BBC ‘The Hour’, series 2 episode 2

Sorry that this review has been a while coming.

Anyway, episode 2 of The Hour begins with Hector being arrested for supposedly assaulting Kiki Delaine. Hector swears he’s innocent, but Marnie says she’s not sure she believes him. Luckily for Hector, he is soon released. Marnie, however, does not welcome him back with open arms. Instead, she tells him that she intends for them to go their separate ways from now on, with regards to their private lives, whilst maintaining a public facade of marital harmony. Marnie is finally asserting her independence. She even auditions, successfully, for a cookery television show. I’m glad that Marnie has decided to live her own life, and not let Hector walk all over her anymore. I look forward to seeing how Hector reacts to the news of his wife’s new career.

(Dominic West as Hector Madden.)

Elsewhere, Freddie’s new wife, Camille, is upset when a yobbish teenage boy throws soot in her face for associating with a black man (Sey Ola, Cissy’s boyfriend).  Freddie tries to comfort her, but she says that she hates Britain and wants to go back to France. Later, she and Freddie get into a blazing row, and Camille accuses him of loving ‘The Hour’ more than he love her. Although Freddie insists to Bel that all is well in Paradise, I can’t help thinking that an irrevocable wedge is being driven between husband and wife. Will they weather the storm? It probably doesn’t help that Freddie’s solution to the soot-throwing issue is to invite both the boy, Trevor (who harbours some rather fascist opinions), and Sey Ola onto the set of ‘The Hour’ to discuss their views on immigration and race. Randall is scandalised. What! A fascist appearing on a BBC programme? AND, in front of members of the board? Surely not! However Freddie, being Freddie, manages to pull it off. When Bel and Freddie are discussing Freddie’s marriage later on, Bel says to him, “I wish you had consulted me before doing such a stu-…such a stu-…wonderful thing.” Freddie just looks at her hard and says, “And what would you have done?” He then walks away. Has Bel really missed her chance? Will she a pursue, instead, a relationship with Bill Kendall (who she discovers, via Lix, is a widower)?

Freddie and Bel work together in an attempt to find out the truth about Kiki. Who hit her? How did she end up posing for nude photographs? The first question is answered when we discover that she has a lover who is high up in the police force (if someone could please clarify for me who exactly the man is, his name at least, then that would be great!) It seems that this man does not like sharing Kiki with other men, and is less than pleased to learn of the existence of the nude photos. I predict more trouble for Kiki very soon. I only hope that Bel and Freddie can solve the mysteries surrounding her and her past before she gets hurt again. Or worse.

A final note on Hector: I can’t help feeling sorry for him. Sure, he can be an arrogant whatsit who expects everything in life to fall perfectly into place for him. Sure, he’s been a rubbish husband to Marnie. Still, it was sad watching him witness his life crumbling before his eyes. Freddie’s taking his job, Marnie has all but left him, he’s an alcoholic… I hope that his friends can rally together to help him get back on his feet, or I fear there’ll be a sad ending for Hector.

Another very enjoyable episode. Whishaw, Garai and West (as well as the rest of the cast) continue to impress, and I look forward to seeing how the various plotlines develop further.

(All photos ©BBC 2012.)

BBC ‘The Hour’ series 2, episode 1

(Dominic West as Hector Madden, Romola Garai as Bel Rowley and Ben Whishaw as Freddie Lyon.)

The Hour is back! We’re in 1957, so what’s changed?

Frazzled producer Bel Rowley (Romola Garai) is trying to keep ‘The Hour’ afloat in Freddie Lyon’s (Ben Whishaw) absence. There is a new Head of News, Randall Brown (Peter Capaldi) who so happens to be an old flame of Lix’s. That could be awkward.

(Peter Capaldi as Randall Brown.)

