DVD Review: Whites: Series 1

Directed By David Kerr
Starring Alan Davies, Darren Boyd and Katherine Parkinson


Roland White (Alan Davies) is one of the most promising chefs in the industry, or was at one point. His star has long since dulled and he’s now the self-absorbed, embittered head chef at an out-of-the-way country hotel. He’s contemptuous of his clientèle and content to slack off and avoid work and responsibility, using the same menu for years and delegating the workload to his long-suffering best friend and sous chef Bib (Darren Boyd) while dodging his nagging restaurant manager Caroline (Katherine Parkinson). Toss in a largely incompetent kitchen staff and a shifty, conniving young temp named Skoose (Stephen Wight) who’s gunning for Bib’s job and life often proves more stressful than Roland would like.

Though it’s entirely amiable and enjoyable to spend time with, Whites, like its main character, is all too eager to coast on familiarity and natural charm rather than tread original ground. The ever-fantastic Alan Davies is the brilliant-but-lazy lead we’ve seen a billion times in countless shows, the lovely Katherine Parkinson (The IT Crowd) is really just playing Jen Barber again, right down to the matching wardrobe, and the obligatory will-they-won’t-they belligerent sexual tension angle unfolds with the leads for good measure. While there’s shades of Bernard Black in Roland White, the show is sadly missing the snarky, cynical bite of Black Books or the darkly witty edge of similarly plotted underrated sitcom Kitchen Confidential. The alternative we get is a light, restrained show that’s too short on character to be entirely effective as a drama but never hilarious enough to stand out greatly as a comedy.
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The credits are comprised of a recognisable and talented bevy of Brit comedy regulars: Alan Davies (QI, Jonathan Creek), Darren Boyd (Green Wing, Smack The Pony, Saxondale), Katherine Parkinson (The IT Crowd) Stephen Wight (Parkinson’s husband in comedy miniseries The Great Outdoors) Isy Suttie (Peep Show’s Dobby) and Matt King (Superhans from Peep Show). It’s almost entirely due to that ensemble of incredibly likeable, wonderfully funny people that Whites remains so completely watchable, but underneath the shine of a stellar cast is a show that’s merely decent. There are laughs to be found though, especially in Suttie’s profoundly dumb Kiki, who rushes to tell Skoose that she thought she saw a ghost while peeing in a graveyard “but it was just wee-steam”.

Whites coasts on the talent and chemistry of its cast members, managing to be an entertaining, well-made comedy show with more than its fare share of laughs. While it’s decent fun, though, the lack of originality and wit on display in the writing department mean that it never really frees itself from the plentiful pool of similar sitcoms. Unfortunately, there’s not enough bite or wit injected into Whites to make it more than a decent, serviceable sitcom, and there’s nothing here that you won’t have seen before, but if you’re a fan of any of the cast, it’s a light, effortlessly watchable stuff elevated by an excellent ensemble.
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On the DVD:

ITV DVD’s release (of a BBC show, strangely enough) houses all six episodes on a single disc and packs a sharp, detailed visual transfer and a solid Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track which sounds perfectly good.

The special features are few, but more than usually accompany UK TV releases on DVD. A 5 minute gag reel elicits a few giggles and there’s around 17 minutes of cast and crew interviews which are more entertaining and informative than the usual soundbite collections you’d find in similar extras. English subtitles are also included for those who want or need them.

The Series:

The DVD:




Whites is available to buy on DVD in the UK now.
Click here to order the DVD from Amazon.co.uk.