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 2 originally aired on M-Net Series from 11 June to 2 July, 2013, on Tuesdays at 21h30. New episodes broadcast in a double bill, weekly.
Season 2 premiered on M-Net Series Zone on Sunday 27 October 2013, at 21h30. New episodes broadcast in a triple bill, weekly. There are six episodes in the second and final season.
Written and created by the award-winning Abi Morgan and produced by Kudos Film and TV, the second six-part season of The Hour sees the return of Bel (Romola Garai), Hector (Dominic West) and Freddie (Ben Whishaw) alongside beloved Lix (Anna Chancellor), scheming McCain (Julian Rhind-Tutt) and newly assertive Marnie Madden (Oona Chaplin), in this highly acclaimed 1950s newsroom drama.
Season 2 rejoins The Hour team in 1957 where we are introduced to new characters played by Peter Capaldi, Hannah Tointon and Tom Burke.
The six new episodes see the team still striving to broadcast the stories they believe in as they grapple with the looming spectre of the Cold War and changing social mores.
The season charts political intrigue and corruption against the highly charged backdrop of a country in the grip of unsettling and rapid change.
With the space race and nuclear power, Britain seems on the threshold of a new era of modernisation, economic optimism, scientific progress and cultural change in the face of new immigration from the Commonwealth.
But under the buoyant veneer, our characters become deeply embroiled in cover-ups, sexual intrigues and the resurgence of Mosley's fascism.
Bel Rowley (Romola Garai) is still single and determined not to get involved with another married man. Clarence is in prison and she must now report to Randall Brown (Peter Capaldi) the eccentric new Head of News.
Whilst juggling the sparky relationships around her, she finds out that Hector is being lured to ITV. She fights for her programme and finds herself taking on her adversary, Bill Kendall (Tom Burke), a producer whose magnetic charm she can't help but find irresistible.
Hector Madden (Dominic West) has risen to the status of a national celebrity, all whilst maintaining his lifestyle as a happily married man and face of The Hour. He is unsettled by Marnie's (Oona Chaplin) desire to establish her own career and finds himself drawn to the late night clubs of Soho where he befriends Kiki (Hannah Tointon), a club hostess.
No longer happy at The Hour under Randall's new regime, he is tempted by offers from ITV, but when a night at the club goes badly wrong, scandal threatens and Hector must try to stop a news story that could destroy his marriage and his career.
Freddie Lyons (Ben Whishaw), who was fired after The Lord Elms live interview, makes an unexpected return to The Hour. Having been away for several months travelling around the world, he returns as co-host of The Hour, to both Bel and Hector's surprise.
He has, however, not lost his passion to investigate and as he becomes embroiled with exposing a cover-up, it becomes clear that the ghosts of the past will not let Freddie go.
Lix (Anna Chancellor) is still heading up the foreign desk, fighting for airtime for international stories, but a new side to her is revealed when Randall arrives at The Hour.
Meanwhile, McCain (Julian Rhind-Tutt) is now Head of Press for Macmillan, protecting the recently elected Prime Minister and the closed circle of his cabinet.
The Hour was re-commissioned by Janice Hadlow, Controller of BBC Two, and Ben Stephenson, Controller, BBC Drama Commissioning. The 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 (The Nativity) and the directors are Sandra Goldbacher (Episodes 1 and 2), Catherine Morshead (Episodes 3 and 4) and Jamie Payne (Episodes 5 and 6). Abi Morgan wrote Episodes 1, 2, 5 and 6 and Nicole Taylor wrote Episode 3 and George Kay Episode 4.
Season 2 Characters
Freddie Lyon (Ben Whishaw)
Freddie returns to the The Hour, having been fired after the Lord Elms live interview (taking the sword instead of Bel). Gone for several months traveling around the world, a corrupt landlord offers to buy his late father's house in Notting Hill.
Freddie's quest to investigate and expose a secret program of nuclear testing provokes both the landlord and McCain, setting him on a trail that will lead deep into the worlds of backroom Soho and government corruption.
As he becomes embroiled with the cover-up, it becomes clear that the ghosts of the past will not let Freddie go.
