The Hour – Final Review

As the six-part series draws to an end, can it live up to its promise?

Just days after the first series of The Hour came to an end, it was announced at the Edinburgh International Television Festival that the show has been renewed. Though we were given all the answers to the spy-ridden investigations, the series wasn’t entirely given a satisfying closing episode – but the ride to get there was definitely an enjoyable one. It’ll certainly be interesting to see where they go in a second series.

Episode four picks right up where the previous episode ended, and Freddie is dealing with Kish’s death, and with being followed by obvious MI-6 agents. Paranoia is drawing in on Bel, Freddie and Hector and they’re all being further drawn into the investigation into Ruth Elms’ death. Freddie’s also started to bother her parents, who he’s known since his teens, to get further hints on what was going on.

Hector’s learning more about the news, and applying himself and his skills to benefit the show as well as pursuing an affair with Bel. Despite the ‘romantic triangle’ aspect, Freddie takes news of the affair mildly; by now he’s far too fixated in the intrigues going on in his life – though he does blow off steam by getting together with Lix after a drinking session.

In the newsroom, everyone is preparing for the upcoming episode of ‘The Hour’, which finally makes it to air in episode 6. Hector and Freddie go to cover a protest against war over Suez and witness and tape police brutality in action. And there’s plenty more friction with Angus McCain, the representative of the Eden government played by Julian Rhind-Tutt.

We see a lot more of Lord and Lady Elms (Tim Piggott-Smith and Juliet Stevenson) who certainly add gravitas when sharing screen-time with Ben Whishaw’s Freddie. Lord Elms actually plays a very significant role in untangling mysteries and getting Freddie to the information he needs to solve the problem. Even if that does mean Freddie learning a lot more about his childhood friend, Ruthie, in the process.

Despite criticisms of the veracity of the language used in the show, which writer Abi Morgan has admitted, I learned a decent amount about the Suez crisis and the rules regulating broadcasters at the time – with a 14-day gag rule for anything discussed in the Houses of Parliament. Our intrepid team get around this by using an odd satirical sketch in the middle of their TV broadcast – a not very subtle affair contributed by Freddie’s assistant, Isaac.

The final episode does have some odd pacing issues – there’s a lot of exposition and maybe even some conclusions being jumped to. The shock reveal didn’t come as a huge surprise, but I was gratified to see a show tie up so many loose ends as it doesn’t happen often enough. Overall, this isn’t perfect television but it’s a classy contribution from Abi Morgan, the acting ensemble and the BBC – bringing something slightly different for us to watch.

The Hour can be watched on the BBC iPlayer now.

Rebecca Brodeur

Updated: Sep 06, 2011

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