Upsetting news for fans of the BBC’s 1950s drama The Hour – we won’t be going back to the newsroom for a third series. The Radio Times has confirmed that the award-winning period piece starring Dominic West, Romola Garai and Ben Whishaw as the staff of a fictional BBC current affairs program has been axed by BBC2 and will officially join the ranks of great shows left unfinished. (Cue wailing and gnashing of teeth from everyone who saw the Series 2 finale. Seriously, that’s unfair.)
“We loved the show but have to make hard choices to bring new shows through,” the BBC said in a statement. The Hour was nominated for an Emmy and a Golden Globe for Best Miniseries last year and its second series received a fair amount of critical acclaim. Sadly, the drama’s ratings weren’t particularly strong, especially as compared to its first series totals, and it struggled to find an audience last winter.
This news is especially disappointing given the fact that Series 2 ended on a cliffhanger and left a number of significant plot points unresolved. While The Hour’s news team successfully broke the organized crime story that served as Series 2’s central mystery, we’re going to be left forever wondering whether Whishaw’s Freddie survived a brutal beating at the hands of gangsters, what exactly was meant to happen with West’s Hector and his wife’s marriage and whether Freddie and Garai’s Bel Rowley ever worked out all their relationship issues or not (the show’s centerpiece will they/won’t they romance had finally managed to confess their feelings in the series’ final episode). Seriously, the last shot of Series 2 was gutwrenching – Freddie’s broken body lying in front of the BBC offices while he struggled to say Bel’s name – and it’s even more so now that this will serve as the final image for the show, too.
Obviously, I’m quite heartbroken at this news, as I quite loved The Hour’s smart writing, fantastic cast and commitment to presenting viewers with intelligent television (that you actually had to pay attention to). Given the way the last episode of Series 2 concluded, it would seem that there was no way that those involved in producing the drama expected that they wouldn’t get a third series (you don’t leave a major character in jeopardy like that if you don’t think you’ll get to tell people what happened afterward).
Apparently thousands of fans have already started a petition to convince the BBC to resuscitate the show. You can sign it here – in all honesty, it’s unlikely that any petition like this would do anything to move the needle once the network’s decision has been made, but if you’re a fan of The Hour it might make you feel a bit better. (Over 7,000 people have already signed it – so clearly those of us who are in mourning for the show are not alone!)
How about you all - will you miss The Hour?