|Country of Origin:||UK|
|External Links:||Wikipedia; IMDb|
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The Hour is a British historical television drama, made by the BBC and first broadcast in 2011. Set in the 1950s, the series centres around a fictional news programme. There were two seasons of six episodes.
The main characters are the triangle of Bel Rowley, the show's producer; Hector Madden, the show's philandering presenter with whom she has an affair; and Freddie Lyon, a talented reporter on the home desk who lives in Bel's pocket (played by fan favourite Ben Whishaw). Popular secondary characters include Lix Storm, an older female journalist on the foreign desk; Marnie Madden, Hector's aristocratic wife; Angus McCain, a government spin doctor who's a closeted gay man; and in S2, Randall Brown, the new head of news (played by Peter Capaldi).
The first season features a spy thriller plot unfolding against the background of the Suez Crisis. The second season focuses on urban racial tensions and crime against women. A pervasive theme is the conflict between the show's progressive staff, the BBC management and the government.
Penumbra writes, in a review of the finale of season 1:
While not a flawless show, The Hour is a surprisingly nuanced look at the interpersonal and political tensions and pressures of 1956; unlike the writers of some shows, the writers of The Hour understand that personal pressures like the desire to succeed as a woman in spite of the patriarchy, and the way in which male privilege manifests differently for different men, informs the way people respond to political pressures. While most male characters on the show display some misogyny, the way that manifests differs in a way which depends on (1) who is displaying it and what they have to gain from it, and (2) who they are targeting with it; while homophobia pervades the reality of the show, it manifests differently in Marnie (who, in a sense, has to make a display of it as a way of ingratiating herself with the straight men who control her life), Hector (who almost certainly considers himself ‘progressive’ as a man who understands that gay men are also people, but who is not against using knowledge of their sexuality as a weapon against specific gay men), and Freddie (who is not so much homophobic as completely unaware that gay people even exist). The show is driven by complex ethical and personal dilemmas and characters are defined by the decisions they make in context of what they stand to gain, both personally and politically, and what they stand to lose; nobody behaves in ways which can’t be explained from the framework of who they are as a person. Nothing on The Hour is meaningless, nobody lives ‘lightly’ — it all matters. And the sheer, rare brilliance of this, of the way in which the show has been structured and the way it unfurls on emotional and intellectual levels has made it one of the most entertaining and engaging shows on television right now — and more than worthy of a second series.
Much discussion has centered around the character of Bel. Many fans question whether she is realistic for the period; some feel that she is poorly written or that Romola Garai is miscast, others consider her just plain wet. Lix's characterisation, on the other hand, is generally popular.
Historical accuracy, or lack of it, is another topic often discussed. The dialogue has been criticised as anachronistically modern by some fans, while others like its liveliness.
The Hour has a small but enthusiastic fandom, drawn by the interesting female characters, among other aspects. Several stories were written for Yuletide 2011 and the show was a popular request in 2012–2014. Common tropes include fix-its for the S2 finale cliffhanger.
As of January 2014, Freddie, Bel & Lix are the most popular characters on AO3, followed by Randall & trailed by Hector. At least on AO3, het (m/f) pairings predominate in fanfiction. The most popular pairing so far has probably been Bel/Freddie, fuelled by the one-sided UST that permeates the first season, together with the events of the S2 finale. In January 2014, Lix/Randall was fast catching up in popularity, after their canonical history was revealed in S2; as of September 2015 it is only just trailing Bel/Freddie. Bel/Hector & Freddie/Lix are also fairly popular het pairings. There's a growing amount of f/f, including Bel/Marnie & especially Bel/Lix, some Freddie/Hector slash, a little of the Bel/Hector/Freddie threesome, plus a good dollop of gen. The casting of Capaldi as the Doctor has led to some crossovers with Doctor Who.
- this black and white photo can't capture my skin by voodoochild. Lix origin story (2013)
- Impatient Both of Delays and Rivals by disenchanted. Edgy Adam/Angus (2014)
Archives, Communities, Blogs
- Blog at the Guardian -- interesting discussion in comments
- thehour_tv: reviews: the hour 1x05 and 1x06 (accessed 21 November 2012)