Jingle bells, jingle bells. It’s Christmas time at The Hour, but nobody’s feeling particularly festive. In fact, the feeble paper chains hanging in the office look more like the aftermath of a party rather than a concerted effort to inject some fun. Journalism clearly doesn’t stop for a Christmas break.
The Hour does have a tendency to whizz through the important topics and is always keen to shoehorn in the key cultural changes of the era. After Freddie solved the problem of race in episode two, we moved onto homosexuality this week with the publication of the Wolfenden Report.
We’ll be in 1958 soon, so I’m getting my ‘Headline Bingo’ card ready with references to the Munich air crash and Krushchev’s appointment as Russian leader.
The Wolfenden storyline was helpful to the gangland story arc, which continued to bubble away nicely. Though the same can’t be said for the sudden revelation that Randall and Lix had a child together during the Spanish Civil War who was subsequently given up for adoption. It was nicely acted by Peter Capaldi and Anna Chancellor, but as the last two episodes had been slow burners it all seemed to come out a bit quickly.
But back to Soho. Kiki the showgirl had gone missing and the team were keen to find her, which led to some touching naivety from Bel when asking another showgirl why she hadn’t gone to the police. Kiki reappeared and thanks to the helpful spot of a hideous raffle prize at her Mayfair flat Freddie discovered the link between Kiki and Commander Stern, who had beaten her up and was heavily involved in the attempted framing of Hector for the crime.
This now meant Hector’s turn to shine. Having spent the first two episodes moping about and drinking a lot, he seemed to be going even further into the gutter as his star faded and his wife’s (complete with TV Times cover plugging her cooking show) rose. But by the end of the episode, Wolfenden helped Hector get the upper hand on two people who had betrayed him over the Kiki affair.
Admittedly, his drunken threat to the slimy McCain was clumsy, but showed some nous. Also the dismantling of his friend and old army colleague Stern on live TV was expertly done – all the better as, consummate professional that he is, Hector did it by preparing for the interview with a cigarette and no briefing notes.
Stern is now fully aware that the hacks are on his tail. The increasingly threatening club owner Cilenti is also trying to warn ‘The Hour’ off by leaving an origami swan in Bel’s flat, which to be fair, is certainly nicer (and much more ornamental) than a horse’s head.
So does this mean that Hector’s journalistic fire has returned? The episode ended with a sober Hector donating some money to the Salvation Army. It looks like he may have found some professional salvation of his own.
Other things of note, or things that just bug me:
- Is Commander Stern himself gay? When helping a drunken Hector into his bed I thought he was going to kiss him. Or was it just the Wolfenden storyline playing tricks with the mind?
- Poor old Isaac. He’s still the office dogsbody and now his play has been shot down by the BBC drama department.
- Freddie’s wife Camille is charmingly French with her short hair and big jumpers, but her accent slipped alarmingly in tonight’s episode.
- Always nice to see two taxis in a ‘Follow that Car’ routine. Of course, this being the 1950’s, Freddie said ‘follow that car please’.