The Hour - Series 1 [DVD]
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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
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Top Customer Reviews
The acting, is, as one might expect from a BBC series, superb, not only the leading players, but also the minor characters, including Tim Piggot-Smith and Juliet Stevenson, as the secretive Lord and Lady Elms; Anna Chancellor, as an almost burnt-out foreign correspondent; Oona Chaplin, as the faithful wife of the philandering news anchor; and Julian Rhind-Tutt, as a slippery special aid to Prime Minister Anthony Eden. I was particularly moved, however, by the performance of Anton Lesser, as Clarence, the chief producer, whose very career hangs on the success or failure of "The Hour," a ground-breaking live BBC television news show, which cannot fail to rattle cages, both at the BBC and at Westminster.
One of the factors that makes the series so convincing is the attention to detail as far as the costumes and the settings are concerned. In fact, watching the series took me right back to the 'fifties, jogging my memories about wearing pencil-line wool skirts and cashmere twinsets by day, and buoyant ballerina skirts by night.Read more ›
I've watched all but one episode (yet to air) and have found them all thoroughly enjoyable. The casting, despite some comments below, is spot on - as is the acting. Dominic West is very good as the wealthy privileged newsreader Hector, as is Ben Whishaw as the determined but slightly eccentric reporter Freddie. The background characters - Lix, the powerful dedicated foreign affairs reported, and Isaac, the slightly geeky but keen assistant to Freddie - all complement the main characters well. Julian Rhind-Tutt is excellent as Angus McCain, Eden's slippery Press Advisor. I certainly can't fault any of the acting.
As with many dramas, a range of sub-plots are interwoven: as Freddie looking to uncover a secret MI6 plot, Bel and Hector commence an affair, with the Suez crisis as a backdrop. The series touches on a lot of themes, including the position of women in the workplace, homosexuality in the 1950s, the role of the media (and in particular the BBC) and its relationship with politicians.
All in all, a good drama - I hope it continues.
I loved it - of course it's not realistic or authentic to the period - far too glamorous - but if one accepts it as quality entertainment beautifully dressed (in all senses of the word) then it works very well. I thought it was very well cast and acted and I love that particular period. So what can I say? For me it worked very well and I'm sure I'll watch it again. I hope there will be a second series.
And it has the merit of launching a young and fresh cast who are totally believable and appropriate.
The Hour is an excellent BBC production, as usual
The faults first. The writers hadn't really decided whether it was mainly about spies, a love-triangle, the gender politics of the late 1950s, the Cold War, the birth of a new style of television news or the BBC. The various plot threads were followed seemingly independently of each other for a lot of the drama. However, they did come together in the end.
What made it compelling for me throughout was the high quality acting. I can't think of a weak point in it, so many excellent performances - Dominic West, Anna Chancellor, Ben Wishaw, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Anton Lesser, Tim Pigott-Smith, Juliet Stevenson. Even the lesser characters were very well-served.
If I have missed Romola Garai off that list that's not because of her acting ability but because the character of Bel Rowley was the least successfully written. I think she does well with the part she was given and she lights up the screen. The problem was that character didn't quite work, which was unfortunate because it was a pivotal role. Bel was appointed as the producer of a new flagship news programme but she never seemed to have the gravitas or authority to carry it off - the reason for this is explained part-way through but still it jars.
I very rarely come across a tv programme that I feel I cannot miss and even more rarely one I re-watch again very soon afterwards just to savour it but this is one. The acting is great to watch and it looks beautiful.
I would say - don't expect it to be like Mad Men (a misguided piece of publicity) or to be a documentary about the 1950s (which may mean you start looking for anachronisms that will only distract). It's well worth giving it a chance in its own right.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The usual White supremacist claptrap from the BBC; pretending White culture has changed for the better in the past 60 years. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Frank TALKER
Brilliant story, impeccable fifties atmosphere, excellent production, very good mix of fact, fiction, crime and romance. I can't wait for series three!!Published 15 months ago by Adrea Hennessy
Innovative, excellent performances, and original. Also, congratulations to the designer responsible for Romola Garai's wardrobe. Karin LudewigPublished 21 months ago by Amazon Customer