Search Of Pirates in which I walked around Balham knocking on doors and asking if there's anyone called Bluebeard in, and while it might not rate too well in the Audience Appreciation Index, no one could reasonably complain about the accuracy of the title.

    • Charlie: Anyway, Ross Kemp. There's another brand name. He's become shorthand for "macho documentary on the kind of subject Alan Partridge used to fantasise about".

    • Charlie: With the possible exception of those who've recently been machine-gunned in the face and tossed overboard by one, everyone loves modern pirates. They've brightened up the news considerably by making it sound more like a swashbuckling adventure movie than a tuneless paean to mankind's perpetual failure.

    • Charlie: The only mistake women make is crediting men with far more mystery than they're capable of. We're impulsive yet thuddingly predictable, and you'd better learn to love us for it because that's just about all we can muster.

    • Charlie: Men love machines, because machines remind them of themselves. As a result, men quickly became very very good at building machines and then driving them round rather too quickly, shouting "Toot toot! Look at me in my brilliant car!" This was cute for a while, but the novelty's worn off now that the planet's teetering on the brink of becoming an inhospitable cinder.

    • Charlie: Women - why aren't you running the world yet? Frankly I'm disappointed in you. Men are still far too dominant for their own good, and consequently we've made a testosterone-sodden pig's ear of just about everything: politics, the economy, religion, the environment ... you name it, it's in a gigantic man-wrought mess.

    • Charlie: Wherever you go, TV ultimately tastes the same. And there's more than enough of it at home.

    • Charlie: Unless the weather's majestically terrible or some new 9/11 magnitude event takes place, there's absolutely no excuse for watching TV on holiday. If you're somewhere sunny, chances are you won't watch anything at all, unless you're such a dull football-liking git you think you'll lose the ability to breathe if you can't see the latest match via satellite in a horrific bar specialising in full English breakfasts and sugary cocktails surrounded by fellow pink-shouldered, cow-brained, hooting, awful wankers.

    • Charlie: The judges on the Greek incarnation of Britain's Got Talent are spectacularly weird.

    • Charlie: I'm not really here in Britain, because I'm on holiday at the moment. In Crete, to be precise, where everything's considerably warmer and sunnier and more congenial than jolly old London which, from my current perspective, consists almost entirely of looming grey building-shaped objects constructed from bin lids and misery.

    • Charlie: Only a war can save [Gordon] Brown now. That, or bursting into a flood of tears on breakfast television

    • Charlie: Knight Rider 2009 could've been a fantastic driving/RPG hybrid videogame. Instead it's a televised quack-fart. Let's use progress properly, people.

    • Charlie: In 1983 the original series of Knight Rider hit British TV screens. It was a show about a coiffured berk in a talking car, and it was awful. David Hasselhoff was the berk; the talking car was a Trans Am called "KITT".

    • Charlie: In 1983, if you wanted to play a videogame, you had to wait five minutes while your Sinclair ZX Spectrum loaded it from a tape. The game would consist of you guiding a crudely-animated car mechanic across three screens of irritating peril, collecting magenta spanners and listening to beepy sound effects. You'd die every four seconds, couldn't save your position, and when you got to the end your reward was a stark caption reading "Well Done", followed by the game starting all over again, except slightly faster.

    • Charlie: Sadly, our magic controllable world is an illusion bearing little relation to the one we actually inhabit, where bad things sometimes occur for no reason. But rather than come to terms with it, we stubbornly refuse to accept the entire concept of risk, hence our neurotic hunt for the nearest scapegoat the moment anything goes wrong - or even looks as if it might.

    • Charlie: I have a niggling fear of heights, or more specifically, a niggling fear of hurling myself off one. A paranoid voice whispers that, hey, you might inexplicably go crazy and lob yourself over the ledge for a short-lived maniacal chuckle.

