How do you deal with it?
CB: As programme makers it’s difficult isn’t it.
AJ: With this obviously there is a degree of control you have to relinquish because you don’t know the order people are going to choose, or decisions they are going to make and that’s the ultimate control where you are trying to control a narrative and you can’t, so you have to make each ending feel satisfying, but so they build on each other. So when you go onto another ending it is bringing something new but also keeping your character consistent. Therefore maintaining the audience investment. So this is the film where you have least control which is what makes it experimental, which is why it is sometimes hard to discuss with people who have had one particular experience.
CB: It’s a strange one because I don’t know how many endings you should see. Probably more than one but it’s not really designed to give you just one ending then you walk away, but then its not the case that you should feel compelled to go through all of them.
AJ: But then it’s very satisfying when you do get to an end where the game is released and you’ve got the hard ending. We try to give people that encouragement because you want people to watch it all because you’ve created it all and its a cohesive world and cohesive story for Stefan. So one of the things we don’t talk about a lot is how you encourage people to keep playing, or reassure a viewer where they are in the story, because you don’t want people to feel lost or slightly adrift. So giving you that little piece of the game review provides a signifier you haven’t maybe reached the end.
CB: It’s interesting to see how some people take it because I’ve seen some people go (joking) ‘what’s the point, what’s the point. They give me the option to smash up the computer and if I do it then I can get sent back and, what’s the point it’s like when Mario falls down a fucking hole and loses a life’
AJ: Did you say that?
CB: No I didn’t.
Do people have a go on social media?
CB: I’ve glanced at it and try not to look at it too much, because it sends me a bit blaah. Because it’s like another job isn’t it. So no, I think I read a review or something where somebody said something like that but I can’t really complain about a negative review because I’ve dished out enough in my time.
Have you come to an agreement about how many definitive endings there are?
CB: I’m narrowing it down to two. No I am.
AJ: Are you?
CB: Sort of.
CB: There’s two endings with credits and different grades of ending and at one point we were debating whether to say you got a silver ending or you got a gold ending and we had all these discussions. But then again it gets a bit, because the people who smashed up the computer and got upset might say ‘well I got a bronze well done me, now go back in’.
So when can we expect to see Season Five?
AJ: This year. New genres.
CB: Yes there are new and different things some of which are in Bandersnatch.
AJ: So guess what the stories are.
CB: Or don’t in case you think of a better one.
Did the way you wrote the new season get influenced by Bandersnatch?
CB: Well I’d already written at least one or two because they sort of overlapped with the filming, which was quite a relief to go back to something with a beginning, a middle and an end.
Considering some of the cast members have decided to step back from social media how does it make you feel?
AJ: I think people are constantly reassessing their relationship with social media aren’t they? Sometimes you want to engage with it and other times people take a little break, like with any drug.
CB: Apart from caffeine no one’s taking that away from me.
You have been doing this since 2011, do you still think you are doing the same job?
CB: Yes and no. I don’t think we’ve ever seen the show as one thing and a common misreading is that it warns about the dangers of technology. I don’t think it does, it’s just stories and we just happen to use technology in the same way The Twilight Zone used the supernatural. But the atmosphere is different in so much as when we first did the show, the general attitude towards technology seemed to be a very positive one and everyone was going ‘this is great’. Now there is an atmosphere where there is a lot of discussion about social media. So we need to remain heedless of that because we are just trying to tell stories.
Bandersnatch is available to watch on Netflix now.
Many thanks to Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones for taking the time for this interview.