Black Mirror (2011– )
99 user 37 critic

The National Anthem 

Prime Minister Michael Callow faces a shocking dilemma when Princess Susannah, a much-loved member of the Royal Family, is kidnapped.


Otto Bathurst


Charlie Brooker, Charlie Brooker (creator)




Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Rory Kinnear ... Michael Callow
Lindsay Duncan ... Alex Cairns
Donald Sumpter ... Julian Hereford
Tom Goodman-Hill ... Tom Bilce
Anna Wilson-Jones ... Jane Callow
Patrick Kennedy ... Section Chief Walker
Alastair Mackenzie ... Martin
Chetna Pandya ... Malaika
Alex Macqueen ... Special Agent Callett (as Alex MacQueen)
Jay Simpson ... Rod Senseless
Helen Fospero Helen Fospero ... Lucinda Towne
Lydia Wilson ... Princess Susannah
Sophie Kennedy Clark ... Lauren
Andrew Knott ... Brian
Allen Leech ... Pike


In a run-up to Christmas the British Prime Minister Michael Callow is woken up and shown a disturbing video. On it he sees that people's princess Susannah of Beaumont has been abducted and will allegedly be murdered unless he has sex with a pig on live television. An effort to trace the kidnapper on a deserted campus proves to be in vain and Michael dismisses his aides' suggestion that a porn star perform the bestiality with the PM's face digitally superimposed. News coverage and Internet tweeters go into overdrive as Michael ultimately does his duty, in a deserted room with one camera man and a seemingly contented pig. Despite being ordered not to look, millions of people tune in though their amusement soon turns to horror at what they see. Written by don @ minifie-1

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Drama | Sci-Fi | Thriller


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Release Date:

4 December 2011 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

16:9 HD
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Did You Know?


Charlie Brooker stated in an interview that he went "all through the farmyard" deciding what animal Callow (Rory Kinnear) would have sex with and even briefly considered a block of cheese. See more »


In the opening scene, a telephone rings with the single tone used in North America; British phones ring with a double tone. See more »


Alex Cairns: [en route to film studio] We've ratified the law. After midnight, it will be a criminal offense to store any recording or still images of the event.
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References Downton Abbey (2010) See more »


By Max Richter
From "The Blue Notebooks"
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User Reviews

Pigs might fly
21 October 2019 | by LejinkSee all my reviews

This has to be one of the most eye-opening pieces of TV I've ever watched. The premise is shocking to the point of unbelievability but a whole lot easier to accept now that the life-imitating-art story of ex-P.M. Cameron's university capers with a porker has come to light. Basically, a young Prime Minister, with similarities to let's say Tony Blair or the afore-mentioned then P.M. in waiting Cameron is woken up by the shocking news that the popular princess of the day, with similarities to let's say Princess Diana, has been kidnapped apparently by terrorists whose sole demand for her release is that said P.M. must commit a sex-act on live T.V. with a pig.

It's realistically shot in almost real-time, with social media fanning the flames as the story spreads, augmented by "Breaking News" CNN / Sky News-type television updates making more tense the looming four o'clock deadline for the P.M.'s moment of porcine truth. Behind the scenes, every possible way-out is gradually closed down to him and the fantastical finale proceeds with the twist in the tale (or should that be tail?) as the truth is revealed, in the process making sense of subtly inserted seemingly unrelated trivial premonitions in the lead-up.

As a commentary on celebrity culture, the eroded public perception of the status of politicians, the limits of censorship and just what people will and won't watch on their TV screens it's savagely on point, even more so today with ever more invasive reality TV shows given ever more network time.

A piece like this couldn't work unless two vital factors were in play, firstly that it's played arrow-straight by all the actors and also that there's leavening humour inserted too (evident even in the title of the episode, as we wonder whether the P.M. will get up for his monarch). Both these boxes are positively ticked leaving the only really exceptionable segment being where a female reporter has to sex-text images of herself to one of the P.M.'s insiders to get an exclusive. I wasn't totally convinced by the last scene either showing how the P.M and his wife were coping one year on as I didn't think it added anything to the story.

That said, I watched it with one jaw gaping and the other laughing at what I was seeing. This really does feel like it's pushing at the limits of television political comedy but rather like the depiction here of the various representatives of the British public unable to resist tuning in to watch, just you try and look away from this one once you've started.

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