The first series of BBC1’s The Hour was billed the UK’s answer to AMC mega-hit Mad Men when it started this time last year, but it didn’t take long for viewers to forget that depiction once we got into the twisty, turny conspiracy theories and complication workplace relationships it held within. Now we’re back for series two and, with all of the threads running through last year pretty much tied up, we’re starting with a brand new slate.
It’s been nine months since the show-within-a-show, The Hour, started on the BBC, and a new head of news is shaking things up behind the scenes. Hector is still lead host and Bel staying put as producer, but last year’s ordeal mixed with his father’s death has led Freddie away to Paris for the time in between. Missing her right hand man, we can instantly see that Bel’s heart isn’t in it quite like it was last year, but Freddie soon returns as co-host to pick up the slack for an increasingly flighty and irresponsible Hector. He’s picked up a French wife on the way, too, so his ‘will they, won’t they’ romance with Bel will remain off for now.
A celebrity in a time of relative excess, Hector’s ways haven’t changed one bit. If anything, his bad boy behavior have just been further enabled by the celebrity status a hit news show has given him, and his latest dalliance with a showgirl may provide one of the overriding threads for series two. His wife’s still hanging around, but only just, and it’ll be nice to see his character develop over the next run of episodes. With ITV’s rival new show, Uncovered, trying to steal him away, there might also be trouble in store for his relationship with Bel, Freddie and the rest of the team.
Two fairly well-known faces have joined the show this year, in the form of Peter Capaldi (The Thick of It; Torchwood) and Hannah Tointon (The Inbetweeners; Switch). Both make wonderful impressions here, with the former joining the Hour team and the latter acting as the catalyst for Hector’s troubles. All in all, this episode was a great return for a series that was, at times, too complex for its own good. Things now seem lighter, more relatable, and better to escape with in these troubled times. There’s more of a focus on characters and relationships than on outside scandals and world events, and this makes it more like Mad Men than it ever was during the first series.
What did you think of the episode? Do you the like the decreased focus on politics etc? Let us know in the comments.