The Hour You Can’t Miss


Yesterday, for reasons passing understanding, the BBC announced they were axing The Hour. Heavens no, we all cried. Usually I’m pretty relaxed about TV shows I watch being cancelled. Not this time. Oh, no.

With a downturn in scripted television a result of the ascension of reality TV, it has become even tougher to come across original, quality programming. Of all the networks, the BBC has the greatest responsibility to provide quality. And maybe, every now and again, that doesn’t necessarily just mean bonnets.

The Hour was the standout show of 2012 for me. Anyone who’s talked TV with me since I discovered it will vouch that I persistently recommend The Hour at any opportunity. With none of the dried-up soapy-ness of Downton’s more recent episodes and a refreshed approach to period drama, every episode of The Hour was captivating. The costumes and sets were suitably seductive, showcasing iconic fifties fashion, and the actors proved an impressive ensemble. Along with the beautifully detailed aesthetics, though, came a depth of storytelling that filled the series with thrills. Not relying on its superficial strengths, The Hour consistently avoided shallow storytelling or melodrama. Nope. The writing, the visuals and the acting were a clean sweep of class.

What I loved was that it was not a procedural drama. Every week there were new twists to the plot that underpinned the series, tying the arc together and never allowing a storyline to turn stale. Characters were artfully defined, always distinct and always relevant. No one was surplus, and the audience’s perception of every character was always evolving. Oh, Hector, you’ve come so far.

The number one reason why I’m so troubled by its premature cancellation is that it was so very undeserved. The quality was steadily improving. In fact, while I love the show as a whole, the second series was about twenty times as good as the first. Just think of the possibilities for the third series! I have every confidence that the storylines would have divulged whole new facets to these now beloved characters. In Year 2, characters I wasn’t mad keen on at the beginning suddenly became far more complex than I had anticipated and we were introduced to Randall Brown, maybe the best of all. It is a true tragedy that we’ll only ever get one series of Peter Capaldi’s turn as the quietly brilliant but melancholic head of news. Toby Ziegler-esque, no?

Not only was Series Two a triumph, the finale was one of the best I’ve ever seen. Ben Whishaw was un-bloody-believable. How dare he shatter my heart like that. Oh, the tears I’ve cried. The two most moving scenes must be singled out: Randall’s breakdown upon learning that his daughter had long since died and Freddie’s bloody, teary final moments. Final moments of the episode, that is. Not his life. He’s not dead. No way. Nope. Don’t you dare.

When I watched the series two finale with my best friend, she foolishly commented, “Oh, they won’t kill off Freddie” about halfway through. I gave her my tempting-the-wrath-from-high-atop-the-thing glare but silently agreed. Things, for Freddie, went a little awry from there. And now we’ll never know…


I hope BBC Two can live with itself. That’s all I’m saying.

Note: you can sign the petition to #savethehour by clicking here.