    • Charlie: I can still remember the precise moment when I finally realised what a chronic control freak I am. It was a Wednesday, and I was calmly designing the uniforms for my proposed global Reich on a computer, but the mouse wouldn't work properly, so I stood up and repeatedly smacked it against the wall like a tiny plastic coconut, screaming insults at God, decrying his intolerable insubordination and telling him he was fired. And a shard of shattered mouse hit me in the eye and set me blinking uncontrollably. I didn't like that. I don't like "uncontrollably".

    • Charlie: I am terrifyingly beautiful. People often scream and hurl themselves under passing trucks the moment they spot my physical splendour gliding towards them. Embittered naysayers may claim my face resembles a damp curtain billowing in the squall of a bison fart, but these people have neither eyes nor souls. Let's be honest. I make David Beckham look like a sockful of piss.

    • (About one of the contestants on The Apprentice, 2009.)
      Charlie: He looks like he throws himself roughly on to the bed each night, hungrily moving his hands all over his own body, trying to kiss himself deep in the mouth. If it were legal or even possible to do so, he'd probably marry himself, then conduct a long-term affair with himself behind himself's back, eventually fathering nine children with himself, all of whom would walk and talk like him. And then he'd lock those mini-hims in a secret underground dungeon to have his sick way with his selves, undetected, for decades.

    • Charlie: Who isn't a prick at 22? I certainly was.

    • Charlie: I've had a pain in the neck, literally. Not just the neck, but the shoulder, elbow, fingers ... you name it, it's screwed. I'm told it's probably a herniated C7 disc, and it's a constant source of joy. Numbness, tingling, a ceaseless sharpening ache ... it's not agonising, more accumulatively infuriating; like sitting in a cinema with someone continually kicking the back of your seat. And you can't get out of your chair.

    • Charlie: The upper classes really shouldn't open their mouths on television. Whatever it is they're saying, all your brain actually hears is "Tra la la, I live in a bubble, tra la la, murder a fox, tra la la, Conde Nast Traveller, tra la la, Kensington High Street, tra la la." They should know their place and keep quiet.

    • Charlie: In many ways, Big Brother is the present day equivalent of a 1980s Club 18-30 Holiday - flirting, sunbathing, silly little organised games, and lots of people you'd like to remove from the genepool with a cricket bat.

    • Charlie: The BB house works as a kind of twat amplifier, you see. Once harnessed within, someone who in normal life would merely strike me as a bit of a git quickly swells in negative stature, eventually coming to symbolise everything I hate about our cruel and godless universe.

    • Charlie: Anyway, Big Brother 7: that was that. Big Brother 8 is scheduled to take place in the glowing centre of an irradiated war-torn wasteland formerly known as Earth. See you there.

    • Charlie: When we look at Big Brother, do we grasp what it means to be alive in the early part of the 21st century? No. It's a gaudy circus act in which apes get goaded with sticks while the public throw rocks at them. As the world floats ever closer to a third world war, TV shows like Big Brother are essentially little more than brightly-coloured, lightbulb-studded arrows, pointing away from the problem.

    • Charlie: (about Heston Blumenthal) He could probably make you a cloud sandwich if you asked. Or a blancmange made of numbers.

    • Charlie: (about his lack of tastebuds due to a bad cold) You could grind a dog's head and a shoe together into a paste and spoon-feed it to me, and I'd probably think it was chicken liver pate, provided I kept my eyes closed, and provided you plucked all the dog hair out beforehand, and provided you'd managed to find a pestle and mortar big enough to mash it all up in, and provided - look, it wouldn't be worth it. I'm just saying I can't taste anything. There's no need to get carried away. What's the matter with you? You're an idiot.

    • Charlie: Maybe you've put your faith in spiritual claptrap because our random, narrative-free universe terrifies you. But that's no solution. If you want comforting, suck your thumb. Buy a pillow. Don't make up a load of floaty blah about energy or destiny. This is the real world, stupid. We should be solving problems, not sticking our fingers in our ears and singing about fairies.

    • Charlie: A lot of people think right-wingers aren't capable of being amusing at all. Not true. Mussolini looked hilarious swinging from that lamppost.

