Series / Dead Set
You have 30 minutes to say your goodbyes, then I'm coming to get you!

Pippa: Is that Davina?
Patrick: ...Sort of.

How many of you have watched Big Brother and thought, "This is the beginning of the apocalypse"? Well, it seems you're not the only one.

Dead Set is the not-so predictable crossover of Big Brother meets the Zombie Apocalypse, particularly the fast plague-zombies of 28 Days Later. After a Zombie Infectee staggers into the crowd at a BB eviction, the disease spreads rapidly through the studio, leaving just one safe place: the heavily protected house in the middle. The remaining housemates then try to survive inside the house as the infection spreads and the remaining zombies search for flesh. Problem is, when everyone in the house has been chosen specifically because they create tension and conflict with each other to boost ratings, that's easier said than done...

The show was written by TV columnist Charlie Brooker of Screenwipe fame and is about as satirical as you might expect. He went on to create another drama series called Black Mirror.

This show provides examples of:

  • Action Survivor: Kelly spends her first few hours of the apocalypse crying, but recovers and becomes the de facto leader of the group. Alex, from what little we know about her, appears this way. And Riq managed to stay alive in the outside world, too. Granted, they all died in the end...
  • Anyone Can Die: And then come back and make the other characters die, too. Which happens to the entire cast by the end.
  • Anti-Hero: Kelly. Being caught in a zombie apocalypse would kind of force someone into this.
  • Apocalypse How: Anything from Class 0 to Class 2. We just don't know.
  • Asshole Victim: Patrick. Obviously.
  • Author Tract: Patrick's awesome rant as he feeds the zombies.
  • Bad Boss: Patrick. To say the least.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Apparently, the French broadcast says: "Boats are overcrowded and leaving or entering the country is now impossible. People are strongly advised to reach their nearest emergency shelter as soon as possible".
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: Made by a subsidiary of the Big Brother production company, broadcast on the Big Brother channel. It even uses portions of the actual filming of Big Brother 9.
  • Black Chick Is First Housemate To Be Bitten
  • Bolivian Army Ending: We see Kelly make an attempt to escape, one of the only survivors at that point... only to make a Smash Cut to her, now a zombie, on a TV screen on the live Big Brother broadcast.
  • Breaking Speech: Patrick uses this on Joplin in the final episode. It succeeds and costs everyone their lives.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The internal fourth wall is broken twice by Kelly.
    • First time, she has her phone on ringer while in the camera run.
    • Second time, she breaks into the house itself when a zombie manages to make it into the house through the camera run.
  • Broken Bird: Alex.
  • Camp Gay: Grayson, the bitchy transvestite male nurse.
  • Character As Herself: Davina, later Zombie Davina.
  • Caught with Your Pants Down: Joplin's less-than-stealthy attempt to watch Veronica in the shower is less than successful (though as a wannabe "glamour" model, Veronica is unfazed by it).
  • Celebrity Survivor: Most of the characters. Unfortunately, since the compound is overrun already, thanks to the early conversion of an entire Eviction Night crowd, no-one leaves alive.
  • Cliffhanger: Marky spots Riq approaching the Big Brother house and, thinking he is a zombie, opens fire. Cut to black.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Most characters, but Patrick especially.
  • Cold Opening: The beginning of the first episode is almost shot-for-shot Big Brother, complete with the normal Voice Of Big Brother.
  • Creator Cameo: Charlie Brooker appears as one of the undead.
  • Death by Cameo: Many former housemates appear briefly only to be slain when the zombies arrive.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Space agrees to open the Diary Room — so Kelly can make a futile attempt to fight her way out — only after seeing a zombie Pippa hammering on the glass outside.
  • Determinator: Kelly has some shades of this.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Riq dies in Kelly's arms after being shot by Patrick.
  • Dirty Coward: Joplin.
    • Patrick pushing a man in a wheelchair into the path of a zombie chasing him places him squarely as this.
  • Dirty Old Man: Joplin, better known to his anti-fans as "Gollum".
  • The Ditz: Pippa. Veronica also has her moments.
  • Divided We Fall: In typical Big Brother fashion, they find it difficult to get along and agree. They all die.
  • Downer Ending: Everybody is either dead or undead.
  • Dumb Blonde: Pippa.
    Patrick: Do you even understand what is going on here, or is the whole world just colours and shapes and the occasional noise in your head?
  • Flowery Insults: Patrick sometimes likes to fire these off.
    I didn't say it was going to be a genteel parlour game, you titted fucking idiot!
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Blink and you'd miss it, but the entire list of contestants for the doomed version of Big Brother are visible for a few seconds under one of the screens.
  • Gorn:
    • Especially during the death of Patrick, who gets the slowest, goriest death in the series.
    • Patrick rants while he hacks the flesh off Grayson's body to use as bait to distract the zombies outside.
    • Subverted during some character deaths - some of them, such as Kelly and Pippa, die off-screen.
  • Hostage Situation: In the final episode, Patrick takes Kelly hostage, holding a gun to her head.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    Marky: Or we could chop his Achilles tendon in the back of the heel... turns the feet into dead plates, even if he wanted to use 'em, he won't be able to operate the pedal...
    Space: Where'd you learn that from, man?
    Marky: Saw Jack Bauer do it on the telly.
    Veronica: No! S'not real life, is it? No! If we're doin' this, we're smashin' his ankles like in that film... "Mystery".
  • Idiot Ball:
    • The Big Brother compound is amazingly secure... until one of the security gates has a car full of zombies arrive.
    • Joplin. Ramming a van through an iron gate and countless zombies, in hope that it will carry you to a safe place? Risky. Opening the gate before in hopes of getting to the van on time? Absurdly, flat-out unbelievably stupid.
