Blackout – Channel 4 Tonight

BlackoutPre-empting a programme may not be such a wise thing to do.  Having previously suggested that ‘Darkside’ could be an interesting experiment, a new combination of story and music – then actually listening to it and being thoroughly disappointed by its earnest but aimless rambling.  Maybe I should learn from my mistakes!

However, this time the programme is not the tired imagination of an aging playwright, weaving his words through a classic album.  It’s a ‘what if’ scenario which is not as far-fetched from reality as it first may sound.  What if the UK was subject to a major cyber attack which completely cripples the national grid for a week?

Based on expert advice and meticulous research, Blackout combines real user-generated footage, alongside fictional scenes, CCTV archive and news reports to build a terrifyingly realistic account of Britain being plunged into darkness.

The programme is a feature-length one-off called Blackout and is on Channel 4 at 9pm tonight (Monday 9th september 2013).  If this works well it could effectively highlight two of the big rarely acknowledged fears of modern times – our complete reliance on both the internet and electricity.

We flick switches everyday without the slightest thought for where the power comes from, or what may happen if the power fails.  And with so much of our lives online, exactly how exposed are we to the threat of cyber attack and what would be the consequences if the network crashed?

Both of these situations are closer than we I think most people realise.  For instance, California has repeatedly suffered from loss of power to wide areas of the state on an almost annual basis for at least a decade and the demand for electricity worldwide is increasing exponentially.  As for the internet – what isn’t online?  Health and security services, food distribution, banking, etc. – but if it breaks, or is broken for any reason (by a country, an orginisation or an individual) we would soon find out how reliant we all are on it.

So, how would we cope?  Would the country descend into anarchy, reminiscent of the appalling scenes of mob rule in London 2011?  Or would we just get on with things and work our way though it?  I’m hoping it would be the latter, but I imagine the programme will focus on the anarchy.

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