This has been billed as the British answer to the MAD MEN. This claim initially drew me to the show plus it stars Dominic West (aka Jimmy McNulty) from THE WIRE and I am a WIRE tragic. But let me state right now, this show is nothing like MAD MEN. It is absolutely brilliant but utterly different. I am a huge fan of MAD MEN but I think this show is even better.
I can see why the comparisons are made. The show is set in the 1950s and it seamlessly captures the time period from the costumes and sets to the social mores. It is also set at the birth of an industry, in this instance Television journalism, and examines women’s changing role in the workplace but that is where the comparisons end. MAD MEN captured America at its height just before the Vietnam War. THE HOUR captures Britain a decade after World War Two and the country is still coming to terms with a changing world and its role in it.
The big difference with THE HOUR is that it is intensely plot driven where as MAD MEN was much more character driven. The show centres on a new, hour-long, news and current affairs show that digs deeper into the news than the newsreels. The show is headed up by young female producer, Bel Rowley (Romola Garai) and is hosted by Hector Madden (Dominic West) who has used his ‘connections’ to get the job. Its chief ‘home affairs’ journalist is the idealistic and working class Freddie Lyon (Ben Whishaw). The relationship between these three characters is mesmerizing. The three all have a vision of what they want the new show to be and what they want each other to be. Sometimes their views fit together, often they have to work around each other. Freddie is the driving force though and he pushes the boundaries at every opportunity. When an old friend of his dies is mysterious circumstances he cannot let it go and digs and niggles until he gets the answers he requires despite the possible sinister consequences.
I have no idea when THE HOUR will screen in Australia or whether it will be on Foxtel or the ABC. I hope it screens sooner rather than later because this is fantastic television that you will be telling your friends to watch as well.