Boiling Point Review

Boiling Point
Six months on from the events at the end of the Boiling Point film, London restaurant head chef Andy (Stephen Graham) is recovering from a heart attack, while his protégé Carly (Vinette Robinson) is running her own high-end eatery with many of the staff from Andy’s place.

by Boyd Hilton |
Published on

Streaming on: BBC iPlayer

Episodes viewed: 4 of 4

There’s a mere 11-minute continuous take at the start of Boiling Point, the TV series spun off from the impressive 2021 film of the same name, echoing the breathlessly frenetic one-take achievement of the movie. But it would be misleading to say the TV drama then settles down in any way. Directors Philip Barantini (who made the original film) and Mounia Akl ensure there’s still a startlingly restless, intensely propulsive energy to all four episodes that make up this series, as their cameras prowl around the action in the restaurant kitchen, while fires break out, shouty arguments threaten to explode into physical confrontations, complex morsels of haute cuisine are created and newbie trainee Johnny (Stephen Odubola) learns how to make Hollandaise sauce.

Boiling Point

It’s as effective and authentic a depiction of the hectic whirlwind of restaurant-kitchen life (and, intermittently, front-of-house activity) as similarly themed US masterpiece The Bear, but Boiling Point has a distinctly social-realist tone, exploring the harsh realities of life on the edge in 21st-century Britain. By breaking free from the one-shot spectacle of the movie, the series has time to explore the day-to-day existence of its characters away from the restaurant, reminding us that colleagues often have no clue what’s going on in each other’s lives despite working in close contact with them for hours on end.

As the series touches on mental health issues like self-harm and alcoholism, and the continual challenge of just keeping your head above water in the current economic climate, it increasingly feels like part of the grand tradition of British socio-political TV writing from Alan Bleasdale (Boys From The Blackstuff) in the ’80s up to Sally Wainwright (Happy Valley) now. Meanwhile, the entire cast is uniformly outstanding, achieving a seemingly effortless naturalism to match the documentary-style feel of the whole exercise. If the series occasionally feels almost too stressful to enjoy, that’s a testament to just how realistic it is.

As you’d expect from the creators of the outstanding original film, this is a brutally frank and full-on depiction of the extreme levels of stress and tension in the daily lives of those working in the restaurant business.
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