How the BBC Found Its Answer to ‘The Bear’ in a Clever TV Adaptation of Chaotic Kitchen Movie ‘Boiling Point’

When the BBC revealed it was adapting hit British indie film “Boiling Point” into a TV show, it was applauded as one of the most forward-thinking orders made at the public broadcaster in years — demonstrating the kind of savvy seen at global streamers, which are always quick on the draw in commissioning adjacent programming for a hit title. This time, Britain’s public broadcaster had also capitalized on a local sensation.

The four-time BAFTA-nominated “Boiling Point” centred on a stressed-out head chef, played by “Matilda” star Stephen Graham, who quickly loses the room in a fast-paced kitchen. The movie, which released in the U.K. in January 2022, used an anxiety-inducing one-shot technique for the entire feature, heightening the intensity of the frenzied kitchen scenes. It later drew comparisons to another claustrophobic kitchen drama, FX series “The Bear,” which premiered last summer.

“’The Bear’ is entertainment — it’s very, very good entertainment, but it’s entertainment,” said Bart Ruspoli, co-founder of producer Ascendant Fox, during February’s BBC Studios Showcase, when the “Boiling Point” TV series was shopped to global buyers. “We hold up a mirror to life; we’re trying to show slices of real life and how these themes are tackled. We’re also the polar opposite of ‘The Bear’ tonally, and in how it’s shot.”

“Boiling Point” will pick up six months on from where the film left off, and see sous chef Carly (Vinette Robinson) as head chef at her own restaurant, with many of the film’s original cast reprising their roles alongside her – including Graham as head chef Andy and Hannah Walters as Emily.

The idea for a TV adaptation was initially discussed during the movie’s festival run in 2021, explains Ruspoli. “It was before the film was even released,” he notes. “We were at Karlovy Vary, and we had this conversation about, ‘Wouldn’t it be a good idea to do a TV series?’ and how it could work. That’s when we first thought, ‘Oh, we could possibly do that.’ Then it happened very, very quickly. It was December 2021 that BBC came on, and the film was released in the U.K. in [January] 2022.”

When the show was announced, fans of the movie — which pulled in $1.43 million at the global box office (and could have arguably done more in a post-pandemic climate for cinemas) — were quick to point out that Graham was returning for the TV show, despite his character seemingly dying of a cocaine overdose in the movie.

“That was a discussion that we all had that was integral to moving the project forwards — that Andy would be in it, to try and find that storyline,” says Graham. “So we cleverly and carefully and meticulously went through a possible storyline as a collective where it could be, like, its own piece. Not just throwing in a scene for the sake of it, but having a really good arc that can carry through, while being separate from the series because he’s not involved in the kitchen anymore.”

The actor says Andy will go on a “much deeper journey about self-discovery” and be forced to reckon with his drug addiction.

“In the film, there are moments laid out that are then picked up in the series,” adds producer Hester Ruoff, co-founder of Ascendant Fox. “But new characters bring a freshness to the project, so you don’t just feel like, ‘Oh, I’m just watching the same thing but extended.’ It’s got new levels of banter.”

While the one-shot technique will be scrapped, the team promises that the movie’s strong social realism will be even more prominent across the TV show. Given the series is landing on the BBC, those elements are likely to be even more crucial in order to serve the public broadcaster’s audience.

“The collective consciousness of all of our companies is to create opportunities for people,” says the BAFTA-nominated Graham, who is a passionate advocate for diversity and social mobility in the British entertainment industry. “If you look at our kitchen, it’s so eclectic in the cultural aspects of work, from creed, color, ethnicity, right across the board to identity and sexuality.

“We felt we had an opportunity with this canvas that we created, because we knew we had this great place to start with in this kitchen,” he adds. “Most people have associations with a particular kind of job, be it an office or a restaurant or a building site. We had a good platform to be able to shine a light on social issues, and make a little bit of a social commentary about the state of the nation.”

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