White House Farm is a new six-part ITV drama which starts the new year by bringing us the doom and gloom of a mass murder, this time based on the true story of what happened to a family in an Essex farmhouse in August 1985.
It begins with Jeremy Bamber (Freddie Fox) phoning the police to tell them that his father has rung and told him to come over, and it’s about his sister, Sheila (Cressida Bonas), who has gone crazy with a gun, and Jeremy doesn’t think his he’s kidding. This is a very tense opening, but then the first episode oddly eschewed all of this for an immensely slow second part – which spent 10-15 minutes introducing characters at a family party, when just a few would’ve done. However, the tension then does set in when part 3 gets things back on track as it goes back to the day in question.
What follows in this first episode does make for a very tense first episode as Jeremy learns that his sister, Sheila, has slaughtered the entire family, sparing only the family dog.
The only iffy thing is Stephen Graham‘s… Welsh accent, and I had to preceed that with …., as it’s a very bad Welsh accent when he normally delivers the goods. However, it is great to see the ’80s period with old-style telephones (With a dial!) and the cars and ambulances of the day.
Overall, this is one of those series where you wish all six episodes were available to watch on day one. ITV rarely do that – the only one I can think of being Deep Water – but I wish they’d do it more often.
White House Farm continues next Wednesday at 9pm. It’s available to pre-order on DVD, ahead of its release on March 23rd.
After broadcast, each episode will be on the ITV Hub.
Series Score: 8/10
Director: Paul Whittington
Producer: Lee Thomas
Writers: Kris Mrksa, Giula Sandler
Music: Niall Byrne
Jeremy Bamber: Freddie Fox
DCI Thomas ‘Taff’ Jones: Stephen Graham
DS Stan Jones: Mark Addy
Sheila Caffell: Cressida Bonas
Colin Caffell: Mark Stanley
Nicholas Caffell: Jude Barrowcliffe
Daniel Caffell: Nate Barrowcliffe
Heather Amos: Grace Calder
Julie Mugford: Alexa Davies
Nevill Bamber: Nicholas Farrell
June Bamber: Amanda Burton
Ann Eaton: Gemma Whelan
PS Bews: David Hunt
PC Myall: Thomas Coombes
CS George Harris: Sean Gilder
DC Mick Clark: Scott Reid
PC Collins: Josh Herdman
PS Adams: Micah Balfour
PC Delgado: Benjamin Griffin
WPC1: Lucy Briggs-Owen
DI Ron Cook: Andrew Frame
Constable West: Tom McCall
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.