Hector Madden (Dominic West) is enjoying the perks of being a celebrity. You know what they say: “The brightest stars burn out the fastest.” Hector whiles many an hour away in El Paradis Club in Soho. There, he meets a young cabaret girl and prostitute, Kiki Delaine (Hannah Tointon). The poor girl end up badly beaten, and it seems from the trailer for the next episode, that Hector will be blamed. There are two poignant scenes featuring Kiki: 1) Kiki sits crying on her bath tub in a dank bathroom, tentatively inspecting her cuts and bruises. 2) Having covered up the worst of her injuries with makeup and a strategically placed hairstyle, Kiki performs on the club stage, watched by an audience of men, one of whom is her assaulter. There are three suspects: Hector (unlikely IMO), Kiki’s manager (looks shifty) and also an executive from ITV who shows an interest in Bel, despite being married. (What is it with Bel and married men?!)

(Hannah Tointon as Kiki Delaine.)

Not everyone is a fan of Hector’s new lifestyle, in particular Bel, Randall and Marnie (Oona Chaplin). Hector continually shows up on set seconds before the show goes on air, with such a blasé attitude that Randall eventually gives him an ultimatum: either he clears up his act or he clears out. Hector seems to be keeping his options open, as he is (figuratively) seduced by executives from ITV’s new rival news show, ‘Uncovered’. Will Hector abandon ‘The Hour’? Meanwhile, his poor wife, Marnie, is left at home, trying to be a model housewife which proves difficult as her husband is noticeably absent most of the time.

(Oona Chaplin as Marnie Madden and Dominic West as Hector Madden.)

In true irreverent, Freddie-style, Freddie Lyon makes a breezy reappearance in the middle of a staff meeting. Apparently he’s been travelling the world and has come back with 1) a dubious beard 2) a French wife. Bel is less than pleased about both, and is exceedingly shocked upon discovering the latter. I predict that Freddie’s new wife, Camille, will either be murdered before the series is out, or bog off back to her native country, leaving Freddie (temporarily) heartbroken. It’s pretty obvious that he still harbours feelings for Bel, but how does she feel about him? Is the revelation that Freddie is now married enough for her to realise that she loves him or is she just shocked that her best friend got hitched without telling her? A bit of both, I think. There is a fair bit of sexual tension between Bel and Freddie. I just wonder if this will ever be realised. Freddie seems calmer and more self-assured this time around, and I also love that he still calls Bel “Moneypenny”. Cute!

(Ben Whishaw as Freddie Lyon and Romola Garai as Bel Rowley.)

Randall is thrilled that Freddie is back on the scene, and immediately crowns him as co-host with Hector. Freddie is pleased, Hector is not. Freddie is eager to address real issues in Britain, such as the crime rate in Soho. I sense another conspiracy coming to light very soon… …

All in all, a great episode and a fantastic start to the new series. I can’t wait for Wednesday evening now!

(All photos ©BBC 2012.)

BBC ‘The Paradise’ episode 8

Okey dokey folkies, I apologise for the delay in getting this review up – I just didn’t have time to write it last night.

I decided to have a quick flick through Tumblr to see what people thought of The Paradise’s final episode. This is the main reaction I found: “OMG! My feels! asdfghjkljhgfdsa I. Can’t. Even.” So what exactly happened to create such a response? Well…

(Elaine Cassidy as Katherine and Joanna Vanderham as Denise.)

So, this week sees the Big Showdown between Denise and Katherine. Who does Moray choose?! Dun dun DUN! Katherine and Lord Glendenning ensure that the choice isn’t easy. When Moray and Denise are planning their Happily Ever After only 20 minutes into the episode, you know it’s not going to be plain sailing. Lord G. puts a spanner in the works when he tells Moray that he now owns the whole street, including The Paradise itself. Moray is greatly dismayed at this revelation, but Lord G. says that it hardly matters whose name the paperwork is in seeing as Moray will “soon be family”. The implication is that if Moray doesn’t marry Katherine, then Lord G. will destroy The Paradise. Ah… Katherine has finally realised where Moray’s affection lies and decides to confront Denise. Katherine says that if Denise marries Moray, then she, as the daughter of the man who now legally owns The Paradise, will ensure that Moray is ruined and that Mr Lovett is swiftly evicted from his property. Ouch. This leaves both Moray and Denise with an agonising decision to make. Will they risk everything for love? The writers keep us guessing until the last few minutes. We see young Arthur standing proudly outside The Paradise in his groomsman outfit, we see Katherine dressed in a bridal gown, walking downstairs, bouquet in hand, on the arm of her father… THEN, we see Moray suddenly run desperately through the shop, only stopping when he spies Denise in the courtyard. He walks up to her and kisses her. Just like that. They both smile. The end. :)

(Joanna Vanderham as Denise and Emun Elliott as Moray.)

