DVD Review: Toast Of London Series One (UK, 2015)

toast of london s1

If you didn’t manage to catch British comedy series Toast of London when it first aired on the ABC, you best drop everything you’re doing right now and take a trip to your local shopping centre to grab series one on DVD. Written by Matt Berry and Arthur Mathews, the show centres around Steven Toast, a down on his luck middle-aged actor looking to break the big time in London. It is absurd and downright silly, and though it may not be to everyone’s taste it is definitely worth a watch.

At the very least, the talent behind this show should immediately grab your attention. Comedy fans will know Matthews as a writer for both Father Ted and Black Books, whilst Berry has starred in cult shows such as Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace and The Mighty Boosh, as well as playing the role of Douglas Reynholm in The IT Crowd. If you’re a fan of Downton Abbey, you will also recognise Robert Bathurst who plays Toast’s perverted housemate and retired actor Ed Howser-Black.

The series largely revolves around the romantic exploits of Toast, such as dating a closet hoarder/fan of throwing shopping trolleys in the London canals, and sleeping with the wife (Tracey Ann-Oberman) of his longtime acting rival Ray Purchase (Harry Peacock). Occasionally his hapless agent Jane Plough (Doon Mackichan) gets him voiceover work with recording studio hipsters Danny Bear (Tim Downie) and Clem Fandango (Shazad Latif), that is, when his not already busy starring in the most offensive play in the history of London theatre.

If that synopsis sounds utterly bizarre to you, well that’s because it is. Toast of London is definitely in the same vein as Berry’s previous shows, so if you are a longtime fan of the comedy actor the show is essential viewing. If you happen to be one of the unfortunate few who have no idea who he is, the world of Steven Toast is a great introduction to his brand of offbeat comedy.

The only real negative about this show is that like other British comedies, it is criminally short, with only six episodes in the season. However, each of these episodes are instant classics, well worth repeat viewings. It’s hard to pick a highlight, as each episode is near brilliant, though if I had to pick a favourite it would be the final episode “Bonus Ball”. Guest starring Michael Ball, the episode is structured as a James Bond parody in which Toast goes on the run following a poker loss to an off-screen Andrew Lloyd-Webber.

Hilarious running gags include Toast’s unexplained vendetta against Michael Fassbender, revelations about some of the more bizarre early acting roles of Benedict Cumberbatch, and appearances by Toast’s brother Blair (Adrian Lukis), an army veteran who wears a stuffed kitchen glove in place of the hand he lost at war.

As stated earlier, Toast of London may not be for everyone, as it can be quite vulgar at times and it’s offbeat brand of humour is sure to leave some people scratching their heads. However, if you are a longtime fan of British comedy, and the work of Matt Berry and Arthur Mathews in particular, Toast of London is definitely something you have to see for yourself.

Running Time: 194 minutes

Special Features:

The DVD is chock-a-block with special features, including the pilot episode, which stars Fiona Mollison as Jane Plough. Toast of London also includes audio commentary for a number of the episodes, as well as a number of behind the scenes features and a short film about Michael Ball’s guest appearance.

Special Features Review Score: FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Toast of London Series One is out now on DVD through ABC.


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