Toast: The magic and humour in memoirs of my childhood suppers

Thursday 30 December 2010, 09:00

Nigel Slater Nigel Slater Author

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When I started writing Toast it never crossed my mind it might one day become a film, let alone one starring Helena Bonham Carter and Freddie Highmore.

The book had started life as a short story about the food of the 1960s and 1970s for my weekly Observer column, but I soon realised that the food I was writing about was impossible to separate from what was happening in my life at the time.

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She immediately recognised the magic of the story, the humour and fairy tale element. I knew at once my story was in safe hands.

It was SJ who first suggested Helena Bonham Carter for the role of my stepmother.

Helena is full of surprises as anyone who has seen her in Fight Club or Enid knows and I was excited at the prospect.

Casting Victoria Hamilton as mum was a little more straightforward. I immediately recognised mum's quiet elegance and gentle nature in her.

The casting continued in this original and spirited manner.

Ken Stott proved to be the perfect reincarnation of my father, and Oscar Kennedy and Freddie Highmore who both play me at different stages of my life, turned out to be an extraordinary piece of déjà vu for me, both of them showing the determination and vulnerability I had at that age.

The sexual element of Toast - it is, after all, a coming of age story - was an integral part of the book and I was concerned how it would translate onto the screen.


The film touches on the sexual thread of the book, but in a more subtle way. This may disappoint a few readers who are hoping for a visual romp through the book's more colourful and varied sex scenes but it makes it easier viewing.

The days I spent on set were enjoyable but emotional.

It is one thing to read the last words you ever said to your mother on paper, another thing altogether to hear them being shouted over and over again through headphones.

That said, it is extraordinarily comforting to turn around with tears in your eyes and find everyone else crying with you.

Nigel Slater is the author of Toast.

Toast is on BBC One at 9pm and on BBC HD at 11pm on Thursday, 30 December.

The producer of Nigel Slater's Simple Suppers, Jennifer Fazey, has written a post on the BBC Food blog about how Nigel takes classic recipes and gives them a new twist.

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.

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Comments

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    Comment number 1.

    An enjoyable drama showing life in the past and the special love between a mother and son. Good to see Nigel follow his interest and heart. Excellent casting.

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    Comment number 2.

    A totally absorbing, apetising and time-travelling story that unfolded to reveal the formative years of the gentle TV chef, Nigel Slater. His journey from wolverhampton to London’s Savoy was totally enjoyable. Triumph over adversity.
    A notable mention has to also go to the atmospheric soulful soundtrack – I feel a Dusty Springfield revival coming along This is my first review that I ever written, but I felt compelled to express my appreciation for a well-written piece that was totally enjoyable with excellent acting. As Nigel would say... 'Sublime'.

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    Comment number 3.

    i just love watching nige cook he seems so nice. and i just watched toast and i thought it was brilliant didnt know much about him untill then what a moving story about his life! brillant little nige what a star. enjoyed it thanks x

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    Comment number 4.

    I absolutely loved this! I cried loads, laughed loads and enjoyed reminicising about my own youth in the 60's. Another piece of BBC at it's best.

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    Comment number 5.

    Thanks to everyone involved in providing this Christmas treat! Perfectly judged with Nigel's cameo giving a wonderfully hopeful and life-enhancing final touch.

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    Comment number 6.

    Tonight programme was JUST BRILL it was a moving film. And to see Nigel at the end was icing on the Lemon Meringue. Nigel Slater Just the best.....
    Thanks for making my nights veiwing great...

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    Comment number 7.

    "Toast" was absolutely brilliant! Great performances all around, excellent art direction and full of emotion. And it was also one of the most beautiful on-screen kiss between two men.

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    Comment number 8.

    Didn't know what to expect but found it funny and sad at various times. Excellent and well done to all!

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    Comment number 9.

    Absolutely loved this - touching, funny, properly scripted, and made me really hungry

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    Comment number 10.

    Really enjoyed this. Some great comic moments but I was crying or close to tears throughout. I'm not usually a weeper nor a poster of comments but think I've been particularly moved by it being a true story. So glad it all seems to have turned out well for Nigel in the end! Thanks to all concerned.

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    Comment number 11.

    Thank you, really enjoyed it, great cast and brilliantly acted, pleased to see Nigel himself at the end, a bit of a Hitchcock moment, must read the book.

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    Comment number 12.

    This is what I have been waiting for! A wonderful dramatisation of the extraordinary relationship between a lovely mother and her son who grew into the Nigel Slater we know and love. The casting was excellent, the film heart wrenching but so so inspiring. I must get the book... more tears on the way no doubt..

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    Comment number 13.

    Toast took me through every possible emotion. My mother died when I was a child and I endured an unwelcome stepmother, similar to Nigel's experience. First class acting. First class writing. Thank you, Nigel, for sharing your early life. I'm so happy that you followed your dream and wish you continued success.

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    Comment number 14.

    The book was absorbing, evocative and poignant. This television adaptation was entertaining but failed to covey so much that was important to the autobiography. Too many liberties with the text, too sanitized and too many omissions. In fact it stopped several years too early. Will we get Toast II at some point?

    To all those that enjoyed this, please go and buy the book: it's brilliant!

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    Comment number 15.

    A superb adaption of Nigel Stater's book. BBC Drama at its best

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    Comment number 16.

    That was the best, it really took me on an emotional roller coaster. I love watching Nigel's cookery programmes and wonder if next time I watch there will be a tear in my eye. Thank you Nigel for sharing this with us. I am glad Nigel found the strength to stand up to all the adversity he faced, I certainly find him an inspiration and since watching him cook have changed my ways in the kitchen!
    I dont think this could have been cast better either

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    Comment number 17.

    It was absolutely lovely enjoyed every min and the soundtrack made it cos im the worlds biggest dusty fan ever! nigel LOVE YA ALL THE CAST WERE BRILLIANT TOO!

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    Comment number 18.

    "Toast" is one more Gem in the BBC crown.

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    Comment number 19.

    I watched 'Toast 'last night the story of Nigel Slater and his struggle with childhood,family tragedies and Nigels rise to the culinery star that he is.I was utterley blown away with how the story gripps you,beautiful piece of television.I utterley enjoyed every minute of it.Well done BBC.All BBC programmes are brill,but now and again something comes along that is pure perfection, and 'toast' is that.The last thing i watched that was this good was probably 'Good Night Mr Tom'with John Thaw. I have a message for Nigel Slater,your a wonderful person,and a blumming fab cook

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    Comment number 20.

    Fantastic piece of TV Laughter and Tears the best production this Christmas. Sets and costume amazing and photography breathe taking. Hats off to Mr Slater and team, just one thing could we have seconds please!

 

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