Obviously, this ending leaves a rather large cliffhanger. Has Katherine just been abandoned at the altar? How will she and her father get revenge? Will Moray lose The Paradise? Of course, now we’ll have to wait until the next series for the answers. I was pleasantly surprised that Moray chose Denise over his beloved shop. I thought for an awful moment that he would marry Katherine in order to save The Paradise and then have to spend the majority of series 2 grovelling to Denise for her forgiveness. That he was able to put his love for a woman before his love for his business shows how much his character has grown and matured throughout the series. The Moray of episode 1 would never have done that.

Elsewhere in the episode, we have the Bradley Burroughs mystery coming to a head when his body is found in a river. This leads to Jonas being dismissed by Dudley. Did anyone else think that Jonas was going to throw himself off that bridge near the end? I’m glad he didn’t. I can’t help feeling sorry for him.

Also, Edmund Lovett and Miss Audrey are finally reunited! In a very sweet scene, Miss Audrey confesses that she is afraid of love. I think, judging by her kiss with Edmund, she may be able to overcome this fear at long last!

(Sarah Lancashire as Miss Audrey.)

So, what do I think will happen in the next series?

- Denise and Moray will have to face the world & the Glendennings and try to save The Paradise. I predict angsty struggles ahead.

- Crazy Katherine will plot her revenge. Mwahahahaha!

- Pauline will dither over whether she wants Sam or not and make more hapless attempts to win his attention.

Can’t wait!

Overall, I have really enjoyed watching The Paradise. Yes, it is very fluffy. Yes, Emun Elliott needs to learn that a seductive tone of voice doesn’t necessarily mean whispering. But, for light, uncomplicated viewing, with pretty costumes to drool over, it does the trick. I look forward to series 2.

I have just started to read the book on which The Paradise is (very loosely) based: Au Bonheur des Dames or The Ladies Paradise by Emile Zola. I plan to review it when I’ve finished it. I’m interested to see how far the book and TV series are comparable. So far (roughly 100 pages in), they are rather different already…

(All photos ©BBC 2012.)

BBC ‘The Paradise’ episode 7

This week’s episode of The Paradise is centred around the increasingly annoying Katherine Glendenning (Elaine Cassidy). She prepares for her impending nuptials by buying practically everything in The Paradise, which, unsurprisingly, creates a buzz in the shop. She then picks out a dark blue fabric, aptly named ‘Midnight Ink’, and loudly declares that she will use the cloth for her wedding dress as sign of respect/mourning for the first Mrs. Moray. Who ever heard of a navy blue wedding dress?! Not Katherine, apparently, as she later to confides to Miss Audrey that it is just a rouse, and that she’s actually having a white gown made up elsewhere. Miss Audrey is less than pleased. When Katherine comes into the shop to be fitted for her dress, spiteful Clara wastes no time in dropping hints to Miss Glendenning about how “fond” Moray is of the female staff, and how he takes the time to really get to know them “individually”. Katherine refuses to take the bait, but have the seeds of doubt been sown?

(Joanna Vanderham as Denise, in her new turquoise frock.)

And where does Denise fit into this? Well, as usual, she is full of Big Ideas, and she even has a new turquoise frock to show that she means business. She manages to convince other local shop owners (including a Mr Chisholm, playing by David Bamber) to join her in her latest venture: selling ensembles – a customer can buy a complete outfit with different components coming from the small shops on the street. It’s a good idea, for a while… When Denise finds out that ‘Midnight Ink’ is causing such a big stir at The Paradise she decides to buy up the remaining stock from the supplier and sell it outside her uncle’s shop, to entice the local ladies who are desperate to imitate Katherine Glendenning. Sneaky! Katherine is furious when she finds out, and can’t understand why Moray doesn’t force Denise to stop selling the fabric. As if!

