Although Black Mirror’s episodes are standalone stories, they are all part of the same universe, constantly referencing characters and events from other episodes. Very much like viewers, they haven’t forgotten about Michael Callow, the prime minister forced to have sex with a pig in the series’ first episode “The National Anthem”.
Black Mirror premiered on British television in 2011 and jumped to Netflix after the streaming platform purchased it in 2015. Since then, Black Mirror has continued its examination of modern society and new technologies on Netflix with a total of five seasons, one Christmas special, and one interactive film titled Bandersnatch. But the series doesn’t forget its roots, and it has added some subtle hints to the main character in “The National Anthem” in multiple episodes.
Black Mirror’s first episode introduced Prime Minister Michael Callow, who is blackmailed into having sex with a pig on live TV to save Princess Susannah. The episode had a big impact not only on viewers but within the Black Mirror universe as well, and he has appeared one way or another in other episodes. In season 3’s “Nosedive”, Lacie’s social media feed features a trending post from Callow that reads “just got thrown out of the zoo again” (no questions asked). In “Shut Up And Dance”, a news headline reads “PM Callow to Divorce”, and in “Hated in the Nation”, Michael Callow is a trending topic on Twitter but never a target of the killer robot bees.
Callow’s name appears again in Bandersnatch during the flashforward at the (real) end, where a news ticker reads “Former PM Michael Callow wins Celebrity Bake Off” – good for him. Black Mirror Season 5 didn’t forget about him either, and his name appeared in “Smithereens” three times: when a big screen with a social media feed shows a tweet that says “Prime Minister Callow to meet with EU negotiators in Brussels”; when the London office of Smithereen is about to call Penelope Wu in the U.S., the caller scrolls through her contacts and Callow’s name can be seen very briefly; and when a word cloud of things Chris has posted about is shown and Michael Callow appears in it.
It looks like Michael Callow remained a figure of authority for a while after the events in “The National Anthem”, and became a pop culture figure so big that no matter what he does (like being in Celebrity Bake Off), he will continue to be a trending topic. As the Black Mirror universe keeps growing, their attention to detail is more and more admirable, as they continue to add nods to other characters and episodes in very smooth and clever ways.