New to the BBC this summer is a 6 part drama, The Hour, written by Abi Morgan. Set in 1956 on a British topical news programme (think Panorama in a prior incarnation perhaps) at the time of the Suez crisis, The Hour, according to Ben Stephenson (Controller BBC Drama commissioning) aims “to [re-establish] BBC2’s reputation as the home of distinctive, intelligent and ambitious drama”. The BBC press release says that a competitive and sharp-witted love triangle (ouch, I don’t want to be in one of those) will be the lens through which viewers will see the defining events of the decade unfolding. The backdrop to this is a mysterious murder and a controversial and dangerous journalistic investigation.
With a suitably strong cast, including Dominic West, Ben Wishaw, Romola Garai and supported by Tim Pigott-Smith, Juliet Stevenson and Julian Rhind-Tutt among many others, the ingredients for a cracking 6-parter are firmly in place.
My only concern is that it will be unfairly labelled the BBC’s Madmen. Whilst I can understand the superficial comparison – set in the 1950s, looks and feels as authentic and stylish (from the trailer at least, see below) – I think this will prove to be unfair. Certainly Abi Morgan has only given viewers 6 episodes and of course the show will not span the decades and detail quite the social changes that take place over the course of Madmen. If anything, the trailer makes me think more of the opening credits to the outrageous cartoon Archer.
The Hour starts on July 19th at 9pm on BBC2.