(Emun Elliott as Moray and Joanna Vanderham as Denise.)

Moray and Denise share several nice moments this week. At one point, they go for a private country walk, and Moray finally explains the circumstances of his wife’s death. At last! It seems that Mrs Moray loved her husband deeply, but he was too far enamoured with The Paradise to reciprocate her feelings properly. Mrs Moray was heartbroken, and after an argument with Moray in the store, she ran from him and fell to her death. Except Moray isn’t sure that she did fall. He is racked with guilt, believing that he may have caused her to take her own life in despair. Regarding the Moray-Katherine-Denise love triangle, I think Moray is trying to love Katherine, but can’t. But, he doesn’t want to hurt her, so hasn’t the nerve to break off their engagement. I think Moray, seeing how Katherine is (to use her father’s word for it) obsessed with him, is terrified that if he lets Katherine see that he can’t love her as she loves him, the outcome will be as tragic as it was for his wife. However, Moray is aware of his feelings for Denise and is now equally aware of hers for him. Also, I think Katherine senses that Moray doesn’t quite return her feelings so is desperately trying rectify the situation by smothering him with affection. The best way forward, in my opinion, would be for Moray to break things off as gently as he can with Katherine (praying that she doesn’t respond by doing something drastic) and then begin courting Denise properly. Denise is much better suited to him: their interests and temperaments match and she understands him far better than Katherine does.

(Denise and Moray.)

Next week will be the final episode of the series.

Will the mystery surrounding Jonas and Bradley Burroughs be resolved?

Will Moray take the cowardly route and go through with his wedding to Katherine, or will he honour his feeling for Denise and do the right thing?

I can’t wait for next week’s episode!

P.S: Good news – The Hour series is back on November 14th!

All photos ©BBC 2012.

BBC ‘The Paradise’ episode 6

The theme of this week’s episode of The Paradise is LOVE. First, we have Pauline wanting to run the new lovebird counter in the shop and secondly we have the latest development in the Denise-Moray-Katherine love triangle.

Pauline’s plotline is minor, so I’ll just mention it briefly. Moray orders a shipment of lovebirds for the shop and allows eager Pauline to run the new bird counter. She and Dudley get quite fond of them, and Pauline even names a pair of them Bertie and Sally. So, poor Pauline is distraught when she accidentally lets Sally escape from the shop. Thankfully, Sam is on hand to help her get the bird back.

(Ruby Bentall as Pauline.)

There is also more drama regarding Jonas. It seems to be common knowledge that Jonas played a major part in Bradley Burroughs’ disappearance. Young Arthur is scared stiff of him, and Jonas tries to buy his confidence with a new pair of boots. Edmund Lovett publically vocalises his opinion on Jonas’ antics and when Jonas pays his shop a visit early in the morning, Lovett punches Jonas in the face – a move he instantly regrets.

Alrighty, let’s move on to the meatiest part of this week’s episode – the love triangle. Plenty of angst all round. Early in the episode, Miss Audrey notices Denise looking down in the dumps and decides to have a little heart to heart with her. She quickly guesses that the cause of Denise’s low spirits is love. She also correctly guesses that the man in question is Moray. Miss Audrey is surprisingly sympathetic – probably remembering how she struggled to make the choice between love and her career years ago. She tells Denise that, as long as her relationship with Moray remains completely professional, then Moray’s favour will ensure great advancement in her career. But, according to Miss A (oh fount of all knowledge), one kiss will destroy Denise’s ambition and she’ll send up as “a Clara”. Ouch. Miss A’s solution? Complete self-denial. Easier said than done.

(Sarah Lancashire as Miss Audrey and Sonya Cassidy as Clara.)

