Posted by: Paul | October 1, 2010

Whites

Another new, location-shot, high quality sitcom from BBC2 to add to Rev, Getting On and Grandma’s House. What’s happened this year? Whatever it is, this is the best year for new British comedy that I can remember for a long time.

Whites is the first stab at a kitchen set sitcom since Lenny Henry’s Chef in the 90’s. In the light of everything which has happened in cookery television in the interim, and how long it’s taken for another to be made, Chef looks way ahead of its time suddenly – and it’s also a great time to be having another go.

Alan Davies plays Roland White, Executive Chef of The White House, a high end fine dining restaurant. He’s equal parts visionary and layabout, dreamer and pragmatist. His kitchen is run like a well-oiled machine…just not by him. Everyone around Roland puts in more work and gets less in return, especially Sous Chef Bib – and when the new boy (going by the improbable name of ‘Skoose’) Roland drafts in to help out vows he will be Sous Chef himself in two years, Bib has to watch his own back aswell as Roland’s.

A very enjoyable first episode, written by Matt ‘Super Hans’ King, who himself turns up as butcher Melvin. Part of its charm came from the feeling of authenticity – the hectic kitchen scenes during service were never less than convincing, and you wonder whether the main cast members had to take cooking courses to help them perform under pressure. Whether done through clever editing, with pro chefs doing all the close up work, or the cast doing it themselves, the whole thing worked very well. Quite classical in form, with a great setup and payoff, it was a satisfying watch with some great laughs and lines, particularly in the comic tension between Bib and Skoose. Davies himself almost had a supporting role in this, despite being the headline act, as screen time was fairly equally distributed between all the leads, also featuring Katherine Parkinson (of The It Crowd fame). A tasty starter, looking forward to the second course. Ba-dum tsssh. Thank you, thank you, I’m here all week.

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