|Country of Origin:||UK|
|External Links:||Wikipedia; IMDb|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
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.
As of January 2014, Freddie, Bel & Lix were the most popular characters on AO3, followed by Randall & trailed by Hector. This was still the case in 2021.
Uncharacteristically for AO3, het or m/f pairings predominate in The Hour fanfiction.
- Freddie/Bel is the most popular pairing, probably fuelled by the one-sided UST that permeates the first season, together with the events of the S2 finale: 157 out of 486 stories on the archive as of 09/2021.
- Lix/Randall came close behind, after their canonical history was revealed in S2; as of September 2015 it was only just trailing Bel/Freddie: 146 stories as of 09/2021.
Common tropes include:
- Future fic, in general fix-its for the S2 finale cliffhanger
- Crossovers: with Doctor Who due to the casting of Capaldi as the Doctor in 2014, with James Bond due to Ben Whishaw being cast as Q in the Daniel Craig movies.
- Modern AUs: 14 works
- Making the News by Kabal42. Freddie/Hector. (2011)
- tore down the house of commons in your brand new shoes by postcardmystery. Freddie/Hector/Bel (2012)
- this black and white photo can't capture my skin by voodoochild. Randall/Lix, Freddie/Lix. Lix origin story (2013)
- Impatient Both of Delays and Rivals by disenchanted. Edgy Adam/Angus (2014)
- (Podfic) running you with red by sophinisba. Freddie/Lix. (2013)
- (Podfic) Small Truths by greedy_dancer. Lix gen. (2013)
- (podfic of) Rush by neverbalance (locked to AO3 users). Freddie/Bel. (2013)
- (podfic) tore down the house of commons in your brand new shoes by growlery. Freddie/Hector/Bel. (2013)
- digital drawing by a012-anna-art, Freddie/Bel (2017)
- photoset by fitz-simmons, Freddie/Bel, black & white (2020)
- I only think about this man digital portrait of Freddie by elements-united (2021)
- Freddie + Bel }} everytime you go by who cares. Freddie/Bel. (2011)
- Cold Water by voodoochild (locked to AO3 users). Randall/Lix. (2013)
- Bel and Freddie - The Hour - Bleeding Out by Silver Vintage Videos. Freddie/Bel. (2013)
Archives, Communities, Blogs
- Blog at the Guardian -- interesting discussion in comments