All-star cast announced for Abi Morgan’s new BBC Two drama series The Hour

by Lisa McGarry

Romola Garai (Emma, Atonement), Dominic West (The Wire, The Devil’s Whore) and Ben Whishaw (Bright Star, Criminal Justice, Brideshead Revisited) lead an all-star cast as filming begins on The Hour, a thrilling six-part series which takes viewers behind the scenes of the launch of a topical news programme in London 1956, written and created by Bafta award-winning Abi Morgan (White Girl, Sex Traffic, Brick Lane, Murder) and produced by Kudos Film and Television.

With a highly competitive, sharp-witted and passionate love triangle at the heart of the series, it’s through the lives of enigmatic Bel and her rivals, Freddie and Hector, that viewers will witness the decade on the threshold of change – from the ruthless sexual politics behind the polite social façade of the Fifties to the revelations that redefined the world for a new generation.

Over the six episodes, the interplay and intense ambitions between our rising news team play out against the backdrop of a mysterious murder and Freddie’s controversial and dangerous investigation.

Ben Whishaw plays Freddie Lyon, a brilliant and outspoken journalist, whose passion endlessly lands him in trouble. Getting to the truth of a story can be a dangerous and risky business and it’s Bel, his contemporary and best friend, who is always there to bail him out. For Freddie, Bel is so much more as well – if only he were brave enough to tell her.

Romola Garai plays Bel Rowley, spirited and ambitious and facing the most exciting and daunting challenge of her life – running The Hour. Can her passion for the truth survive the political pressure the job will bring – and will her friendship with Freddie survive her undeniable attraction to front man Hector?

Dominic West plays Hector Madden, charming, charismatic – a man whose upbringing and education have instilled in him a sense of entitlement and whose glamorous young wife has the family connections to get him the job as front man on The Hour. But, beneath the confident façade, Hector has a lot to prove. Bel provides the challenge – and the spark.

Ben Stephenson, Controller, Drama Commissioning, says: “The combination of Ben Whishaw as Freddie, Romola Garai as Bel and Dominic West as Hector gives us one of the most exciting casts for a British TV series in years.

“Our trio crackle with sexual frisson and will bring Fifties London to life with style and complexity thanks to Abi Morgan’s breathtaking scripts.”

The Hour’s supporting cast includes Tim Pigott-Smith and Juliet Stevenson as Lord and Lady Elms; Anton Lesser as Clarence Fendley, the BBC’s Head of News; Anna Chancellor as Lix, The Hour’s brave and maverick hard-drinking foreign correspondent; Julian Rhind-Tutt as Angus McCain, the Prime Minister’s eyes and ears; and Oona Chaplin as Marnie Madden, Hector’s spoilt beautiful wife.

Jane Featherstone, Creative Director and executive producer, Kudos Film and Television, says: “We are chuffed to bits to be working with the fantastic Abi Morgan again, this time on her first series for television.

“The Hour is a stunning character-driven piece, focusing on the lives of three characters as they confront their own features for their futures while the country does the same. It’s compelling, original and will make irresistible viewing.”