Since launching in 2011, Black Mirror has continued to evolve and change with the series tackling different genres. The show first started off on Channel 4 before moving to Netflix following a bidding war. Before the move to Netflix, Black Mirror fell into a much darker vein with its cynical take on technology. Among these episodes was Be Right Back, here’s a look at the instalment.
The episode starred Domhnall Gleeson and Hayley Atwell as young couple Ash Starmer and Martha respectively.
Ash was killed in a car accident and to cope with the grieving process, Martha reluctantly started using an app which recreated dead people from the social media interactions.
The app was useful to start with as Martha was able to speak to Ash from beyond the grave.
Despite mourning for Ash, Martha felt as if she and her boyfriend had never been apart.
To complicate matters further, Martha found out she’d fallen pregnant with Ash’s child before his death.
Things got more warped as Martha took the next step which saw a droid created to look and behave like Ash.
While Martha initially enjoyed having Ash around, she started to realise she’d lost her beloved boyfriend forever and technology couldn’t replicate him.
In the end, Martha forced Ash to live in the attic and only come out once in a while.
Speaking about the episode at a BFI Q&A from 2013, Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker said: “There were a couple of jumping off points.
“One was many years ago, someone I knew died and several months after that I was trying to clear space on a phone in the days when you had a limited number of contacts.
“I’m going through deleting numbers you don’t use anymore and up popped the name of someone who had died.
“I felt disrespectful of me to delete – that even though it was information I wasn’t ever going to use – as a strange reminder of somebody.”
He continued: “I spent a lot of time staying up later looking at Twitter and things like that. I thought, ‘What if all these people were dead and they were just being emulated by a piece of software? Would I know? Would I be able to tell the difference?’”
Brooker went on to do some research about artificial intelligence and concluded something similar to the technology of Be Right Back would eventually happen.
He added: “I suspect that will happen and it’s not too far a leap from that to imagine there could be speech synthesis.”
Brooker said the biggest leap would be to make a “flesh version” of a dead person, saying of the story: “I don’t know that it’s that far-fetched.”
Gleeson, who plays Ash, previously told Vulture how he’d been affected by working on Black Mirror.
He said: “There’s one moment where my character’s desperately searching for his phone. He just stands in the hallway and looks around blankly. I forget what the stage direction was, but it was really good.
“That’s when I realised I had done the same thing so many times, looking for my phone and feeling lost without it.
“So, yeah, I’ve tried to use my phone less since then. Sometimes, I fail. But at least I’m mindful of it.”
Black Mirror season 1 to 5 are streaming on Netflix now