So what does Denise do? The total opposite. She tells Moray (or John as he orders her to call him. It sounds weird, as if he shouldn’t have a Christian name at all, and was just born Moray. I digress…) that she loves him. and then she kisses him. And he kisses her back, quite enthusiastically, before they are interrupted by a knock on the door. But, due to some encouragement on the part of Lord Glendenning, Moray and Katherine then announce their engagement. Katherine is thrilled. Denise, not so much. Poor Denise then quits her job at The Paradise and moves in with her uncle. Within a few seconds of stepping over the threshold, she is already forming Big Ideas (as only she can!) which will rival The Paradise. I look forward to seeing how Denise makes her uncle’s shop compete with The Paradise. If that’s not a finger up at Moray then I don’t know what is!

(Emun Elliott as Moray and Joanna Vanderham as Denise.)

(Matthew McNulty as Dudley, Elaine Cassidy as Katherine and Emun Elliott as Moray.)

Apparently, The Paradise has just been renewed for a second season, which makes me wonder how much will be resolved at the end of this one. We shall see…. Until next time folks!

(All photos ©BBC 2012.)

BBC ‘The Paradise’ episode 5

Okey dokey folks, another episode of The Paradise to review. So, there are two main plotlines running through this week’s episode.

1) Katherine (Elaine Cassidy) trying to win back Moray (Emun Elliott).

2) Moray’s expansion plan going awry when crass barber, Bradley Burrough (Dr. Who’s Arthur Darvill) creates havoc.

First things first, let’s talk about Katherine. She decides that the best way to get Moray’s attention is to ignore him and make a bit show of spending money in all the nearby shops except The Paradise. She even goes into Edmund Lovett’s shop to commission a dress. And does this get Moray’s attention? Of course it does.

(Elaine Cassidy as Katherine.)

Elsewhere, Moray’s plan to expand his business into the next-door barber shop backfires when the barber, Bradley Burrough,  insists on being made a partner in The Paradise. Moray tries to laugh off the suggestion, but accepts seeing as Burrough refuses to sell his property on any other terms. On the advice of Jonas (David Hayman), Moray and Dudley put a clause in the contract which states that Burrough will be dismissed as soon as he steps out of line. Burrough makes himself at home/a general nuisance in The Paradise. He makes several attempts to ‘woo’ Pauline (Ruby Bentall) who shoots him down each time: “You’re a barber, in a suit that doesn’t fit.” He manages to catch her alone at the top of the staff stairs, and makes a move on her. Young Arthur tries to intervene, but Burrough pushes him down the stairs, injuring Arthur’s wrist. Everyone is desperate for Burrough to be dismissed asap, but Burrough hints to Jonas that he knows “something” about the former Mrs Moray’s death. Ah! The sweet scent of blackmail! So how does Jonas deal with him? Well, I’m not entirely sure, but it definitely makes Jonas look shifty – does he dispose of Burrough? He tells Moray that Burrough will “no longer be a problem”. Hmmm…

(Arthur Darvill as Bradley Burrough.)

This week sees, for the first time ever, one of Denise’s Big Ideas backfire big stylee (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_CwfCBa6PSM Go to 0:16 – sorry, have A&M on the brain whilst writing this…) Maybe she’s losing her touch? Or not, seeing as she has her next Big Idea within about 15 minutes. And her second Idea is a hit, (back to normal then!) much to Clara’s dismay. Yes, Clara is on the warpath this week – she’s convinced that Denise is in love with Moray (there’s some truth in that assumption) and thus spends most of the episode sneaking around trying to find a secret that will blacken Denise’s name. Thus far she has not succeeded. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before she finds Moray and FMOHB in a compromising position together, and voila! There is a scene near the end of the episode where Moray comes into the empty ladieswear looking for Denise. He doesn’t find her, but I can’t help wondering what would have happened if she had been there? Their first kiss perhaps? That would have been the perfect time for Clara to walk in on them, and all hell would have broken loose. So, what happens instead? Moray leaves ladieswear and at the end of the episode kisses Katherine. Each to their own, I suppose.

(Emun Elliott as Moray.)

So what’s going to happen next week?

- It looks as if people will be suspecting Jonas of murder.

- Hopefully, we find out what happened to Burrough.

