mon 21/05/2018

White Gold, BBC Two review – rattling pace and razor-edged dialogue | reviews, news & interviews

White Gold, BBC Two review – rattling pace and razor-edged dialogue

White Gold, BBC Two review – rattling pace and razor-edged dialogue

Sleaze and sharp practice in the exciting world of double glazing

Flash git: Ed Westwick as Vincent Swan

In the dog-eat-dog world of White Gold it’s 1983, when greed was about to become good and (as the show’s creator Damon Beesley puts it) “a time when having double-glazed patio doors installed meant you were winning at life”. The streets were full of sludge-coloured cars from British Leyland, and Duran Duran and Bonnie Tyler ruled the charts.

Beesley (of Flight of the Conchords and The Inbetweeners fame) served time as an Essex Man in his youth, and this pungently-flavoured opener dripped with closely-observed ambition and ruthless one-upmanship. Our protagonist and narrator Vincent Swan (played with suave, supercilious panache and a selection of shiny suits by Ed Westwick) might almost have the potential to become a great comic creation, despite being permanently on the brink of crossing the line into sheer loathsomeness. Vincent could have been an estate agent or a spiv selling used Austin Metros, but in fact he’s the sales supremo of Cachet Windows. With his buddies Brian Fitzpatrick (James Buckley) and Martin Lavender (Joe Thomas, all pictured below), he lives a life of boozing, shagging, looking flash and shaking down customers for money. He has to keep dreaming up excuses to his wife Sam (Linzey Cocker) about why he’s always out “seeing customers” on evenings and weekends.

It’s all a bit like what might have happened if they’d got Harry Enfield’s Loadsamoney to re-make Confessions of a Window Cleaner, and Beesley obviously had a riotous time cooking up his cast of disreputable chancers. Vincent introduced them to us like a magician pulling scumbags out of a hat. The conniving Fitzpatrick, wearing a moustache somehow innately expressive of moral turpitude, is “in life deeply unlikeable, smarmy and charmless – but give him something to sell and somehow he becomes transformed”. As for Lavender (hilariously nicknamed “lavatory”), “he’s honest, decent and well educated,” qualities sadly “as much use as an aerated condom”. Poor Lavender is carrying the sorrowful burden of having been a member of Paul Young’s band, which he quit just before the singer hit Number One with “Wherever I Lay My Hat”. His colleagues find this hilarious (below, Linzey Cocker as Sam).

As for Vincent himself, a mere six months earlier he was working in an oil refinery on the Thames, but wasn’t paying attention while an oil tanker was pumped full of contaminated crude. The consequent sack was a sign from heaven, which set him on the road to super-salesman nirvana.

It’s unlikely that any of these characters are going to reveal themselves capable of deep spiritual insight or any glimmer of empathy, but you don’t really want them to. You want scams, jokes and grotesque character flaws (and a bit of come-uppance for balance), and Beesley has obliged. The running joke about Fitzpatrick re-selling the same windows to the hapless Mrs Brown was a treat, while Vincent’s friendly visit to his old mate Terry from the oil refinery was a mini-immorality tale in itself. Vincent couldn’t resist selling his wife Gill some patio doors, and ended up whisking her away for a spin in his decrepit sports car.

White Gold is fast, flash, vulgar and proud of it. Its rattling pace and and razor-edged dialogue don’t leave you any time to get bored.  


Vincent’s visit to his old mate Terry from the oil refinery was a mini-immorality tale in itself


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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