Bel Rowley (Romola Garai)
Bel is still single and determined not to get involved with another married man. Clarence's replacement is brought in and Bel must now report to the eccentric new Head of News, Randall Brown, all while juggling the sparky relationships around her (particularly those involving Hector and Freddie).
When she finds out that Hector is being lured to ITV (where both the ratings and salaries are higher) Bel fights for her program. To do so she must take on her adversary, Bill Knowles, but she soon finds the producer's magnetic charm irresistible.
When Hector himself becomes the centre of a big news story, Bel's personal and professional decisions pull in opposite directions, and Bel is confronted with a tricky decision that could change everything.
Hector Madden (Dominic West)
Hector has risen to the status of national celebrity. With connections in Government and pursued by the press, he maintains his appearance as a happily married man and face of ‘The Hour.
Unsettled by Marnie's desire to establish her own career, Hector finds himself drawn to the late night clubs of Soho where he visits a number of high class call girls and befriends a corrupt elite who inhabit this secret world and lead him astray.
No longer happy at The Hour under Randall's new regime, he chafes at a decision to share the screen with Freddie.
When ITV comes calling with offers of more status and money, Hector is very tempted. But then a night at the club goes awry, scandal threatens and Hector must try to stop a news story that could destroy his marriage and his career.
Lix Storm (Anna Chancellor)
Lix is still heading up the foreign desk, fighting for airtime for international stories while Freddie spars with her over domestic affairs.
A new side to Lix is revealed when Randall arrives at The Hour. These two are former lovers – and as the season unfolds, the emotional and complex history they share is revealed.
Lix finds, like Bel, that she is struggling with her idea of herself, forced to confront her own dogged sense of independence.
Marnie Madden (Oona Chaplin)
Marnie auditions for a new role on an ITV cookery program and lands the job. Fanny Craddock meets Julia Childs.
Sublimating her desire for a family that has not so far happened, Marnie throws herself into her new career – which unbalances her relationship with Hector.
However, when scandal threatens to destroy their marriage and both their careers, Marnie finds a renewed strength of character.
Randall Brown (Peter Capaldi)
Randall is the new Head of News for The Hour. A witty, forward-thinking maverick, his sometimes obtuse and perplexing management style and indirect communication often infuriates his co-workers, as does his need to order the minutiae that surrounds him.
Randall is determined to reinvigorate The Hour, but he has other motives for returning to London – namely, Lix. The former lovers share something very special, something that Randall wants to find again.
Bill Kendal (Tom Burke)
Bill seeks Bel's romantic affections, and Hector's professional graces as the head of the dueling ITV program Uncovered.
Kiki Delane (Hannah Tointon)
Kiki is the young, beautiful, talented singer and 'star attraction' at El Paradis, the Soho Club run by the charming (but dangerous) Raphael Cilenti.
It's at El Paradis that she meets Hector, who falls for her feminine charms and it's this relationship that sets off a chain of events that includes corruption on a massive scale, putting Kiki and her friend at the Club, Rosa Maria, in danger.
Angus McCain (Julian Rhind-Tutt)
Angus is now Head of Press for Macmillan, protecting the recently elected Prime Minister and the closed circle of his cabinet.
However, McCain is also implicated in the scandal at Hector's drinking club and must use all his powers to prevent the truth from becoming public.
Camille (Lizzie Brocheré)
Camille is Freddie's surprise French wife who he brings back to London with him from his recent travels, which immediately causes a riff between he and Bel.
Rosa Maria (Hannah John-Kamen)
Rosa is one of the performers at El Paradis, and gets mixed up in Kiki's scandal involving Hector. Freddie and Bel both try to seek secret information from her.
Raphael Cilenti (Vincent Riotta)
Mr. Cilenti is the charming and dangerous owner of El Paradis, the Soho Club where Kiki performs and where Hector gets into trouble.
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)
The production secretary for The Hour team, Sissy brings heart and humour to the office. She may be the least educated member of the team, but she makes up for it with life skills and is a perceptive and resourceful secretary.
When things get tough around the office, she is a breath of fresh air and can be relied upon by all. Inspired by Bel, she yearns for more responsibility but realizes that her current role is a foot in the door.
She forms a relationship with an African American man, which causes controversy.
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