    • Charlie: (about Gillian McKeith singing) I won't get over that in a hurry: my least favourite atrophied Hazel McWitch lookalike in the world, singing "I just want to make love to you", right there on primetime telly. She has to be the only person on Earth who can take a lyric like that and make it seem like a blood-curdling threat without changing any of the words.

    • Charlie: Right now, the theme is "Sex In The 80s", which must've been an exceptionally hard sell round Channel 4 towers. Mullets! Tits! Duran Duran! More tits! Bigger mullets! Ha ha ha! All you need is a few seconds of voiceover babble about "changing attitudes" and "social upheaval" laid over the top and hey presto: you've justified everything. It's not just a load of tit shots - it's a sociological investigation. With tit shots.

    • Charlie: 2007 is going to be the best year ever made. All wars will end. We'll cure cancer and Aids - twice. In February it'll rain banknotes for a week. In July, rabbits will learn to talk. Better still, they'll tell jokes - hilarious jokes, jokes you don't need to be a rabbit to appreciate, jokes offering a fresh, rabbity perspective on human foibles, making us unite as one, laugh at ourselves and frig each other off for the sheer joyous hell of it. In December, we'll make contact with a benevolent race of aliens who shit chocolate and piss lemonade.

    • Charlie: On November 2 [2008], the entire civilised world will be praying, praying Bush loses. And Sod's law dictates he'll probably win, thereby disproving the existence of God once and for all. The world will endure four more years of idiocy, arrogance and unwarranted bloodshed, with no benevolent deity to watch over and save us. John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr - where are you now that we need you?

    • Charlie: If love were a product, the queue at the faulty goods desk would stretch right round the universe and back. It doesn't work properly. The seams come apart and it's full of powdered glass.

    • Charlie: (about Barclays' rebranding in an attempt to make themselves appear less stuffy) If you're hell-bent on making your bank look and sound like a simpleton, a desk labelled Travel Money is still a bit too formal. Why not call it Oooh! Look at the Funny Foreign Banknotes instead? And accompany it with a doodle of a French onion-seller riding a bike, with a little black beret on his head and a baguette up his arse and a speech bubble saying, "Zut Alors! Here is where you gettez les Francs!"

    • Charlie: (about video games) You can't press a button to make Phil Mitchell jump over a turtle and land on a cloud (unless you've recently ingested a load of military-grade hallucinogens, in which case you can also make him climb inside his own face and start whistling colours).

    • Charlie: Don't accuse anyone with the temerity to question your sad supernatural fantasies of having a 'closed mind' or being 'blind to possibilities'. A closed mind asks no questions, unthinkingly accepting that which it wants to believe. The blindness is all yours.

    • Charlie: It's a rum state of affairs when you feel like punching a jar of mayonnaise in the face.

    • Charlie: When it comes to psychics, my stance is hardcore: they must die alone in windowless cells.

    • Charlie: If you truly believe you need to pick a mobile phone that "says something" about your personality, don't bother. You don't have a personality. A mental illness, maybe - but not a personality.

    • Charlie: PCs are the ramshackle computers of the people. You can build your own from scratch, then customise it into oblivion. Sometimes you have to slap it to make it work properly, just like the Tardis (Doctor Who, incidentally, would definitely use a PC). PCs have charm.

    • Charlie: I hate Macs. I have always hated Macs. I hate people who use Macs. I even hate people who don't use Macs but sometimes wish they did. Macs are glorified Fisher-Price activity centres for adults; computers for scaredy cats too nervous to learn how proper computers work; computers for people who earnestly believe in feng shui.

    • Charlie: Unless you have been walking around with your eyes closed, and your head encased in a block of concrete, with a blindfold tied round it, in the dark - unless you have been doing that, you surely can't have failed to notice the current Apple Macintosh campaign starring David Mitchell and Robert Webb, which has taken over magazines, newspapers and the internet in a series of brutal coordinated attacks aimed at causing massive loss of resistance.

    • Charlie: (about Nuts TV) It's just shit. Utterly, astronomically shit. It might even be made out of shit: the sets, the cameras, the lighting rigs - all actual, genuine chunks of crap, carved into shape by the unseen hand of some insanely misguided God. And powered by piss instead of electricity.

