The Hour (2011)

Genres: Drama, Period Drama



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Season 1

The Hour is a British period drama television series created by Abi Morgan and produced by Kudos Film and Television which revolves around the launch of a new current affairs news programme launched by the BBC in June 1956 called The Hour, with a highly competitive, sharp-witted and passionate love triangle at the heart of the series.

The series aired in the UK on BBC Two from 19 July, 2011 to 13 December, 2012. There are 12 hour-long episodes in two seasons.

The Hour premiered in South Africa on M-Net (simulcast in HD) on Tuesday 25 December 2012, at 20h30. It later aired on DStv's M-Net Series and M-Net Series Zone channels. See "Seasons" below for seasonal broadcast dates and times.

Season 1 originally aired on M-Net from 25 December, 2012 to 29 January, 2013, on Tuesdays at 20h30. New episodes broadcast weekly.

Season 1 later aired on M-Net Series from 5 May to 9 June, 2013, on Sundays at 20h30. New episodes broadcast weekly.

Season 1 then aired on M-Net Series Zone from 13-20 October, 2013. New episodes broadcast in a triple bill weekly, at 21h30. There are six episodes in the first season.

Season 1

Romola Garai, Dominic West and Ben Whishaw lead an all-star cast on The Hour, a thrilling series which takes viewers behind the scenes of the launch of a topical news programme in London 1956, written and created by Bafta award-winning Abi Morgan (White Girl, Sex Traffic, Brick Lane, Murder) and produced by Kudos Film and Television.

With a highly competitive, sharp-witted and passionate love triangle at the heart of the series, it's through the lives of enigmatic Bel and her rivals, Freddie and Hector, that viewers will witness the decade on the threshold of change – from the ruthless sexual politics behind the polite social façade of the Fifties to the revelations that redefined the world for a new generation.

Over the six episodes, the interplay and intense ambitions between our rising news team play out against the backdrop of a mysterious murder and Freddie's controversial and dangerous investigation.

Ben Whishaw plays Freddie Lyon, a brilliant and outspoken journalist, whose passion endlessly lands him in trouble. Getting to the truth of a story can be a dangerous and risky business, and it's Bel, his contemporary and best friend, who is always there to bail him out. For Freddie, Bel is so much more as well – if only he were brave enough to tell her.

Romola Garai plays Bel Rowley, spirited and ambitious, and facing the most exciting and daunting challenge of her life – running The Hour. Can her passion for the truth survive the political pressure the job will bring – and will her friendship with Freddie survive her undeniable attraction to front man Hector?

Dominic West plays Hector Madden, charming, charismatic – a man whose upbringing and education have instilled in him a sense of entitlement, and whose glamorous young wife has the family connections to get him the job as front man on The Hour. But beneath the confident façade Hector has a lot to prove. Bel provides the challenge – and the spark.

The Hour's supporting cast includes Tim Pigott-Smith and Juliet Stevenson as Lord and Lady Elms, Anton Lesser as Clarence Fendley, the BBC's Head of News, Anna Chancellor as Lix, The Hour's brave and maverick hard-drinking foreign correspondent, Julian Rhind-Tutt as Angus McCain, the Prime Minister's eyes and ears, and Oona Chaplin as Marnie Madden, Hector's spoilt beautiful wife.

Executive producers are Jane Featherstone, Derek Wax and Abi Morgan for Kudos Film and Television and Lucy Richer for the BBC. The producer is Ruth Kenley-Letts (Nativity) and the lead director is Coky Giedroyc (The Nativity, The Virgin Queen).

Season 1 Characters

Freddie Lyon (Ben Whishaw)

Born and brought up in Notting Hill, home affairs correspondent Freddie Lyon is a grammar school boy who excelled. His mother, May, died two years ago, leaving him alone to cope with his father, Malcolm, who is struggling with dementia.

Freddie is brilliant, more than he knows. Outspoken and often brighter than those he works with, his contemporary, Bel, is one of the few people who totally get him.

A meeting of opposites, Bel sees in Freddie a similar determination to rebel against his upbringing and to forge a new life in a society free of the shackles of class and wealth.

