Boiling Point continued on BBC One this week, and it’s the exact opposite of a cosy Sunday night drama – here’s our review.
Viewers will know it’s a spin-off series of the Stephen Graham film Boiling Point, which was a contender for BAFTA’s Outstanding British Film of the Year.
And now, two years on from the 2021 movie, the series continues in the same frantic, frenetic pace. The four-parter picks up six months later, and Carly is running her new restaurant, Point North.
But the restaurant has money problems, while head chef Carly battles her own personal demons in the shape of her demanding mum. Meanwhile, pastry chef Liam is battling mental health issues, and Emily and Andy fight their alcoholism.
Never mind whether the restaurant guests like Carly’s beef, my stomach isn’t strong enough for this grim subject matter.
Boiling Point review: ‘Gave up it was so manic’
As Boiling Point kicked off with episode one, many viewers announced they’d turned off just minutes in. Some complained that the series was “too fast moving”.
One not-fan complained that the “camera shots are frantic”, while another admitted they were “worn out” after watching. “Gave up it was so manic,” admitted one viewer, and another added: “People shouting at each other in a busy kitchen was all I saw. Couldn’t get into it.”
Others grumbled at the sound quality. And I have to agree. Watching Boiling Point on BBC One is utterly exhausting. It’s like the last five minutes of a thriller – tense, uncomfortable, and hectic – but for a full hour. And it’s not thrilling at all. I know it’s called Boiling Point, but there really is NO relief. It lurches from one awful situation to another.
It’s relentlessly dark, with themes of suicide ideation, addiction, bullying, and illness. There’s no escape from it. And, I’m sorry, that really isn’t what I want to watch on a Sunday night.
Yes, I’m sure it’s a realistic insight of kitchen life, and the personalities within it. But I really don’t want my blood pressure soaring at the end of my weekend.
Where’s Stephen Graham?
Many viewers tuned in for the promise of Stephen Graham. He can do no wrong in my eyes. Apart from not turn up enough! In fact, the Line of Duty star barely appears in the early episodes of the series.
Like in the film, the ensemble cast could do with him at the centre. Hannah Walters is the heart of the show, and she’s the light in some very dark scenes.
The scenes between real life husband and wife Stephen Graham and Hannah Walters – as Andy and Emily – are very watchable, but very few and far between. There are few silver linings here. If the intention is to put us all off working in a restaurant, the mission has been accomplished.
Going to eat in restaurants is a treat when I can afford it. And I don’t want to know that there are self-harming pastry chefs potentially slumped in the toilets, or bully chefs taunting their co-workers about not being able to boil an egg. I’d prefer my meals with a side order of ignorant bliss.
Boiling Point review: It’s not The Bear
The BBC series will obviously be compared to Hulu’s The Bear, which is superb. Yes, Boiling Point came first, but The Bear took the rolling pin and ran with it.
Lead actor Jeremy Allen White won a Golden Globe for his performance as stressed chef (or Jeff) Carmen, and the show works well because it centres on the service. And much less on their personal problems. It’s still fast paced, but the viewer is given time to care about the characters.
In Boiling Point, the relatively small team of staff has too much going on. Top that with the already migraine-inducing tension of the kitchen, and the largely horrible diners, and I’d rather watch a Shetland. At least that has nice scenery.
Also, each episode of The Bear is 30 minutes long – perfectly bite-sized if you pardon the pun. While the 90-minute film of Boiling Point worked as a complete story, an hour episode is just too much at once.
Sorry Stephen, I’m switching off
After two episodes, the staff of Point North have already lost one member of staff (Ray Panthaki’s Freeman) and nearly lost another (Stephen McMillan’s Jamie). And me, they’ve also lost me.
Empire reviewer Boyd Hilton says: “If the series occasionally feels almost too stressful to enjoy, that’s a testament to just how realistic it is.” Meanwhile, the Guardian writer Rebecca Nicholson says: “It piles stress upon stress, with a garnish of extra stress.”
But I’m more than happy to admit I’d rather keep my drama purely entertaining, and my visits to a restaurant on the right side of the pass. Stressful drama just isn’t for me.
Boiling Point series 1 airs on Sundays at 9pm on BBC One. The whole series is currently on BBC iPlayer.
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