Freezing. Image shows from L to R: Matt (Hugh Bonneville), Elizabeth (Elizabeth McGovern). Copyright: BBC


  • TV sitcom
  • BBC Two / BBC Four
  • 2007 - 2008
  • 3 episodes (1 series)

Short sitcom series about an American actress and her British book publishing husband. Stars Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Tom Hollander, Ben Miles, Tim McInnerny and more.

Press clippings

Anyone who watched the first two episodes of this three-part comedy may well be hooked by now, not least because it contains the funniest comic performances in years. Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern are perfectly cast as the decent couple struggling to cope in a media world gone mad. Tom Hollander's turn as their friend the agent has a childlike innocence and vulnerability that make him immensely likeable, even as the obscene petulance spews out of his mouth.

David Chater, The Times, 22nd February 2008

The problem I have is that I don't really feel anything for these characters - and I certainly don't feel sorry for them. I just can't empathise with people who bump into Richard E. Grant and Alan Yentob - both of whom cameo here - in their daily lives, and have, as I said before, the most utterly beautiful house.

I also can't believe that they couldn't just pull a few strings with their numerous contacts and get a job instantly, if they really tried.

And then there's the problem that it's not really very funny - I didn't laugh out loud once. I know you're less inclined to do that when watching on your own, as I was, but I didn't even come out of it desperate to see the next episode. The only spark, I'm afraid, came from Elizabeth's agent and Matthew's best friend, Leon. Played by Tom Hollander, he's the archetypal media monster - strutting around the office wearing a headset and ridiculous braces - and yet somehow he's hugely likable. I think this is probably because, in a rather dull and bland world, at least he brings something different. There's nothing terrible about this comedy, I'll admit, but the problem is that there's nothing particularly special about it, either.

annawaits, TV Scoop, 21st February 2008

The secret of Freezing's initial success was probably that - like most good experiments - it wasn't doing anything radically new. Themes included the brittle nature of success, and the pointlessness of much of what gets published. Substitute television for publishing, and both these themes are ones that should be close to any new TV writer's heart.

James Wood threw scathing observations about BBC1's Holby City into Freezing; perhaps it would have been too close to home for him to berate Casualty, Holby's sister show, and one for which Wood has written in the past.

Acute observations, however, were not enough to make Freezing feel as though it would ever reach far beyond a specific audience: namely, one concerned with publishing and the media.

Matt Warman, The Telegraph, 21st February 2008

Freezing is directed by Simon Curtis, who in real life is married to the American actress Elizabeth McGovern. In Freezing, she plays an American actress called Elizabeth, who is married instead to Matt, a publisher who has recently been let go by the publishing house he works for. And, despite being fictional, Matt, played by Hugh Bonneville, is on speaking terms with various of Elizabeth's celebrity colleagues.

Wood's script is mostly built around career disappointment, with Matt haplessly trying to crank up some alternative career and McGovern falling prey to the lethally short life-span of the female screen career. Her agent, played by Tom Hollander as a caricature of vulgar rapacity, wanted her to fill in a quiet patch with a cameo on Holby City, where she had a chance to play a woman allergic to horsehair. But McGovern was holding out for a part in Vincent Gallo's next movie, a sexual road trip, which triggered a certain anxiety in Matt about the director's notorious commitment to authenticity in performance. At which point, it struck me that Elizabeth McGovern would never get cast in a Vincent Gallo movie, and would probably run a mile if approached. He was only the director in question because he made Chloƫ Sevigny give him a blow job in The Brown Bunny and Matt's jealousy needed to be tweaked. And when Alan Yentob turned up - doing a bit of 'I'll have my people call your people' schmooze in another popular Notting Hill restaurant - it occurred to me that the target audience for this series consists of around 1,000 people, almost all of whom have a W11 postcode. It might be more cost-effective just to run off some DVDs and bike it round Curtis and Wood's Christmas-card list.

Thomas Sutcliffe, The Independent, 21st February 2008

Freezing couldn't want so desperately to be smart if it was the kid in class with his hand up, barely containing himself from spouting the right answer. You want to like it, it's a home-grown approximation of the kind of snappy, showbiz navel-gazing comedies that have become instant classics in recent years. Early reviews were adulatory.

Freezing feels forced somehow, not entirely confident in its intended malevolence. Maybe a braver bitterness will emerge, but it reminded me that the wonderful Sensitive Skin, which shares its cerebral wellspring, mined its melancholic tone from the outset - and so far Freezing is faltering, not sure if it's a media satire or domestic comedy, dark or light, cuddly or coruscating. Hollander's toxicity - like Ari's in Entourage - may well become the show-stealing reason to keep watching over the next two nights.

Tim Teeman, The Times, 21st February 2008

There can rarely have been a more monstrously-hilarious sitcom character than bullying, amoral and oddly vulnerable Leon, shoutily declaimed by Tom Hollander. Leon is a showbiz agent who loathes his clients as heartily as he hypes their meagre talents.

Best of all, Freezing creates a witty commentary on the plusses and minuses of marriage from knowing gags about the cliched bathos of Holby City and sly digs at cultural philistinism. Freezing: in its own coolly understated way, it's a hot ticket.

David Belcher, Glasgow Herald, 21st February 2008

Writer James Wood hilariously skewers so many targets - self-obsessed luvvies, disingenuous media types, pretentious foodies, charlatan TV 'experts', to name but a few - that one fears he might never eat lunch in this town again. Indeed, I suspect some scores were being settled - to great comedic effect - by both writer and cast. And Freezing is stuffed so full of gags that you might want to record it while you're watching and replay it immediately to catch the jokes drowned out by your loud laughter. A gem.

Veronica Lee, The Observer, 20th February 2008

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