The-Hour-Ben-WhishawBBC Two controller Janice Hadlow has explained why the 1950s newsroom drama The Hour was axed by the corporation.

You may have noticed there’s far more original drama on BBC Two than there was just a few years ago and that’s because of a drive by the BBC. Given that the corporation wants more drama in prime-time on BBC Two you’d think The Hour would have been a prime candidate for renewal and yet earlier this year it was revealed the series had been cancelled.

Fans of the drama were not happy and petitions were launched but the series remains dead although there have been whispers of a one-off episode to tie up loose ends.

At the Edinburgh TV Festival Janice Hadlow was questioned on the demise of The Hour. The controller told reporters “It’s quite rare for people to have two series [of a show] on BBC2. It was a great series which I very much enjoyed. Sometimes we have almost an embarrassment of riches and we have so many things we’d like to do and in the end you do have to make difficult decisions about whether you bring back a series for a third series or whether you, at that point, need to make decisions to bring in something new.”

The Hour was nominated for two awards at this years’ Emmy’s and despite a somewhat bumpy start with critics – over a few minor historical mistakes – the drama was received critical acclaim.

So why was it cancelled? Hadlow denies ratings were entirely to blame. “Not all our dramas are commissioned to be ratings winners,” said Hadlow. “Some of them are but some of them you commission because they bring something very distinctive into the channel and [the Hour ending] is exactly a reflection of having to balance that out. We don’t commission all our dramas for the reason that they’re going to do three or four million. In the end you do want a balance between the two things.”

The Hour starred Romola Garai, Dominic West, Anna Chancellor and Ben Whishaw who recently came out as gay. The drama chronicled the early days of television journalism revolving around the fictional BBC news programme The Hour.

The first series dealt with the Suez Canal Crisis at the journalists tricky job of reporting the situation in the midst of government secrecy and Soviet spies.

[Quotes via Radio Times]

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