With Season 4 having dropped on Netflix just after Christmas, everyone’s talking about Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror again.
People are already spotting easter eggs which link all the episodes together, but eagle-eyed fans have also noticed something else about one of the new episodes - ‘Black Museum’ - namely that two of its three stories seem to have been predicted by none other than Karl Pilkington… a decade ago.
’Black Museum’ is essentially about a digital museum of human consciousness, and its story is told through three separate mini-stories, making it a bit like three episodes of Black Mirror in one.
The first story is about a doctor called Dawson, who has a device wired into his brain which allows him to feel the symptoms of his patients.
This helps Dawson work out what’s wrong with them even when the patient finds it hard to describe, but also leads to him becoming chronically addicted to pain.
Fans of The Ricky Gervais Show might have noticed that this concept is eerily similar to an idea described by Karl, first in 2008 audiobook The Ricky Gervais Guide to… Medicine, which was later adapted for the HBO animated series.
In that episode, Karl invents the ‘doctor machine’, a device which allows doctors to feel what the patient is feeling. As Karl puts it, he finds it hard to describe his symptoms “because I’ve been in my body for years”.
He may have been mocked at the time, bit now that old Brooker’s come up with the idea too, suddenly it looks like genius.
Pilkington said of his invention: “[I would] get into the machine and if he could somehow transfer my feelings into his body, then he’d go, ‘Oh, you’re not well at all’.”
The next piece of evidence from ‘Black Museum’ that Karl may have been well ahead of his time comes from its second story, about a family whose life is turned upside down when the mother is hit by a van, ending up in a coma.
Her husband makes a decision to try out a new technology which allows her consciousness to be transferred into his body, which allows him to constantly interact with her, and also lets her see and feel what he does.
Sounds a lot to me like an idea for a movie Karl came up with in 2007, titled The Love of Two Brains, and starring Clive Warren (a man who in fact Karl has invented) and Rebecca De Mornay.
In Karl’s movie, it’s the man who is struck by a bus and goes into a coma, and his consciousness is transferred into his wife’s body, but the idea is almost scarily identical.
And there’s more. If we go back to Black Mirror Season 3 episode ‘Men Without Fire’, about MASS visual augmentation implants, well, Karl predicted that too.
Back in 2009, before augmented reality even existed, Karl described how one day people might wear glasses which superimpose images onto what they’re seeing in the real world (a la Pokemon Go, etc.).
All this leads us down one path - Karl was never an idiot, he was just deeply misunderstood.
Is Charlie Brooker cribbing Karl’s ideas for his hit show, in the hope that no one will notice (no, he isn’t, it’s just a very strange coincidence), but maybe Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant should have given their bald friend a little more respect back in the day…
(Images: Netflix / ITV)