Brand new, thrilling six-part series drama about a 1950s newsroom penned by Bafta-winning writer Abi Morgan, whose previous credits include Brick Lane, White Girl
and Sex Traffic
. The Hour
takes us behind the scenes of a broadcast news room in London during the mid '50s, with a highly competitive, sharp witted and passionate love triangle at its heart. We follow the lives of three characters who are tasked to set up a new weekly investigative news show called The Hour
A six part series that was billed, in the run up to its transmission, as Britain having a go at doing its own spin on Mad Men
, The Hour
is actually a show with an identity of its own, and quite different from the hit American drama. It certainly has some similarities, but as it turns out, tonally it’s really quite different.
The Hour’s main attraction, as it turns out, is its cast. Putting The Wire star Dominic West at the heart of the drama proves to be a masterstroke, and he’s ably supported by a high calibre company of acting talent, including Juliet Stevenson, Anna Chancellor and Ben Whishaw. It’s West who drives the drama forward, though, with a trademark skilled central performance. It helps that he’s at the heart of much that happens with the show, too.
What drew the initial Mad Men comparisons was the setting for The Hour. This is a show surrounding a BBC news programme being made in 1956, which happens to be the time of the Suez Crisis. Behind the scenes of the show, there’s sexual politics, ambitions, and pressures from all directions. And that, mixed with a strong attention to period detail, helps make The Hour an engaging drama.
It has a few problems, starting a little too slowly for many peoples’ tastes. Certainly, its first episode isn’t its best by any measure. But it’s very much worth sticking with The Hour. It’s ambitious, high class drama. And while it’s a fair distance from Mad Men, it’s still television that’s certainly not to be sniffed at. --Jon Foster