Ok, so red hot might be an overstatement, but newlyweds Alan and Lilly making out against in the wall last night dressed in gabardines is about as raunchy as we’ve seen on White Heat so far.
There are only got two more episodes left but the show continues to plod along at its own pace, managing, somehow, to quietly tackle a million and one serious issues (the feminist struggle, homophobia, abortion, racism, mental heath issues) without anyone particularly noticing that lots of drama has happened.
White Heat is essentially a sort of intelligent soap opera, focusing on of a group of student housemates in 60s London and looking at their lives, their relationships and their problems in a backdrop which combines the swinging sixties and its sexual liberation with uncertain times of growing political and social unrest.
Angry but beautiful Jack, Charlotte, Alan, Lilly, Jay, Orla and Victor
The characters are extremely stereotyped, not to mention an unlikely bunch of housemates (rebellious posh boy, feminist, chubby, heart of gold Irish girl, sexually liberated northerner, gay Asian, Geordie working-class lad and Caribbean law student) but they are, generally, likeable. The aristocratic tearaway, Jack (or the Angry Communist as he is called in my head), played by Sam Claflin, is the only unpleasant character among them- pompous, obnoxious, egotistical and rude, but even he, very occasionally shows a softer side and makes you want to learn more about him and how he ended up that way.
The show then follows the students in intervals of a decade, right up to the present day when it is apparent that one of their number has died and the others are gathering to remember them. It’s not yet been revealed who the unfortunate is but each week another member of the gang turns up and rules themselves out. My bet is the Angry Communist.
If I’m honest, I’m not entirely sure why I like this programme so much. Quite a lot has happened but all the little sub-plots have been dealt with so subtly that it feels at times slow. And yet this doesn’t bother me. Equally I have no idea where it’s going or what it’s trying to prove just yet, but I quite like that, it’s intriguing.
I think my favourite thing about it is the vibe. I wasn’t around in the 60s but it just feels real and believable to me, right down to the settings, the way its filmed and the way the colours are at times muted and depressed. The soundtrack really adds to it too. Using original music from the 60s makes it feel even more genuine, as well as brightening up some pretty dark moments. And its an era that’s not represented much in period drama, so that’s another thing going for it.
Still, it’s a bit of a puzzler quite why White Heat is so watchable. But it really is. I look forward to seeing where it’s headed.
To see for yourself catch up on BBC iPlayer