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The Hour is a 2011 BBC drama series, written by Abi Morgan and starring Ben Whishaw, Dominic West and Romola Garai. The series centres on a new current affairs show being launched by the BBC in June 1956, at the time of the Suez Crisis (a period setting which has led to comparisons with Mad Men). Bel Rowley (Romola Garai) is the producer of the Show Within a Show; her friend Freddie Lyon (Ben Whishaw) loses the presenter interview to well-spoken Eton boy Hector Madden (Dominic West) but she persuades him to stay on as a researcher. Meanwhile Freddie is suspicious about the reported suicide of an old friend, and when he starts to notice shadowy men following him around, it only confirms his suspicions.
The most common criticism made of the show was of thematic inconsistency; the two main threads of let's-run-a-groundbreaking-TV-show and let's-investigate-a-government-conspiracy had little to do with each other, and while both interesting in their own right sometimes gave the show a disjointed Wake Up, Go To Work, Save The World feel. One review called it "Drop the Dead Donkey meets Spooks".
Premiered on BBC Two on 19 July 2011 and on BBC America in August. Following the airing of the final episode of the first series, it was announced that a second series had been commissioned.
Tropes present in this work include;
- Affectionate Nickname: Freddie and Bel sometimes call each other James and Moneypenny. As you would imagine, this does nothing to defuse the UST.
- Amateur Sleuth: Freddie, in his spare time
- Aw, Look -- They Really Do Love Each Other: From 1x04: Freddie and Bel's conversation in the bar about the future:
Bel: And we'd be happy?
Freddie: Ecstatic. We wouldn't want to be anywhere else...with anyone else.
- Career Versus Man: Bel isn't willing to give up her career for marriage or become The Mistress for Hector.
- Dramatic Hour Long
- Everybody Smokes: invoked/lampshaded; Isaac tries to take it up because "everyone else does".
- Executive Meddling: in-universe; Angus is firmly of the belief that the BBC should take a pro-government line. Freddie and Bel think the new show should break from this tradition and provide objective journalism.
- The Fifties: 1956, to be precise.
- Going for the Big Scoop: No matter how many people warn Freddie against sticking his nose where it doesn't belong, he can't help himself.
- Gorgeous Period Dress: It's set in The Fifties. Commence swooning.
- Government Conspiracy
- Held Gaze: Bel and Freddie, all the time.
- Hysterical Woman: Angus tells Bel she only got the Producer job because Clarence thought she would be "easier to steer" than a man.
- Intrepid Reporter
- It's Personal: Freddie's interest in Ruth's death is initially sparked by the fact that she's an old friend.
- Just Friends: Bel and Freddie
- Love Triangle: Freddie has feelings for Bel, who's sleeping with Hector, who's jealous of Bel and Freddie's extremely close friendship.
- The Mole: The reason MI 6 are taking an interest in Freddie is that they suspect there's a soviet mole in the BBC, and he fits the profile.
- Mole in Charge: Clarence
- Never Suicide
- Public Secret Message: Freddie discovers that the spies are being contacted through codes embedded in the daily crosswords.
- Pull the Thread
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Clarence, in contrast to Angus, fights his subordinates' corners on occasion.
- Running Time in the Title: both the show's title, and that of the Show Within a Show
- Shirtless Scene: Freddie and Hector both have their share of these.
- Show Within a Show: a pioneer of the Prime Time News genre
- Waistcoat of Style: Freddie spends most episodes in a rather nice knitted one.
- We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties: To the best, most chilling, most ironic effect.
- Your Cheating Heart: Hector.