Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones, creators of Black Mirror– and, by extension, Bandersnatch – recently revealed lots of behind the scenes info about the film and a bit about earlier episodes. In an interview with The Independent, the pair speak about the impracticalities of earlier attempts at interactive films, as well as the logistics of filming Bandersnatch (the 90 minutes most viewers actually see had five hours of filming behind them).
Maybe more interesting than the Bandersnatch chat, though, is the reveal of scrapped ideas for earlier Black Mirror episodes. One idea that inspired part of Bandersnatch was one that never made it into the series 3 episode “Playtest” (the one where a man tests a mind-warpingly realistic video game).
“Playtest”, Brooker reveals, was originally supposed to be a sort of interactive experience in itself; watching it through a second time would unlock a “nightmare mode”. “In the scene where Cooper, the character played by Wyatt Russell, is going mad in the house, there was originally a bit where he literally discovers he’s a character in an episode of Black Mirror,” Brooker explains. “He’s told what it is and he’s shown characters from other episodes who are there in the house with him.”
In the end, though, he says (in typical Charlie Brooker fashion) that he decided “it would be a bit w***ky”. And there’s another, more practical reason the idea never turned up in series three as well; after writing it, Brooker says he thought: “F***, that’s gonna be impossible. Let’s not do that.”
It’s probably a good thing that it was saved for Bandersnatch then, where the whole interactivity concept could be executed as well as it deserves.