Warning: Contains spoilers for Black Mirror season four.
Karl Pilkington’s unfortunate pearls of wisdom may have earned him the title of An Idiot Abroad, but could he have predicted two stories from Black Mirror’s fourth season?
Sixth episode Black Museum sees the show channel its Christmas special by wrapping numerous mini-stories into one hour, before a devastating final act which spins the premise on its head.
The first of these mini-stories follows a doctor, Dawson, who has a device implanted into his brain allowing him to feel the symptoms of any patient wired up to a specific headset.
This technology allows him to determine what is wrong with a patient when they’re unable to verbalise or explain themselves, which is especially useful for those suffering cardiac arrest.
Sound familiar? Those who perhaps listened to 2008 audiobook The Ricky Gervais Guide To… Medicine, or saw it later on The Ricky Gervais Show, may have heard Karl Pilkington pitching an idea remarkably similar.
On the show, Pilkington tells Gervais and Stephen Merchant how he’s unable to say the illness he’s been suffering from ‘because I’ve been in my body for years’ – suggesting a new invention called the doctor machine.
This machine will transfer symptoms between patient and doctor – allowing them to diagnose any illness.
Karl says: ‘[I would] get into the machine and if he could somehow transfer my feelings into his body, [he could know how I feel] then he’d go, “Oh, you’re not well at all”.’
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While it isn’t exactly the implant Black Mirror depicts, its function is remarkably similar.
This isn’t the only case either, with Karl also having previously pitched an idea very similar to the second story in Black Museum.
The story follows a family who are left in despair after a mother is accidentally hit by a speeding van – leaving her in a coma with her consciousness trapped inside her body.
Seeing no other alternative, her husband tries out a new experimental technology which sees his wife’s consciousness inserted into his own head – meaning she sees, hears and feels everything he does.
Karl Pilkington weirdly pitched something similar on Ricky Gervais’ 2007 Fame Souvenir Program Podcast, titled The Love Of Two Brains.
In his film pitch, Karl says the story would follow a man who is in a coma after being hit by a bus, with the man’s wife agreeing to add his mind to hers.
The doctor in the film idea, played by Morgan Freeman, says, “he’s gone, but you’ll have his thoughts”.
There are some slight differences, like the gender swap and Karl’s idea eventually descending into a lesbian love triangle, but it’s still remarkably similar.
It’s worth noting how none of this indicates Charlie Brooker has pinched Karl’s pitches, but heck, someone needs to praise Pilkington’s barmy, yet actually quite great, ideas. Kudos all round.
You can catch Black Mirror season four streaming on Netflix.
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