Slap bang in the middle of the FIT Show, White Gold, the BBC2 drama/comedy about a double glazing company in 1983 aired at 10pm on Wednesday. The trailers looked good, and promised a well written, slickly produced, funny and potentially uncomfortable watch for us in the industry, and generally good viewing for everyone else.
The FIT Show is over and this is my review of the first episode of White Gold.
First the cast. Head of sales is Vincent Swan, headed up by Ed Westwick. Followed by his two sales guys Fitzpatrick and Lavender played by James Buckley and Joe Thomas respectively. The latter two you’ll know from The Inbetweeners, and when watching you can see a little bit of those characters in these two new outfits. The name calling, the banter, the winding each other up. If you watched The Inbetweeners you probably can’t help but see some of that in White Gold. Ed Westwick is part narrator and part lead character, explaining as we go through episode 1 the scene, the year and the environment he works in.
It’s that which is worryingly accurate. Throughout the first 30 minutes he goes on to narrate to screen in slick, short bursts, how double glazing sales reps worked, their tactics, their one liners and the things they would do to get a sale. Basically the little black book of hard sell. The very thing our industry is known for, and the very thing a large portion of us will have been cringing over whilst watching.
That being said, some of the one liners are hilarious and had me laughing out loud. It is very well written by Damon Beesley and the production values are very good. There was no danger of this being a cheap, rag-tag mock up of our industry.
Sex, sleaze and drugs
I think many of us who watched the first episode could relate to our own thoughts and stories about sales reps in our industry. Episode 1 very much set up a scene where reps were unashamedly hard-selling the crap out of people, raking the money in for it to be then spent on women, drugs and booze. SPOILER ALERT: near the end the three sales guys were treated to strippers at the end of a hard week selling in which they achieved a weekly sales record. Hands up how many have either been part of these end of week celebrations or know of people who were part of them. I reckon most are up now.
This is what this series is going to be about. Yes it’s going to be a poke at us as an industry, designed to showcase how we behaved as a sector when PVCu was first taking off. But it’s meant to be funny as well. It’s something we as an industry will be able to relate to, as well as be able to laugh at ourselves as well.
The timing though of this series could not have been better. Absolutely in the middle of the FIT Show, where sales teams and well known names and faces would all be gathered in the same halls for three days. What better chance for us all to see how we all behave once we’ve had a few beers and the professional sheen has been binged away. I have to say that some of the 80’s language and dare I say behaviour is still around in the industry today. So whilst White Gold will give us a chance to laugh at ourselves, for me it will also shine a light on the slimier bits of our industry, the older guard, who were brought up in that era and still thinks it’s OK.
The more picky of us out there will have noticed a few technical inaccuracies involving props and the sets as we were watching. For example, windows that were internally glazed, not exactly a staple of the industry in 1983. Some of those White PVCu panel doors with triple glazed units looked a bit modern for the time too.
It’s perhaps best not to get too hung up on these sorts of inaccuracies. These are TV producers not ex-sales reps, so product knowledge and set accuracy weren’t perhaps the highest on the list of priorities. If you’re that way inclined it is fun to try and spot the things that should not be there.
On the whole though, I genuinely enjoyed watching the first episode of White Gold, if not just to get a warped taste of what this industry was like before I was even born. Well produced, funny, and with a good cast, I shall be watching episode 2 on the BBC iPlayer as soon as I can as it is already available and will be posting my review of that on here soon after. A solid 8/10 from me.
If you watched White Gold and have thoughts or comments on the show, please kick off the debate via the comments section below.
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