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Bingham Madsen, more commonly known as "Bing", is the protagonist of Fifteen Million Merits. He is portrayed by Daniel Kaluuya.


Bing has recently inherited more than 15 million merits from his dead brother. He meets Abi Khan while exercising one day, and develops a relationship with her. Later, after overhearing Abi singing in a restroom, he encourages her to enter Hot Shot, a reality contest where winners are able to move into more lavish spaces and can forgo the bike riding. However, an entry ticket costs 15 million merits. Bing, feeling there is nothing worth buying, gifts Abi the entry ticket, and joins her for her audition. Abi is required to drink a "Cuppliance" beverage from a stage hand, said to help settle her nerves, before she goes out to sing "Anyone Who Knows What Love Is" for the judges, Hope, Charity and Wraith. While they are impressed with her singing, they admit they have no more room for singers, but Wraith suggests she is better suited for his pornography show, WraithBabes. Despite Bing protesting from the wings, Abi accepts due to peer pressure and not wanting to return to the bike.

Bing returns to his routine listlessly. One day, while watching entertainment in his personal cell, an advert for an episode of WraithBabes featuring Abi appears. Bing does not have the merits to skip the ad, and cannot look away without the automated systems waiting for him to return to watching, and he angrily bashes one of the screens, shattering its glass. He eyes one of the larger pieces, and gets an idea. He hides the shard under his bed, along with the waste container from the Cuppliance drink Abi had. He spends the next few months aggressively earning merits on the bike and being frugal with all other purchases to re-earn the 15 million merits and buy another Hot Shot entry ticket.

Prior to his tryout, Bing hides the glass shard in his pants, and feigns to the stage hands that he has already drank his Cuppliance by showing them the empty container. For the judges, he starts with a dance number that impresses them and the audience, when he suddenly pulls out the shard and threatens to slice his neck, killing himself in front of everyone. Wraith suggests he go through with it, but the other judges hear him out. Bing angrily rants about the system, talking about the cold, heartlessness of it and how everything is artificial and unemotional. After some discussion, Hope offers Bing his own regular show on one of their channels.

Some time later, Bing is shown recording his show, consisting of him holding the shard of glass to his neck to rant before finishing with advert placements and a fake-out suicide message. Bing now lives in much larger quarters, has replaced the folded penguin Abi gave him with a wooden statue and the episode ends with him looking out through the side of his room onto a projection of a green forest stretching into the distance.



Notes and Trivia[]

  • Bing is of fairly average height and build. He is shown to be reasonably athletic, likely as a result of all his biking. He has dark skin and very short hair.


Memorable Quotes[]

I haven't got a speech. I didn't plan words, I didn't even try to... I just knew I had to get here, to stand here, and I knew I wanted you to listen. To really listen, not just pull a face like you're listening, like you do the rest of the time. A face that you're feeling instead of processing. You pull a face and poke it towards the stage, and we lah-di-dah, we sing and dance and tumble around. And all you see up here, it's not people, you don't see people up here, it's all fodder. And the faker the fodder is the more you love it because fake fodder's the only thing that works anymore. Fake's all that we can stomach. Actually, not quite all. Raw pain, raw viciousness, that we can take. Yeah, stick a fat man up a pole and we'll laugh ourselves feral because we've earned the right, we've done cell time and he's slacking, the scum, so ha ha ha at him! Because we're so out of our minds with desperation, we don't know any better. All we know is fake fodder and buying shit. That's how we speak to each other, how we express ourselves is buying shit! What, I have a dream? The peak of our dreams is a new hat for our Dopple, it doesn't exist! It's not even there! We buy shit that's not even there! Show us something real and free and beautiful, you couldn't, could you? Yeah? It'd break us. We're too numb for it. I might as well choke. It's only so much wonder we can bear. That's why when you find any wonder whatsoever you dole it out in meagre portions, and only then until its augmented, and packaged, and pumped through 10,000 preassigned filters, till its nothing more than a meaningless series of lights, while we ride day in day out, going where? Powering what? All tiny cells and tiny screens, and bigger cells and bigger screens, and fuck you! Fuck you, that's what it boils down to is fuck you! Fuck you for sitting there and slowly making things worse. Fuck you and your spotlight and your sanctimonious faces. And fuck you all for thinking the one thing I came close to never meant anything. For oozing it around and crushing it into a bone, into a joke. One more ugly joke in a kingdom of millions. FUCK YOU FOR HAPPENING! FUCK YOU FOR ME, FOR US, FOR EVERYONE! FUCK YOU!! -Bing's rant to the judges