Have you noticed how BBC Two has upped its game in the drama department recently? Us too. From The Crimson Petal and the White to The Shadow Line, the channel is really starting to shine. And it's not over yet - Tube Talk is just a bit excited about the upcoming series The Hour, written by Brick Lane scribe Abi Morgan. It's not hitting screens until later in the year, but we were lucky enough to see the first episode at a screening earlier this week and felt we had to spread the news. But why is this show so highly-anticipated? Read on to find out!
The Hour's already been compared to Mad Men, which is not a bad show to be linked to. But, well, it's not exactly accurate. Instead, the series is set in the 1950s (not the 60s) and focuses on a London broadcast newsroom instead of a Manhattan advertising agency. The BBC's launching a new current affairs program and we get to meet the team behind it - producer Bel, her brilliant but difficult friend Freddie, and the new anchor Hector Madden. But it's not all about the show, of course. For one thing, there might just be a bit of a love triangle going on. The group's new program is launching at around the same time as the Suez Crisis. And as if that wasn't enough drama, there's a conspiracy going on - a deadly conspiracy - with some truly chilling moments. With hints of melodrama and noir, it does seem to be a different kind of show.
When Tube Talk discovered who would be starring in The Hour, it was a bit of a jaw-dropping moment. Freddie's played wonderfully by Ben Whishaw (Criminal Justice, Bright Star), who has one of the most fabulously expressive faces in the business. Fresh out of Crimson Petal, Romola Garai takes on the role of Bel and somehow makes her more than just the cliché of a strong woman with vulnerabilities. And just to top it all off, how about chucking a Wire star into the mix? Yep, Dominic West appears in the show as Hector and is just perfect as a charming but smarmy host. That's three top talents right there, and we haven't even mentioned the supporting cast! Also giving performances are ace actors including Juliet Stevenson, Anna Chancellor, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Tim Pigott-Smith... blimey, basically.
The 1950s Setting
So, the plot's exciting and interesting and the cast is incredible. What else? Well, just looking at this show makes you realize how special it is. It's truly stunning to watch. From the claustrophobic newsrooms at Alexandra Palace to the 1950s tube trains to a London hotel to the sparkly new film studios, the attention to detail is exquisite. Speaking at the screening, director Coky Giedroyc admitted that The Hour was one of the "most knackering" jobs she's ever done - but it completely paid off. She wanted it to be "gorgeous and thrilling"; she was hoping it would feel "really textured and colourful and rich". Well, she's succeeded. Everything - the clothes, the vintage pencils, the genuine BBC teleprompters - is absolutely spot on. Of course, the 1950s brings other things too (constant drinking, chain smoking, and casual sexism and racism) and The Hour doesn't skimp in that department. But the show's real achievement is the way it immerses you in the world of 1950s London.
So there you go, then - three reasons why you should be starting to get excited about The Hour. It's airing later this year on BBC Two - but will you be tuning in? Leave your comments below!