‘The Hour’: Series 1 episode guide

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Romola Garai, Dominic West and Ben Whishaw star in The Hour, Abi Morgan’s new BBC Two drama which takes viewers behind the scenes of a broadcast news room, coming to BBC Two in July.

> Order the DVD on Amazon.

Ben Whishaw is Freddie; Romola Garai is Bel; Dominic West is Hector; Anton Lesser is Clarence; and Vanessa Kirby is Ruth Elms.


Episode 1
Tuesday 19th July 2011, 9pm

June 1956. Alexandra Palace, London, and BBC reporters and soulmates Bel Rowley and Freddie Lyon have had their fill of covering dull and predictable stories in the newsreels.

When Bel is approached by Clarence Fendley to run a new weekly current affairs show called The Hour, she spots an opportunity for her and Freddie to make the kind of ground-breaking news show they’ve always yearned for. Knowing that she is to be made producer, a role Freddie covets, Bel fears she’ll have a tricky time convincing her headstrong friend that a role on the home desk is a prize worth having.

At the Claringdon Hotel in the centre of London a debutante has slipped away from her engagement party to make a phone call. Across town an academic is on edge, having spotted a familiar face watching him during his lecture.

When Freddie is asked to cover the engagement party he discovers that the debutante is Ruth Elms, an old childhood friend. Ruth seems unhappy and when Freddie later receives a visit from her, she asks him for help investigating a murder.

As Freddie’s suspicions grow, he realises his only hope of pursuing the story is to join the team of The Hour. But having found out that Bel will be producer, his pride burns. Matters are compounded when Freddie and Bel meet Hector Madden, the charismatic new presenter of the programme, to whom Bel is irresistibly attracted.

As The Hour team is assembled, Freddie will be forced to decide where his priorities lie. What’s more, he’ll find a vital clue in the investigation of the academic’s death and will find himself thrust deep into a darker tragedy.


Episode 2
Tuesday 26th July 2011, 9pm

July 1956. The Hour is struggling; the ratings are down, the reviews are terrible and Hector and Freddie are bickering like children.

Freddie, still reeling from Ruth’s death, is convinced she was murdered and desperate to understand what secret the cigarette paper holds. Meanwhile, Peter’s murderer – Tom Kish – has begun working as Lix’s new assistant on the foreign desk.

The news that Nasser has nationalised the Suez Canal sends ripples through the newsroom. Bel knows their only hope is to pull off a brave interview with an Egyptian diplomat, but is Hector up to the challenge?

As the team prepare for what will be their most risky programme yet, Bel and Hector are brought closer together under the watchful presence of Hector’s wife, Marnie, and an impromptu meeting with Ruth’s devastated father, Lord Elms, provides Freddie with a vital clue which will bring him closer to the truth but one step further into danger.


Episode 3
Tuesday 2nd August 2011, 9pm

September 1956. After Hector’s brilliant interview with Mr Hafiz the fortunes of The Hour seem to be picking up and the ratings certainly are. The team enjoy a weekend invite to a shooting party at Hector’s in-laws.

The attraction between Bel and Hector seems stronger than ever and Hector struggles with his growing feelings for Bel, despite Marnie’s presence. Meanwhile, at the office, suspicion about Tom Kish is mounting and Isaacs on the case.

At the grand country mansion, Bel is irked by the sudden appearance of Angus McCain. It seems they can never shake off his barbed comments and constant observations. Freddie can’t resist a dig at the government’s ill fortunes in Suez and there’s a sense that all is not well in Downing Street.

As the weekend gathers pace Freddie’s crossword continues to baffle him and he’s now certain there’s a hidden code in the jumble of letters, a vital clue as to who killed Peter and Ruth.


Episode 4
Tuesday 9th August 2011, 9pm

October 1956. It’s Freddie’s birthday and the effects of Tom’s death are still being felt around the newsroom. Though publicly Tom’s judged to have suffered a heart attack, MI6 have become a regular presence in the newsroom and it seems that Freddie in particular is being monitored.

Still wracked with guilt over Tom’s death, Freddie visits Tom’s widow, Jane Kish. On realising that Jane was the one behind the camera in Ruth’s film, Freddie recognises she could hold vital information.

The relationship with Bel has given Hector a new-found sense of freedom and his confidence is at an all-time high. As the team grapple with two huge news stories – the impending bombardment of Egypt by the British Air Force and the rising revolution in Hungary – it is Hector who steers the coverage.

Elsewhere, Isaac hopes that his latest idea for the programme will bring him closer to Sissy.


Episode 5
Tuesday 16th August 2011, 9pm

November 1956. With British troops now fighting on the ground in Egypt, the country is more divided than ever. As Prime Minister Eden addresses the nation on his reasons for military action, the battle lines are drawn and The Hour sits firmly in the middle. McCain steps up his pressure on The Hour to toe a pro-government line, but as a huge anti-war protest is planned for Trafalgar Square, Freddie has other ideas.

Freddie heads home to find Lady Elms in conversation with Malcolm. She calmly warns Freddie to drop his investigation and leave the family alone but Freddie is defiant. Meanwhile, Lix has made a discovery about Tom Kish and Peter Darrall which suggests someone close to The Hour knows more than they’re letting on.

The stakes are high as Freddie, Hector and Isaac head out to Trafalgar Square. With Freddie pushing them ever further into the thick of the action they find themselves with some truly controversial footage. A visit from Marnie finds Bel under fire from Clarence. He issues a stern warning; continue the affair and it will end her career.


Episode 6
Tuesday 23rd August 2011, 9pm

November 1956. The Hour is about to go live and there are tensions for all. Bel is determined that the BBC’s commitment to impartiality means they cover both the arguments for and against the war in Egypt but McCain and Douglas have other ideas.

Freddie too seems to be on a mission – he has a mystery guest lined up for the show but there’s a question mark over whether he’ll turn up. Hector has been sleeping at the office and there’s clearly tension between he and Bel in the aftermath of Marnie’s visit. Hector and Bel have to come to a decision about their affair.

Freddie is surprised to find himself in Clarence’s office and grapples with what to do with Clarence’s information. He has a further shock when Lix reveals the full scope of Peter and Tom’s Egyptian mission, and the real reason for Ruth’s death. With McCain and Douglas casting an ever-watchful eye over proceedings, all their futures hang in the balance as the studio clock starts to tick.