This might not be the place for a review of a television drama series, but I shall give you one anyway. My sole justification is that it starred an actress called Romola Garai who made me wish I was 30 years older and consider taking up stalking. I am not and I shan’t, but a boy can dream.
The series was produced by the BBC and was doomed from the outset by comparing itself to America’s Mad Men. The only point the have in common is that both were set several decades ago – Mad Men in the late Fifties, early Sixties and this turkey, called The Hour, in the mid-Fifties. But where Mad Men was stylish, innovative – it took its time always – well directed, subtle, nuanced, well-acted and interesting, The Hour was just another six hours of BBC drama by numbers of which there is more than enough to last us all a lifetime and then some. I always imagine that when a drama is commissioned by the BBC, the script will not be considered for production until it was been put through the BBC editorial sausage machine whose purpose is to get rid of anything which might prove to be original and to add all the latest stylistic fads and trends. One criticism was that too many of the lines were anachronistic, but quite honestly, that was the least of its troubles.
The Hour deals with what we are asked to assume is an innovative BBC current affairs programme (called The Hour), launched just before the Suez Crisis. Also thrown into the mix are two murders by MI6, a traitor, an MI6 baddie who turns out to be a goodie (neat that, they will have thought, that will keep the punters guessing0, a suicide (I think - it wasn’t very clear whether or not it was that or an accident), a Soviet mole in the BBC, a Soviet list of possible agents, and affair between the attractive producer of the innovative current affairs programme and its well-connected presenter, a convoluted MI6 plot to persuade Gamal Nasser’s dentist to assassinate the Egyptian leader, a debutante engaged to a gay actor, a closet gay Downing Street press officer, a Lord and Lady of the Realm (we can be fined here in Britain if we don’t cap up those three words - who said the age of deference is dead) and it is all played out against the Suez crisis. Furthermore, all these rather lurid plot strands involved a total of - if I’ve got my figures right - about 16 characters, many of them minor.
If you think all that amounts to a F minus of a dog’s dinner, you would be charitable. On so many different fronts it failed and failed badly. I shan’t go into detail here (i.e. I really can’t be bothered), but, as usual, the BBC set itself up for a pratfall by trailing it as something like the Second Coming.
But then there’s Romola Garai: swoon. Then, swoon again. At first I thought she was a newcomer and this BBC dog’s dinner was her debut, but it turns out she’s a well-established trouper and even got most of her kit off playing a prostitute in some other piece of BBC drama. I shall do my utmost to track down a DVD if one is available. One more time: swoon.
. . .
I have just been googling for images of la Garai and have found, rather pleasingly, that she has one of those faces which can change rather dramatically. Here is a selection:
I've just realised that she reminds me of Annette, a woman I went out with years ago. Oh well. That's enough swooning, you'll all think I'm twp.
. . .
The eurozone car crash is working out quite nicely. On any reading the Germans are damned if they do and damned if they don’t: if they pull the plug on Greece, their banks are in the shit, and if they don’t the government is on the shit. Already, it seems, leading CDU politicians, with no doubt an eye on the elections in 2013, are burnishing their eurosceptic credentials and drafting a future script along the lines of: ‘I warned about it from the outset, but no one would listen.’
Germany’s Constitutional Court is due to rule on September 7 on whether what has been going on with the bailouts is legal according to German law, and they don’t ever pull their punches. Everyone, especially the Brits, are reverting to type. Given that one mooted solution would be a ‘fiscal union’ with Germany in charge, the sillier newspapers, of which unfortunately the Mail is one, have been claiming - not seriously, of course, but . . . - that this is the ‘rise of the Fourth Reich’ and that Germany is about to achieve economically what it failed to achieve militarily. The French, of course, are playing along, but I don’t doubt they have one or two nasty surprises up their sleeve, and there is outrage from the bailed out states that over the suggestion that it would only be right and proper if the offered their gold reserves as collateral for the bailout dosh.
Which ever way you stack this up, it is not going to end nicely.