Make time for BBC America’s ‘The Hour’

Dominic West stars in “The Hour,” premiering Aug. 17 at 10 p.m. on BBC America.

Men wear fedoras and smoke in the office, where smart women are establishing themselves as more than secretaries.  BBC America has your summer TV retro fix, but this isn’t “Mad Men.”

Political thriller “The Hour” takes place in the newsroom of the BBC circa 1956, a polarizing post-war era when journalists are throwing themselves into stories of international espionage while fighting to report impartial news outside of government control. 

“It was amazing to be reminded of how exciting and noir-ish the Cold War period was … the phone tapping and one looking over the shoulder and not being sure who was spying on who,” says star Dominic West, who plays Hector Madden, the face of the investigative news program from which “The Hour” takes it name. “That instantly makes for dramatic tension when you set [the series] inside the BBC, which is being monitored by the government and presumably by the Russians and everyone else who was involved in politics at that time.”

Madden is the character connecting the yes men of the old news system to the younger generation challenging government-dictated journalism in the name of reporting the truth. “He has the wit to make the transition,” West says. “Of all the characters, he’s a guy who has to make a transition from something deferential and wartime to what became, I suppose, the swinging ’60s.”


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