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Charting the lives of seven friends from 1965 through to the present day, the series is framed around relationships; complex, volatile, life affirming and life changing--set in motion when they come together as a diverse group of young students to live as flat mates in London's Tufnell Park: rebel with a cause Jack (Sam Claflin), intelligent feminist Charlotte (Claire Foy), fragile beauty Lilly (MyAnna Buring), medical student Jay (Reece Ritchie), electronics enthusiast Alan (Lee Ingleby), law student Victor (David Gyasi) and big-hearted Orla (Jessica Gunning).
The series follows them over four decades as their lives, loves and destinies are shaped by the political events of each era--from the death of Churchill, the union strife of the Seventies, the ascendancy of Thatcher, the Falklands, Aids, the end of the Cold War to the present day. Their intertwined personal lives played against the backcloth of these crucial events converge to make them the people they are today.
Also starring Juliet Stevenson, Lindsay Duncan, Tamsin Greig, Hugh Quarshie, Paul Copley, Ramon Tikaram, Sorcha Cusack & Michael Kitchen
The group start off as flatmates, and in the opening episode, we see them brought back together nearing the end of their lives. This provides a platform to tell the story mainly in flashback, a familiar convention but a useful one.
From there, two things lift White Heat. Firstly, there’s the excellent script by Paula Milne, which weaves the characters together expertly, and, crucially, finds them interesting things to do. Her words are done real justice, though, by an excellent cast, the standouts of which include Claire Foy, Juliet Stevenson and Tamsin Greig. Always good to see Michael Kitchen, too. Wisely, the older versions of the characters are played by different actors, incidentally, so you don’t have to do battle with distracting make-up effects.
Running to six hour-long episodes, White Heat is quality television, with plenty to say. It manages to successfully convey the feel of the different eras that its story works through, whilst putting at its heart a compelling drama. --Jon Foster
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