An agitator and provocateur, Freddie has worked with Bel for the last four years and fallen in love with her, a fact he keeps close to his heart. Freddie has never had a committed relationship; this is in part due to his experience during the war as a teenage evacuee with the Elms family, and the impact living with the aristocracy had on him.

Freddie affects a witty disregard for the upper classes and the world they represent, but when The Elms' daughter, Ruth, comes to him for help he is once more reminded of the guilt he felt on leaving her all those years ago.

Bel Rowley (Romola Garai)

Educated at a leading Ladies College, Bel Rowley is the daughter of Verda and Clive Rowley, a banker who she rarely sees. Verda, a former showgirl who married well financially, has spurned married life, stirring scandal by divorcing Clive after a very public affair.

Throughout her life, Bel has been a good girl. The endless affairs with married men were her quiet act of rebellion, but over time she has come to the realisation that she is simply mirroring her mother.

Freddie is her best friend and soul mate and she has grown so used to having him around that it is only within her new role as producer of The Hour that the friendship begins to shift and fundamentally change.

Hector's charm and relaxed demeanour both attract and frustrate Bel. Whilst others at first discount him, she sees a hidden passion in Hector and a potential for brilliance.

However Bel's new found bond with Hector does not sit easily alongside her deeply embedded friendship with Freddie, will it eventually force Bel to re-evaluate her priorities?

Hector Madden (Dominic West)

Born into a distinguished if distant family, Hector Madden is one of three sons brought up by his widowed father. Sent away to boarding school, Hector has a deeply rooted sense of entitlement.

Hector's own upbringing and education has formed him into a charming and charismatic man and this makes him perfect for the role of presenter on The Hour.

Hector's marriage to Marnie was welcomed by her father, a lower middle class industrialist and member of the new post war rich. Hector is desperate to prove himself and feels blighted by a marriage under strain. Bel provides the intellectual challenge and spark he has been searching for.

Hector's deepest secret is that at the heart he longs to escape the establishment and yet is frightened of placing himself outside of it.

Clarence Fendley (Anton Lesser)

Head of News, Clarence Fendley has worked for the BBC since the early Thirties, having covered the Second World War in London.

From a military family, Clarence is a thoughtful man. The Hour, born in part from his own desire to see the presentation of news change within the BBC, is also a vehicle for Clarence to bring together some of the best minds in the BBC.

Clarence sees in Freddie a future Editor in Chief and his natural heir, though he keeps this information largely concealed from Freddie and those around him.

Angus McCain (Julian Rhind-Tutt)

Angus McCain is one of Anthony Eden's press advisors and as a liaison between the government and the BBC he seeks to maintain a firm influence over any politically sensitive programming. His loyalty to Prime Minister Eden is born out of a deep belief in Britain and everything it stands for.

Single, McCain is discreet about his sexuality and though he has girlfriends it has been in question in the past.

Lix Storm (Anna Chancellor)

An eminent war correspondent, Lix Storm is very comfortable in the world of men. Her quick wit and dry sensibility covers a series of deep scars, aware that her past is there to haunt her when she sobers up.

Living on a constant cocktail of whisky and Gauloises, Lix anaesthetizes herself from the pains of the world and is a good and competent drunk.

With the seizure of the Suez Canal, Lix sees a story that will challenge the country and its sense of empire and leaps at it, fearless and ready to put herself on the line.

Isaac Wengrow (Joshua McGuire)

Freddie's assistant, Isaac Wengrow, is the youngest child and only boy in a family of five sisters all brought up in East London.

The grandson of an orthodox Jew from Eastern Europe, Isaac is the first in his family to be born in Britain and his parents are fiercely proud of him, a young man with a great comic ear and with a yearning to write sketches for television.

Finding a mentor in Freddie, Isaac is hugely impressed by his boss and wishes to emulate him. Isaac is also harbouring a crush on Sissy that will challenge him through the course of the series.

Sissy Cooper (Lisa Greenwood)

Sissy Cooper is a giggler, a breath of fresh air and the least educated member of the team. And yet what Sissy lacks in education she makes up for with life skills, a perceptive and resourceful secretary.

Inspired by Bel, Sissy yearns for more but comes to see that her role as production secretary is key. A life force and a brilliant spirit, Sissy brings heart and humour to the office and can be relied upon by all of the team when it gets tough.