    • Marky shooting at Riq screaming "I'm normal!" not because he thinks Riq's a normal human who's a threat to their safety, but a zombie that's just screaming at him.
  • Inspector Javert: The two policemen, especially the one that is not a fan of Big Brother.
  • Ignored Vital News Reports: Patrick. Well, not entirely ignored - he just wanted to know if the next bulletin would interrupt Big Brother.
  • Karmic Death: Patrick, who gets the most gruesome, Day of the Dead (1985)-style tribute death. And the surviving housemates in the last episode for treating Joplin like a Butt Monkey the whole series, causing him to pull a Face–Heel Turn and get everyone killed.
  • Kill the Ones You Love / Staking the Loved One: Prior to her introduction, Alex was forced to kill a zombified friend.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Patrick. In spades.
  • Manipulative Editing: Patrick is seen indulging in this. It backfires and makes the manipulatee suicidally open the gates and let the zombies flood in.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Kelly beating a zombie to death with a fire extinguisher (splattering his brains all over the place in the process) in the first episode.
  • Nobody Poops: Very much averted with Patrick. While he's trapped in the same room as Pippa, he can't hold it any longer and proceeds to urinate and defecate in a bucket.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word, though one person does quote Night of the Living Dead (1968).
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Space.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: These ones are victims of a virus and technically dead, psychotically violent and also capable of running and jumping.
  • Only Sane Woman: Kelly.
  • Ratings Stunt: Subverted; the housemates initially think that Kelly is a mentally ill woman added to boost ratings. Joplin comments to the cameras, "I think this is in very poor taste."
  • Reality TV Show Mansion: The BB House.
  • Regret Eating Me: Patrick yells the famous "Choke on it!" line from Day of the Dead (1985) while being eaten by zombies.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Kelly narrowly avoids being fired on the spot for having her mobile phone ring when she was in the camera run, allowing the Housemates to hear that there is someone there. The only thing that saves her is that, by the time Patrick isn't too busy to fire her, there's more important things to think about...
  • Self-Insert Fic: The sneering, cynical producer Patrick bears some resemblance to the show's sneering, cynical creator. Could also be said of Joplin, who voices many of the creator's views, sometimes verbatim quoting him. This being Charlie Brooker, the king of Self-Deprecation, these two are respectively the most loathsome and most pathetic character in the show.
  • Shout-Out: As mentioned above, the famous "Choke on it!" line from Day of the Dead (1985) is uttered, and the famous "They're coming to get you, Barbra!" line from Night of the Living Dead (1968) is mockingly used in the first episode. Additionally, Veronica at one point makes a reference to the film version of Misery (although she mistakenly refers to it as "Mystery") - specifically, the ankle-breaking-with-a-sledgehammer scene - when the rest of the group are trying to decide what to do with a captive Patrick.
  • Show Within a Show: Big Brother, in that a completely fictional season was created just for the drama, complete with previously evicted housemates and it's own logo.
  • Smug Snake: Joplin. For all his snark and looking down on everyone else, he ends being the most stupid of all.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Davina McCall has her throat ripped out by a zombie and is left to die to the tune of "Grace Kelly" by Mika.
  • Springtime for Hitler: Joplin admits that the only reason he applied to be on the show in the first place was in order to decry it nationally.
  • Taking You with Me: Joplin's actions at the end may not be Idiot Ball at all. Having joined the show wanting acceptance using the excuse about changing the show from within and failing, and being subsequently rejected by literally the very last of humanity, he in one possible interpretation actually pulls a swerve on Patrick and uses HIM to go through with opening the gates. Even though it is now obvious to Patrick who screams at him to stop - that given the sheer number of zombies involved the move is literal suicide. Perhaps not a case of stupidity but Murder-Suicide.
  • Tempting Fate:
    Patrick (watching Pippa's eviction interview) Urghfff! I cannot imagine... living next door to people like that!
    (Later Patrick flees from a zombie Davina McCall into the Green Room, only to find it's occupied by a hysterical Pippa)
    Patrick: Not you! Fuck, not you!
  • Title-Only Opening: You'd be forgiven for thinking Dead Set is a dramatization of a backstage look at Big Brother, especially on versions without the advert breaks, since the title is only used sparingly, for a similar reason to Ghostwatch, and only on Episodes 2-5. Episode 1 begins with the leitmotif and the Show Within a Show version of the Big Brother eye.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Patrick.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Joplin's escape attempt in the finale ends up getting him and all of the remaining survivors killed.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: The second episode opens with Veronica puking her guts up after witnessing Kelly smashing a zombie's head open with a fire extinguisher.
  • What Happened To Mommy: A deleted scene shows that Pippa was infected by her zombified mother.
  • While Rome Burns: Pippa reads a magazine while Zombie Davina bangs on the door outside. Marky obsesses about what the papers say about him.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Kelly cheats on Riq with a co-worker prior to the zombie apocalypse, although Riq never learns this.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Firmly in the mold of 28 Days Later.
  • Zombie Infectee:
    • Averted with Alex who, when infected, calmly hands Riq her axe. He knows what he has to do without her even asking him to.
    • Inverted with Marky who injured his arm when diving into the van. This gets him in trouble when a police officer threatens to shoot him, believing him to be infected.
    • Played straight by Angel.