The Hour - on Blu-ray & DVD

Tuesday, 30 August 2011 00:00

I make no bones of it - I am convinced that the version of news and current affairs we get from the BBC, in the 21st Century, is nothing short of misleading distortion. The border between journalism and propaganda has been breached, and on almost every issue “Auntie” tows a line which can be systematically broken down and discredited. So, to see our State Broadcaster sponsor and transmit a series such as The Hour, is nothing short of remarkable.

We are transported back to 1950s Britain. A time of rising conflicts abroad, and the truth being stifled by Government - putting the BBC and its reporters in a very difficult position. No matter what they try, they are blocked from revealing precisely what is happening in foreign climes as well as our own shores.  Restrictions are inflexible, the lobbyists unyielding, and then the true nature of this drama reveals itself. 

The Hour - out now on Blu-ray and DVDThis is an SOS from the BBC – telling us exactly the pressures they are currently under, just as they were in the 1950s.  We are given, by metaphor, the reasons why they cannot tell the truth in their current news and current affairs output.

Written by Abi Morgan, the award-winning screenwriter of Sex Traffic and Brick Lane this is a drama that follows a sinister conspiracy, laced with the intense ambition of its heroes and the unwillingness of some of the villains to reveal the true nature of what they have all become involved with.

This is London. The year is 1956. At Lime Grove Studios, the BBC are launching a new topical news programme, filling a gap in the market, known as “The Hour”. Up until this point, the news had just been plodding narration of days-old footage, with the occasional sombre onscreen presenter.

At the heart of the action are three journalists, with different approaches. The enigmatic producer is Bel Rowley (Romola Garai) a spirited woman in a man’s world, who is surprised as anyone else to find herself elevated to such a pivotal position.

Her long-time best friend, Freddie Lyon (Ben Whishaw), is a reporter who wears his passion and commitment very much on his sleeve. He struggles at first to come to terms with Bel having been given the top job over him.

Finally, there is the charming, well-connected front man, Hector Madden (Dominic West) – very much forced upon the team, finding himself well out of his comfort zone and in a role well above his actual level of competence. The fact that he’s married doesn’t stop him making a play for Bel.

Freddie is determined to cover a significant but controversial breaking story, which immediately catches attention by the ferocity in which people are trying to get him to let it go. The trio become entangled in an intense interplay of politics, ambition and romance, ignited by a mysterious murder and what turns out to be a chilling conspiracy.

The Hour’s supporting cast includes Tim Pigott-Smith and Juliet Stevenson as Lord and Lady Elms, key figures in the unravelling conspiracy; Anton Lesser as Clarence Fendley, the BBC’s Head of News; Anna Chancellor as Lix, the 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.

The Hour explores the ruthless politics behind the polite social facade, and ultimately it reveals the secrets that will bring down a British Prime Minister and redefine the world for a new generation.

There is a potential for a second season of episodes, and something the writer would actually like to put into production, so this story may not be as self-contained as we first thought.

There are a disappointing couple of extras with this release – “Behind the scenes of “The Hour” (10 minutes), and “Creating The Hour’s Set Design” (20 minutes). It’s not that what was there was not well executed, just that there was so little of it.

This is a drama that gives us much to think about in today’s day and age – I just hope enough viewers can pick up on the smoke signals coming from the script.  Fifty five years on, the cast of players on the international stage may have changed, but the over-arching story hasn’t.  We need to finally pay attention to the elephant in the living room.  Our mainstream media, including the BBC, has been compromised, and the truth is being hidden in plain sight, behind a charade of deception and Orwellian newspeak – where we are told black is white, and that what is good for us is as bad as it can possibly get.

The Hour is out now, with a running time of 360 minutes approx, a ‘15’ certificate, and RRPs of £30.63 (Blu-ray) and £25.52 (DVD), or get it for less at



Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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