Toast is a British biographical comedy-drama film written and directed by S. J. Clarkson, it is based on the autobiographical novel of the same name by the cookery writer Nigel Slater. The cast includes Freddie Highmore, Helena Bonham Carter, Ken Stott and Oscar Kennedy.[1] It received a gala at the 2011 Berlin Film Festival.[2][3] As a television film it was first broadcast on BBC One on 30 December 2010 and was given a theatrical release in cinemas on 11 August 2011.[4]

Directed byS. J. Clarkson
Produced byNicole Finnan
Alison Owen
Eugenio Pérez
Paul Trijbits
Faye Ward
Written byLee Hall
StarringHelena Bonham Carter
Freddie Highmore
Ken Stott
Oscar Kennedy
Frasier Huckle
Sarah Middleton
Victoria Hamilton
Corrinne Wicks
Amy Marston
Music byMatt Biffa
CinematographyBalazs Bolygo
Edited byLiana Del Giudice
K5 International
Ruby Film and Television
BBC Films
Screen WM
Distributed byW2 Media
Release date
  • 30 December 2010 (2010-12-30)
(BBC One/HD)
11 August 2011 (theatrical)
CountryUnited Kingdom

In 2018, it was adapted for stage by Henry Filloux-Bennett.[5] It first premiered at Week 53 Festival in March 2018 with a subsequent run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. In April 2019, it opened in London at The Other Palace.[6]


The Slaters of Wolverhampton are plagued with Mrs. Slater's chronic debilitating asthma and her cooking limited to what comes in canned goods that she can heat in boiling water. Mr. Alan Slater is sick with worry and has a cantankerous personality. Nigel longs for a life that is more than a succession of canned-food dinners made from what can be heated in boiling water. When dinner is burnt, the standard substitute of toast is always served. He loves toast, with the crunchy outside giving way to buttery softness inside. Despite her infrequent forays into cooking meals from scratch, his mother's attempts to improve her cooking change nothing before or after her death. His father continues in widowhood with the same cooking style and frequent dinners of toast. The experience brings Nigel to conclude that he is not liked. Nigel learns from a friend that the way in which he could attempt a better relationship with his father is to cook a meal for him.

His cooking efforts are thwarted by the new housekeeper, the married and "common" Mrs. Joan Potter, who seduces Alan with her apple pie and array of gourmet meals. The two start to spend time together: at one point, she exiting her council house through an upstairs window so as not to be found out by her husband. Without announcement, the Slaters move to the Herefordshire countryside along with Mrs. Potter. Nigel co-exists with her but never accepts her. She makes a competition of cooking when the teenaged Nigel's shows an emerging interest in developing his skills at school home economics class cookery lessons. Mrs. Potter's lemon meringue pie becomes Nigel's quest to learn the secret recipe.

Alan's cantankerous nature returns with the endless eating that must be done with Mrs. Potter's excessive cooking, although he intends to marry her. The second Mrs. Slater makes every attempt to thwart Nigel's efforts at cooking by having him quit a Saturday job at a pub restaurant. His departing employment is not without benefit when a friendly walk with the pub owner's son, training at ballet school, stirs Nigel's sexual awareness with a kiss and encouragement to take a chance at the world despite being on his own.

Nigel finds his father has died while he was at the pub, resolves to make off for London and bewilders Mrs. Potter when he declares that she has won and he wants her out of his life. At The Savoy Hotel, he is interviewed for a kitchen job by a toast snacking chef and hired, much to his disbelief. Nigel is reassured by the chef that he will make it, has him put on a chef's jacket embroidered with "Savoy London" and Nigel cracks a smile.


Actor Role Remarks
Helena Bonham Carter Joan Potter
Freddie Highmore Nigel Slater, teen
Ken Stott Dad
Oscar Kennedy Nigel Slater, child His acting debut.[7]
Frasier Huckle Warrel
Victoria Hamilton Mum
Matthew McNulty Josh
Clare Higgins Mavis
Ben Aldridge Stuart
Selina Cadell Ruby
Sarah Middleton Beany
Kia Pegg Primary School Girl
Corrinne Wicks Secondary school teacher
Amy Marston Primary school teacher[8]
Nigel Slater Chef


The chief filming location was in Birmingham and Worcestershire with the Black Country Living Museum transformed into 1960's Wolverhampton, and in Walton Pool House in Clent. Principal sets were constructed in a disused bank on Broad St. The only inclement weather encountered during filming was at Penarth which resulted in script changes to reflect the cold wet conditions. Filming lasted from 21 June to 24 July 2010.[9]


Slater's stepsisters Ann and June Perrens have criticised Toast, stating that their mother, Dorothy Perrens – renamed "Mrs. Potter" in the film – had been falsely portrayed as a seductive cleaner who frequently used foul language. ("I really cannot believe that I pay my licence fee only to have them portray my dear mother as a tart"), and Slater's father, Tony – renamed "Alan" – was also represented in a negative light ("He was a lovely man, an absolute perfect gentleman. He was kind and caring, everyone said it"), although they admit that Tony was not particularly fond of his son. They also claim that while Perrens was indeed a good cook, she never actually served lemon meringue pie, and their stepfather had died of chest pain as a result of a strenuous game of tennis, as opposed to their mother's deliberate overfeeding as portrayed in Toast. Slater has refused to comment.[10]


  1. ^ BBC (12 June 2010). "Toast". BBC1. Archived from the original on 25 June 2010. Retrieved 23 June 2010.
  2. ^ "'The King's Speech,' 'Toast,' 'Sacrifice' Get Galas in Berlin". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. 21 January 2011. Retrieved 13 March 2011.
  3. ^ "Toast at the Berlin Film Festival". Berlin Film Festival. Berlin Film Festival. Retrieved 13 March 2011.
  4. ^ "Toast (2010)". IMDb. Retrieved 19 June 2011.
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ BBC (12 June 2010). "Toast". BBC1. Archived from the original on 25 June 2010. Retrieved 23 June 2010.
  8. ^ "Toast". BBC. 2010.
  9. ^ "Helena Bonham Carter to film new movie Toast in Birmingham and Black Country". Birmingham Post. 23 June 2010. Archived from the original on 2 January 2011. Retrieved 2 January 2011.
  10. ^ Nigel Slater's cooked up a load of cruel lies about our mother, say the food writer's stepsisters after watching BBC dramatisation of his childhood

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