    • Charlie: (about the contestants on The Apprentice 2008) Lee: "Dumb as a cupboard." Alex: "An objectionable, buckpassing, jumped-up, passive-aggressive, know-it-all streak of piss with a short fuse, a sour mouth, and a petty, needling, finger-pointing demeanour. Unless you're a woman, of course, in which case he's a blameless dreamboat." Raef: "The absolute spit of Uri Geller staring at a pin."

    • Charlie: Class of 2008 is an aspirational youth-oriented docu-soap that follows a group of sickeningly privileged, jumped-up little pissdrips as they embark on various glittering careers in music, modelling, and clubland. It's like watching a roomful of monocled adolescent toff s loudly applauding their own farts. Only worse. Because farts can sometimes be funny.

    • Charlie: (talking about one of the contestants on Big Brother 2008) Mario looks like a Spitting Image puppet of Sly Stallone crudely whittled from a gigantic boiled ham by a madman in a hurry.

    • Charlie: All the male Gladiators have names that sound like gay nightclubs. Oblivion, for instance, sounds like a steaming 4am sinbox filled with strobe lights and shaved heads. But it isn't. It's a 6ft 3in bellend in black trunks.

    • Charlie: The Most Stomach-Churning Wholesale Disregard For Basic Human Dignity was flaunted by the DFS commercials, in which blameless out-of-work actors were forced to mime along to Nickelback's Rockstar - the musical equivalent of the last hot drips of salty diarrhoea to drip from your arse during a particularly violent bout of food poisoning. I've seen news footage of atrocities that managed to be less upsetting. Years from now, the participants will still be in therapy.

    • Charlie: The WTF? prize goes BBC1's Hole In The Wall, the least dignified, most unashamedly imbecilic gameshow in living memory. Apparently conceived by a three-year-old, it consisted of K-list celebrities in spandex contorting themselves into puzzle shapes in order to avoid being dunked in a pool of water. They failed 95% of the time, but the show carried on and on regardless, like a Super Mario cutscene stuck in a loop.

    • Charlie: Silliest Drama is a split decision. Rock Rivals is out because nobody saw it, which leaves in the red corner: Britannia High, ITVs sugary reworking of High School Musical. And, in the blue corner: the BBC's Bonekickers, which desperately attempted to make the world of archeology - yes, archeology - interesting and exciting by crossing it with storylines so preposterous they'd be laughed out of the room as too far-fetched at a SpongeBob SquarePants writers' conference.

    • Charlie: The Oh Christ, You Again award goes to Sky's revival of Gladiators. During the pre-publicity, they did their level best to make out that the entire audience had been rolling around in agony on its carpets for years, begging for a much-loved show's return. Really? That's like hoping for a present-day resurgence of rickets.

    • Charlie: The award for Worst Decision-Making In A Reality Show, goes to Sir Alan Sugar for his apparently random dismissal policy in this year's helping of The Apprentice. He kept Jenny in long past the point where it had become apparent she was a nasty piece of work, sacked Raef and Simon even though they'd done nothing wrong, and picked a well-meaning but patently idiotic whooping Gruffalo as his ultimate victor. Next year they might as well pull a name from his arse at the end of each show. I reckon they could keep the tension going as he fumbles around under the desk.

    • Charlie: The Award For Hilariously Annoying The Middle Classes, goes to Delia Smith for her BBC2 series Delia. The show largely consisted of her tipping tinned mince and frozen mash into bubbling cauldrons, ostensibly in an attempt to teach viewers how to "cheat" at cooking, but largely, I suspect, to deliberately put the wind up the army of self-righteous food snobs who've come to dominate the broadsheets over the past decade. Given their horrified reactions - one even claimed to have burned all their Delia books in protest - you'd have been forgiven for thinking she'd been shitting in saucepans. Even funnier is the fact that, what with the collapse of the economic system, the self-same huffers will probably have to spend the whole of 2009 eating out of cans anyway.

