By Mary Phillips
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White Heat

This article is over 9 years, 9 months old
This six-part drama follows the lives and loves of seven housemates. It starts in the present day when one of them has died and then goes back to the 1960s where they seem to be part of some kind of social experiment conducted by a young radical called Jack in a flat in London.
Issue 368

In his will the deceased has left the flat to his “former flatmates”. Like my own brother he was dead for two weeks before he was found, so the flat needs some cleaning up. We see a group photo which shows the seven main characters as they were when they first moved in.

Jack wants to run a sort of island of egalitarianism where people do not have exclusive relationships – but he imposes his own rules, such as no one being allowed to sleep with anyone else for more than three nights.

There are arguments and difficulties, especially with Victor, a young black man who does not exactly fit into Jack’s ideas of how he should deal with the racism in the society of the time. Jack’s father is a Tory MP who does not approve of his son’s way of life, but subs him when he has an overdraft.

Some of the atmosphere really brought back memories for me, especially the songs. Things like “King of the Road”, “You Really Got Me” and “The Times They are A-Changin'” playing in the background made me feel as if I was back in those times, on the edge of history almost. We thought we were about to have a revolution with a whole new way of living and relating to one another, a sense of community, looking to “equality in the bedroom”.

Drugs like LSD and cannabis also seemed to lift everyone above the ordinary mundane dreariness of existence. And the older generation didn’t approve, which made it all the more exciting.

By the second episode we are plunged vividly into the demonstrations against the Vietnam War and also see the heartache caused by an unwanted pregnancy after one of the young women has sex with a man who is in a kind of “open relationship” with one of the others. She has an abortion procured by someone who “helps” women in her situation. But when she is knocked down during a demo she does actually abort, when she thought there was nothing left. I was gripped by this time and hope the series develops as it promises.

White Heat concludes in April. Once broadcast, episodes are available to watch on BBC iPlayer.

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