Marnie Madden (Oona Chaplin)

Marnie Madden and her brother Ralph have never wished for anything in life. The indulged children of millionaire industrialist Wallace Sherwin, Marnie's life is on course when Hector gets the job on The Hour.

She knows Hector does not love her as she loves him, but hopes with time and the influence of her father, that Hector will come to see what she can offer him.

Over the course of the series, Marnie finds new steel when her marriage and future with Hector comes under threat and she faces Bel, a woman who is the opposite of everything that she aspired to be.

Wallace Sherwin (Ken Bones)

A rich industrialist, Wallace Sherwin made a fortune during the war supplying arms to the British forces for which he was duly rewarded after the war.

Invited into the inner circle, Wallace lacks the class or education he now bestows on his children but sees in Hector an investment on which he expects a good return.

Wallace has connections both in the world of politics and the BBC and is a quiet manipulator of proceedings.

Douglas Owen (John Bowe)

A long-serving newsman and now Director of Programmes, Douglas Owen started his life in the Foreign Service. Moving into television news, Douglas has worked his way up as a product of the establishment.

When faced with Eden and McCain's growing demands for control of the corporation, Douglas finds himself on another frontline where the battle lines between corporation and Westminster are as keenly drawn as they were in war.

Ruth Elms (Vanessa Kirby)

Twenty one and beautiful, Ruth Elms spent the year after finishing school studying at university where she met and was seduced by Peter Darrall, a brilliant academic and political mind.

Young and idealistic, Ruth, despite her education and the relative affluence of her life, was deeply neglected as a child by her mother, and sought comfort in her busy father, a man who she could talk to but who gave her little time.

Freddie was the lifeline in her early years and she grieved his absence. Now as her relationship with Peter destabilises her life it's Freddie who she turns to once more.

Lord Elms (Tim Pigott-Smith)

Lord Elms is an eminent lawyer and was a decorated soldier during the First World War. May Lyon, Freddie's mother, was one of his first secretaries and he stayed in close contact with her during the Second World War.

A quiet benefactor to Freddie, Lord Elms took Freddie in and found in Freddie the son he never had. However an allegiance to the old world establishment has forced Lord Elms to make difficult choices in his life and he constantly kept those closest to him, including his daughter, at a distance.

Lady Elms (Juliet Stevenson)

A cold and distant woman, Lady Elms is racked with denial, a woman who is fighting back the seeping guilt and grief she feels. She is unable to break the shackles of her privileged upbringing, having lived in India until marriage to her husband.

Part of a dying generation and the old empire, Lady Elms disapproved of Freddie's presence when he was evacuated to live with them during the Blitz and was the harsh voice that would not allow Lord Elms to permit Freddie staying after the war.

Lord Elms has never truly forgiven her for the daily snobberies and the entrapped world that she forces them to live in.


Note: the transmission on M-Net was simulcast in HD. Only the first season aired on M-Net.

Season 1 (6 episodes)

Channel: M-Net | Premiere: 25 Dec 2012 | Finale: 29 Jan 2013 | Tue, 20h30
Channel: M-Net Series | Premiere: 5 May 2013 | Finale: 9 Jun 2013 | Sun, 20h30
Channel: M-Net Series Zone | Premiere: 13 Oct 2013 | Finale: 20 Oct 2013 | Sun, 21h30

Season 2 (6 episodes)

Channel: M-Net Series | Premiere: 11 Jun 2013 | Finale: 2 Jul 2013 | Tue, 21h30
Channel: M-Net Series Zone | Premiere: 27 Oct 2013 | Finale: 3 Nov 2013 | Sun, 21h30

Season 1 Cast

Adam Le Ray

Angus McCain

Bel Rowley

Clarence Fendley

Douglas Owen

Freddie Lyon

George Hemmings

Hector Madden

Isaac Wengrow

Jane Kish

Lady Elms

Lix Storm

Lord Elms

Marnie Madden

Ruth Elms

Sissy Cooper

Thomas Kish

Verda Rowley

Wallace Sherwin

Naguib Hafiz

Police Officer

Professor Beckett

Radio Speaker (voice)


Sey Ola


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