    • Charlie: Demons isn't The Wire, though. I'm not stupid (really, I'm not) but I had a hard time figuring out what was going on, and - more importantly - why. It stars Philip Glenister as Rupert Galvin, a sort of undercover agent waging war on the "half-live", a bunch of monstery-vampirey creatures that apparently live among us without us ever noticing. For no good reason, Rupert is American, though it could be to make the series easier to flog in the US, or possibly just to differentiate the character from Gene Hunt.

    • Charlie: The first week of January is an odd time for TV. For one thing, half the audience is suffering the traditional post-festive daze, lying sprawled across the sofa in a confused funk, blinking in slow motion, spittle trickling from the chin, lazily demanding fresh entertainment, preferably nothing too taxing, please. All of which makes it a good time for the networks to wheel out new hits or, conversely, sneak out clunkers.

    • Charlie: Only one thing's going to get us through 2009, and that's romance. And possibly cannibalism. But mainly romance. In case you missed the bulletin in your post-festive daze, let me bring you up to speed. According to the latest predictions, here's what we're in for this year: MISERY. Yes, not just misery, but MISERY. In capitals. Just like that.

    • Charlie: OK, so I didn't so much "meet" Coolio as serve him in a shop, but it still counts. It was some time in the early-90s when I was working in a video game emporium just off Oxford Street. We prided ourselves on being a counter-cultural sort of place. Staff chain-smoked behind the desk while the stereo blasted Aphex Twin into customers' faces. We stocked obscure Japanese grey imports on holier-than-thou formats, Jamma boards and secondhand British titles. Kids hung around playing beat-'em-ups and swearing. One day Coolio bounded in, bellowing at the top of his voice without even trying. I think he bought a copy of Samurai Shodown II on the Neo-Geo. He knew his games, did Coolio.

    • Charlie: Two years ago, almost to the day, I wrote a piece about the world's bizarre insistence on marrying me off, prompted by three separate incidents in which strangers chuckled at my shambling incompetence and suggested that what I needed was a proper sorting out, which could only arrive in the form of a wife. Cue much indignant spluttering on my part. For one thing, how did these strangers instinctively know I wasn't already married? Even gargoyles get hitched, sometimes. And for another, I didn't actually want a wife, thanks for asking.

    • Charlie: If watching 24 (Mon, 9pm, Sky1) is like being in a relationship - which it isn't, but bear with me - then this is the seven-year-itch period. For the first few seasons, you couldn't get enough of it; driven by raw desire, you even found its weaknesses charming rather than annoying. A subplot in which Kim gets chased by a mountain lion? You simply chuckled and forgave your beloved for being so silly.

    • Charlie: Alternatively, they could carry on patronising and nagging and prodding and hectoring until everyone in the country gets so utterly sick of it all they take up arms and start a violent revolution. Beating your way through a flank of riot police to smash down a government building with a sledgehammer burns off thousands of calories. And afterwards you can sit down in the rubble and skeletons eating mouthfuls of pie, secure in the knowledge that you've earned yourself a treat.

    • Charlie: Here's another few millimetres shaved from the national joy quotient: the Food Standards Agency is launching a scheme to get restaurants to print calorie information on their menus alongside the name of each dish.

    • Charlie: Consider Ludicrous Diversion, an Edge Media documentary which implies the 7/7 bombers weren't really bombers at all, but patsies framed by "the system". Rather than offering any hard evidence for this startling claim, it highlights minor anomalies in the official version of events, the police's reluctance to release CCTV footage, and references to past miscarriages of justice such as the Guildford Four, then expects the viewer to add two and two to make 25. It's like a lazy and badly made Power Of Nightmares, convincing only to the eagerly paranoid.

    • Charlie: Ask anyone with a Sky box: the problem with the multi-channel universe is how samey it all is. Hundreds of stations pumping out the same palliative mulch.

    • Charlie: Last week I watched the most frightening horror movie I've ever seen. It was about three hours long, and, incredibly, it all unfolded live. I'm talking, of course, about the inauguration of Barack Obama. Yes it was inspiring, yes it was uplifting ... but it was also genuinely terrifying on a very human level, because just like you I was watching it with the terrible nagging suspicion that he might get shot at any moment.

