‘The Hour’

This post may initially seem irrelevant as The Hour hasn’t been on since the end of last year, and had quite a short run when it was. However, as of thirty seconds ago I know that The Hour won’t be coming back for a third series. This news has shocked and disappointed me, and in order to attempt to come to terms with it I’m going to write about it.

Like many people, I started watching The Hour because the idea of a drama set in the 1950s appealed to me, especially as it was set in the BBC and about the creation of a new (and entirely fictional, as far as I know) topical television show. Critics claimed was ‘the British Mad Men’, but I don’t think that claim did it any favours – Mad Men has been critically adored, whereas the reaction to the first series of The Hour wasn’t entirely positive. I considered giving up on it several times, but I wasn’t able to let go – partly because I wanted to see how the series story arc panned out (I don’t remember), partly because I wanted to see Ben Whishaw’s charming face on a weekly basis (still do), and partly because I don’t give up on things. I stuck with it, and as that first series drew to a close I’m not sure I was rewarded. If the news had come that The Hour had been axed after the first series, I don’t think I would have been surprised.

However, the second series was a revelation. Everything took a turn for the better (although not in the show itself, as things got steadily worse for everyone until a frankly devastating climax): the individual storylines were memorable and contributed to a dark and intriguing overall plot, the acting was good, and the relationships (while not exactly believable) were moving. The line “you are possible with me” still brings a lump to my throat as I think about it now. It wasn’t an easy watch, but it was compelling. As the series ended we felt like we’d been put through the ringer, and we wanted to know how things would turn out for everyone – quite like the end of Inception, you could try and interpret it in whichever way you wanted (although admittedly you would have to be quite emotionally desperate to believe in a certain outcome). But now we’ll never know, and this makes me sad.

Yes, The Hour was mixed, and a little inconsistent, and it wasn’t watched by many people. I can understand why the decision to axe it was made, but that doesn’t make it any better. I will miss it immensely, and I know others will too. So until something as equally absorbing comes on to our screens I’ll mourn the loss of The Hour.


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