The Hour, created and written by Abi Morgan, is a television drama set in the 1960s about an investigative news programme called ‘The Hour’ and the team behind it. Whilst the first season dealt with the birth of ‘The Hour’ alongside the threat of spies and double agents during the cold war era, the second season shows the effort made to keep ‘The Hour’ on air after the events of the previous season, as well as the struggle to reveal the truth about a Mafia organisation in the heart of London. The cast includes Dominic West, Ben Whishaw, Romola Garai, Oona Chaplin and Anna Chancellor whilst new members of the cast include Peter Capaldi and Tom Burke.
The three main characters: the anchorman Hector Madden (Dominic West), the producer Bel Rowley (Romola Garai) and the journalist Freddie Lyon (Ben Whishaw) really are the heart and soul of this show. Through their characters’ development these three actors are able to sway the viewers and evoke several emotions, mine especially. Dominic West moved me most as we were shown that there was more to his character than charm and infidelity. The supporting cast, meanwhile, are also fantastic in shaping the drama of the programme; namely Oona Chaplin, Anna Chancellor and Peter Capaldi who excelled in their roles. The joint effort of Chancellor and Capaldi as estranged lovers was a nice touch to the show. Capaldi’s performance was very moving whilst Oona Chaplin’s character’s change from doting housewife to independent women was inspirational. The success of these, and the other wonderful cast members, makes this show a strong ensemble piece.
Compared to the anticlimax of the first series, the second series of The Hour packs more than a few punches. From the offset the show is instantly intriguing and absorbing, giving little time for the audience to breathe between character development and plot twists. The show’s focus on secret organisations, political and police corruption and the throwing of Bel, Freddie and Hector in front of the firing line on more than one occasion helped achieve this. The difference in pace and storyline of this series compared to the last can of course, it seems, be linked to the fact that the first series aimed to introduce us to the characters and the concept of ‘The Hour’, giving the current series room to improve and to take the story further. What I especially liked about this season was its tackling of sensitive topics such as the blackmail of those of high authority, fascism amongst young men during the Cold War and the racial abuse faced by African Americans every day. The gravity and influence that the show might have had in reality by bringing these issues to light was very thought-provoking.
Of course The Hour wouldn’t be what it is without its incredible script, which was written by Abi Morgan (Shame, The Iron Lady). The intensity of the screenplay was both effective in building up anticipation for the next episode and moving, through either action or words. The last twenty minutes of the entire series alone made me shout at the screen and shed a few tears! I loved the cinematography of this series, as well as the first series, as the colours and execution of each shot was fantastically done, thanks to both David Luther (series 2) and Chris Seager (series 1). What I also really liked, and found rather beautiful, was the costume design, by Suzanne Cave, who seemed to capture the style of the period very well. Whilst the music by Kevin Sargent was well composed and executed, a nice touch to the soundtrack was providing each character with their own theme. All in all I feel that this series of The Hour surpassed both my expectations and the standard set by the first series, I greatly look forward to the next one.
The Hour (Series One and Two) is now available on DVD.
Written by Roxy Simons.