    • Charlie: The landmark sitcom Seinfeld was famously described by its own makers as "a show about nothing". But it wasn't really. It was a show about minutiae and neurosis and social transgression. And jokes. In fact it was a show about everything, brilliantly disguised as a show about nothing with a breezy, relaxed, sardonic style. That's why it's still such a great show, once you adjust your filter to disregard the infuriating slapped bass peppering each episode like a squelching fart cannon.

    • Charlie: You might expect a documentary fronted by [Ross] Kemp to consist of macho grandstanding and sequences in which he tries to stare the Taliban to death. Instead he spends most of his time blurting obscenities and quaking with terror; it's shit-scary and far from glamorous.

    • Charlie: The Apprentice throws up many questions. Such as: what's the plural of apprentice? Apprentii? Apprenticeese? Let's go with the former. And now we've established that, what's the correct collective noun for a group of Apprentii? A pillock of Apprentii? A wankel? A swagger?

    • Charlie: Noel's HQ - Noel's Party Headquarters, if you like - is the strangest programme on TV. A live Saturday night "shiny floor" show with conspicuous altruism at its core, it's essentially a cross between That's Life, Surprise Surprise, and some unmade episode of I'm Alan Partridge in which Alan snaps and runs into traffic with his shirt off, smashing windscreens with a cricket bat.

    • Charlie: The standard tuckshop brands of crisps are shameful things, to be eaten in secret on a car journey. Of course, the fey "gourmet" varieties - thicker, hand-cooked "artisan" crisps with flavours such as Aged Stilton and Ambassador's Port - are still considered acceptable by the food Nazis, provided they're served in a bowl at a cocktail party, surrounded by organic vol-au-vents and snobs. That's because our food neurosis is actually snootiness in disguise.

    • Charlie: Taglines are generally a lie. "A journey beyond your imagination" usually transpires to be a phutting clown car ride down Guffington Crescent, while "the movie event of the year" happens six times a month and refers to anything from "Abbott And Costello Meet The Ombudsman" to "Attack Of The 100ft Bum Monsters".

    • Charlie: Heston researches and cooks something absolutely psychotic, then serves it to a table full of celebrity guests (fittingly, a weird selection, encompassing Richard Bacon and Rageh Omaar). It's like a special edition of Come Dine With Me hosted by the unhinged artisan murderer from the movie Se7en.

    • Charlie: The Listener isn't a very good example of a high-quality American import. Mainly because it's Canadian, but more importantly because it's rubbish. In fact even the title is rubbish. You know why it's called The Listener? Because the main character listens to things.

    • Charlie: The most compelling character in any videogame is you, the player. And apart from you, who ultimately gives a toss about you anyway? Even God doesn't care. That's why he gave you that nose.

    • Charlie: Sky's Dermot Murnaghan spent a week travelling the UK by bike to see how the recession was affecting ordinary people. The item's name? Dermot's Economic Cycle.

    • Charlie: (About Robert Peston's delivery.) His speed up/slow down speech patterns make him sound like a man receiving a blowjob under the desk who's desperately trying to cover it up. Just like the chief of police in that scene in Police Academy.

    • Charlie: Things I've learned from watching the news, "If it bleeds, it leads". It's a cliche, but a depressingly accurate one. On the day thousands of people took to the streets of Northern Ireland to denounce violence, their efforts were shunted down the news menu by a lone German maniac's random shooting spree. Bad news wins.

    • Charlie: Sir Alan conducted the showdown like a gangland murder trial in a warehouse.

    • Charlie: If it wasn't for the Enlightenment, you wouldn't be reading this right now. You'd be standing in a smock throwing turnips at a witch.

    • Charlie: (after mistakenly insinuating that the President should be assassinated) My inbox overflowed with blood-curdling death threats, and it was all very unfunny indeed - a bit like recounting a rude joke at a dinner party, only to be told you hadn't recounted a joke at all, but molested the host's children, and suddenly everyone was punching you and you weren't going to get any pudding.