Iceland Foods: Life in the Freezer Cabinet

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Iceland Foods:
Life in the Freezer Cabinet
Iceland Foods.png
Genre Factual
Directed by
  • James Rogan
  • Max Shapira
Starring Malcolm Walker
Narrated by Ashley Jensen
Composer(s) Mat Davidson
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 1
No. of episodes 3 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)
  • Lucy Hillman
  • Samantha Anstiss
  • Alisa Pomeroy
  • Max Shapira
Running time 60 minutes
Production company(s) Films of Record
Original network
Original release 21 October (2013-10-21) – 4 November 2013 (2013-11-04)
External links
Production website

Iceland Foods: Life in the Freezer Cabinet is a British documentary television series about the Iceland supermarket chain that was first broadcast on BBC Two on 21 October 2013. The three-part series was co-produced with the Open University.


On 6 June 2013 Janice Hadlow, controller of BBC Two, announced the series along with several other documentaries.[1] Filming took place for around a year and includes the supermarket's reaction to the 2013 meat adulteration scandal.[2]

Lucy Hillman, an executive producer for the series, said:

Films of Record has a strong reputation for obtaining exclusive access to the subjects of its documentaries, and after 30 years in the business the company is trusted more than ever with unlimited access to organisations to portray them responsibly.[3]

Episode list[edit]

# Title Directed by Original air date UK viewers
1 "Episode 1" James Rogan 21 October 2013 (2013-10-21) 2.43
Malcolm Walker, the CEO of Iceland, shows the importance of a happy workforce to Iceland. He delivers a £10,000 prize to the best-performing stores.[5][6]
2 "Episode 2" James Rogan 28 October 2013 (2013-10-28) 2.34
Iceland deals with the 2013 meat adulteration scandal. A new store opens in Treorchy, Wales, and Alastair Crimp tries to come up with a good name for his product.[7]
3 "Episode 3" James Rogan 4 November 2013 (2013-11-04) 2.39
Iceland embarks on 'refresh' to boost sales following a slow start to the year. The company attempts to create a new advert but are undecided which line to take. Malcolm tries to simplify the stores and a couple get married, serving an Iceland buffet.[8]


An Iceland store in Jersey


Overnight figures show that the first episode was watched by 2.06 million viewers on BBC Two.[9] Official ratings raised the figure to 2.43 million.[4] It was watched by 8.7% of the television viewers during broadcast.[9] The second and third episodes had 9.7% and 9.8% audience shares respectively.[10][11]

Critical reception[edit]

Gerard Gilbert, writing for The Independent, called Malcolm Walker "a television natural."[12][13] Andrew Collins of The Guardian called the series a "reasonably fair-minded, hierarchically democratic and only quasi-promotional snapshot of Iceland's working life".[14] The Daily Mail called it a "hilarious new reality show" and added that the first episode "deliver a few laughs".[15] Time Out gave the first episode three stars out of five and said: "It’s a successful structure that creates tension and intrigue, but unless forthcoming episodes look at potentially uncomfortable issues, this is in danger of being little more than a three-hour advert."[16]

The Metro's Keith Watson said it "would have made a fine sketch show" and also gave it three out of five stars.[17] Sam Wollaston of The Guardian wrote in his review:

I think I'm making it – the programme – sound better than it is. This kind of docusoap about an institution – with a hint of sarcasm in the actor's narration (Ashley Jensen here) to ward off accusations that it's little more than a promotional film – feels very (at least) 10 years ago. The recent call centre one maybe just got away with it because the boss there, Nev Wilshire, was so colourful and appalling [sic]. Malcolm Walker simply doesn't have the personality to carry it. Too grey, like Alastair's prawns in bacon.[18]

Radio Times said Walker "doesn't build himself up as a personality".[19] Emma Willis, the head of documentary commissioning at the BBC, said this documentary was one to look out for.[3] The Independent said there "won't have time to fully explore the relationship between food and class in the coming episodes."[20] New Statesman contributor Rachel Cooke said she found all the "details fascinating and funny. But beyond the comedy, this series has blazed with real pathos and insight."[21]


  1. ^ "BBC Two announces return to Modern Times alongside raft of new documentaries". BBC. 6 June 2013. Retrieved 20 October 2013. 
  2. ^ Douglas, Joanne (21 October 2013). "Grange Moor supermarket boss Malcolm Walker swaps store for TV screens with fly-on-the wall documentary". Examiner. Retrieved 22 October 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Considine, Pippa (21 October 2013). "Iceland Foods BBC2 obdoc from Films of Record". Televisual. Retrieved 22 October 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "BARB Top 30s". 
  5. ^ Butcher, David. "Iceland Foods: Life in the Freezer Cabinet". Radio Times. Retrieved 29 October 2013. 
  6. ^ Crawford, Carena (21 October 2013). "Monday's TV pick: Iceland Foods: Life In The Freezer Cabinet". Reveal. Retrieved 22 October 2013. 
  7. ^ Butcher, David. "Iceland Foods: Life in the Freezer Cabinet". Radio Times. Retrieved 29 October 2013. 
  8. ^ Rackham, Jane. "Iceland Foods: Life in the Freezer Cabinet". Radio Times. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  9. ^ a b Eames, Tom (22 October 2013). "'Doc Martin' finale attracts over 7 million on ITV". Digital Spy. Retrieved 22 October 2013. 
  10. ^ Eames, Tom (29 October 2013). "'Ripper Street' return thrills over 5 million on BBC One". Digital Spy. Retrieved 29 October 2013. 
  11. ^ Eames, Tom (6 November 2013). "David Tennant's 'Escape Artist' drops nearly 1 million on BBC One". Digital Spy. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  12. ^ Gilbert, Gerard (21 October 2013). "What to watch tonight: TV choices - Monday 21 October". The Independent. Retrieved 22 October 2013. 
  13. ^ Gilbert, Gerard (18 October 2013). "Television choices: Setting the gold standard for drama and treachery at the National Theatre". The Independent. Retrieved 20 October 2013. 
  14. ^ Collins, Andrew (19 October 2013). "Iceland: Life In The Freezer Cabinet - yet more real-life TV from the BBC". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 October 2013. 
  15. ^ Johnston, Jenny (18 October 2013). "A hilarious new reality show reveals what goes on behind closed doors at supermarket chain Iceland..." Daily Mail. Retrieved 20 October 2013. 
  16. ^ Zappaterra, Yolanda (14 October 2013). "Iceland Foods: Life in the Freezer Cabinet". Time Out. Retrieved 20 October 2013. 
  17. ^ Watson, Keith (22 October 2013). "Iceland Foods: Life In The Freezer Cabinet revealed the food snobbery at the heart of Britain". Metro. Retrieved 22 October 2013. 
  18. ^ Wollaston, Sam (22 October 2013). "Iceland Foods: Life in the Freezer Cabinet – TV review". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 October 2013. 
  19. ^ Edworthy, Sarah (21 October 2013). "Iceland's founder on running his business like Apple's Steve Jobs". Radio Times. Retrieved 22 October 2013. 
  20. ^ Jones, Ellen (22 October 2013). "TV Review: Iceland Foods: Life in the Freezer Cabinet, BBC2". The Independent. Retrieved 22 October 2013. 
  21. ^ Cooke, Rachel (14 November 2013). "Life in the Freezer Cabinet: The strange tale of Iceland food". New Statesman. Retrieved 1 December 2013. 

External links[edit]