Tuesday, 3 December 2013


The Hour is about the creation and making of "The Hour" a series news show for the BBC in the mid 50s.

The following may contain very mild spoilers, although it tries to avoid doing so.  The "The Ending" section will mention if a show had a resolution or a cliffhanger (but no description of what happens).

2011 - 2012

Length:  12 hour long (59 minute) episodes - 2 series of 6 episodes each.

Ending:  Massive unresolved cliffhanger.

Think:  The Newsroom (2012) but set at the BBC in the 50s.

Creator:  Abi Morgan (Emmy: Outstanding Writing for a mini-series, movie or special 2013)


  • Freddie Lyon - Ben Wishaw
  • Bel Rowley - Romola Garai
  • Hector Madden - Dominic West
  • Lix Storm - Anna Chandler (BAFTA Best Supporting Actress 2012)

Freddie Lyon has ideas that will change television news, he has the drive, foresight and know-how to pull it off, but his arrogance means management will never work with him.  Bel Rowley is his best friend, the only person who can tell him when he's wrong and the charm, leadership ability and intelligence to actually bring about change.  Hector Madden is slick, charming and connected and is the face of their new show:  "The Hour."

Series 1 (2011)
A series of deaths that no one else seems to think important leads Freddie into a world of espionage and puts him up against the British government as the Suez Crisis begins.  Bel must walk the thin line of helping her friend and keeping the show on the air.

Series 2 (2012)
As Hector becomes a celebrity he becomes caught up in the corruption in the London nightclub scene of the 50s.  Someone from Lix's past returns to her life and brings up unwelcome memories.

The Run:
The show starts strongly but feels a little disjointed for the first couple of episodes to settle in and really get going, but continues to strengthen through the first six episodes.  The second series stumbles a little in some subplots in the first episode, but is quickly back up to speed building to a powerful final episodes.

Each series is a single self-contained story.  Although episodes do have an individual focus, they are part of the bigger story and as such is perfect for marathon viewing or bulk viewingeither a series at a time or in a single block  The complex nature of the story means that staggered (even weekly viewing) is less desirably - like picking up a book and reading a chapter one a week.  That complex nature also means it is one of those shows you need to give full attention to, not watch while doing other things.

This is one of those shows with quality writing (all but episodes 3 & 4 of series 2 written by Abi Morgan), quality directing and quality acting (with scene in the series 2 final between Ana Chandler and Peter Capaldi that just amazes.)

Like The Newsroom it may be too idealistic, portraying the journalism the way the writer (and probably audience) would like it to be rather than how it was (especially 50 years ago).

The Ending:
Series 1's cliffhanger is a "is this the end?" moment, where either that's it or they need to find some way to bring things back together (or not) next series.  Series 2, however, ends on a massive cliffhanger, the final moments having you hoping for to be told how something turns out; just an answer, one way or the other, but it is left hanging.  Due to low ratings, The Hour was cancelled after two series.

Watch it if...
...You're a "TV snob" who likes quality television and can handle a cliffhanger ending.

~ DUG.

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