- I expect Moray will have to have a Long Hard Think about whether he wants Katherine or Denise.

- Denise will have a Big Idea. Obviously.

Let’s see shall we?! Until next time, folks…

All photos ©BBC 2012.

BBC ‘The Paradise’ episode 4

This week’s episode of The Paradise is majorly angsty for Moray, Clara, Katherine and Miss Audrey, and there is minor angst for pretty much everyone else.

(Sarah Lancashire as Miss Audrey.)

First, we have Miss Audrey (Sarah Lancashire), who collapses in Ladieswear with a sudden and mysterious illness. Despite her protestations, Moray (Emun Elliott) orders her to stay in bed for a week and appoints Denise (Joanna Vanderham)  as deputy. Clara (Sonya Cassidy) is peeved, and it looks as if her and Denise’s new-found friendship may be in jeopardy. Clara resents the fact that Denise, the ‘new girl’, is in charge and clearly has Moray’s favour. Moray publically calls Denise his ‘little champion’, which irritates both Clara and Miss Audrey. Clara tells Denise bitterly that although she may be Moray’s favourite, she can ‘never have him’ as she’s ‘just a shop girl’. We shall see, Clara, we shall see… Clara tries to improve her standing with Moray by practically throwing herself at him in his office. She tells him that although he could never love her as he did his wife, she could give him ‘a little comfort for one night’. The two start to kiss, but are interrupted by a knock on the door, which brings Moray to his senses and he tells Clara to leave. I’m sure that this rejection will do nothing to improve Clara’s generally foul temper. One thing I find interesting is that Clara tells Moray that they ‘share a bond’ seeing as they’ve both lost someone they love – Clara had to give up her child and Moray’s wife died. So, Moray clearly already knew about Grace, but does he know who the father is? Why was Clara not dismissed when she got pregnant?

(Joanna Vanderham as Denise and Sonya Cassidy as Clara.)

The general consensus among the staff is that Moray’s brooding mood this week is down to a) grief (again) over his wife’s death and b) the fact that Katherine Glendenning (Elaine Cassidy) is being courted by Peter Adler (Mark Bonnar). Who knows what Moray is really thinking? He seems less than happy when he bumps into Katherine at the beginning of the episode but is he really jealous of her new relationship with Peter? He never appeared to be that keen on Katherine before, so I can’t understand why he seems so upset that she has apparently moved on. Perhaps he feels some guilt over his wife’s death? Perhaps he was involved somehow in her demise? In the first episode of The Paradise, Clara hinted that there is more to the story of Mrs Moray’s death than meets the eye. Maybe there’ll be a dramatic revelation later in the series – my bet is on the penultimate or last episode.

(Emun Elliot as Moray and Elaine Cassidy as Katherine.)

As for Katherine, she is not as enamoured with Peter Adler as she would have Moray believe. Peter recognises that Katherine is ‘trying very hard’ to like him, but is really just going through the motions of courtship. Still, he believes that, with time, Katherine will come to love him. Lord Glendenning (Patrick Malahide) is not so sure – he (correctly) believes that Katherine is still in love with Moray, and at the end of the episode, Katherine confesses it to be true. She breaks off her understanding with a heartbroken Peter, and hopes that she and Moray will soon be reunited. I am sorry that Katherine broke up with Peter – I think her infatuation with Moray is foolish, and Peter is a good man. Oh well.

And now to Denise. She is initially apprehensive at taking charge of Ladieswear, but takes the challenge in her strides. She manages to impress an eminent customer, despite Clara’s attempts at making trouble. Of course there are a number of scenes with Denise and Moray together. They have one of their usual nighttime chats by the shop stairs, which is a perfect opportunity for Moray to whisper to Denise. Yet again.

(Denise and Moray.)

In the end, it is Denise’s uncle, Edmund Lovett who figures out the cause of Miss Audrey’s malady: she is distressed at the thought of getting older, and of losing favour with Moray to Denise. This leads to three sweet scenes:

1) Edmund Lovett visits Miss Audrey at her sickbed, and brings her a box of Turkish Delights, which apparently he used to do when they were young.

2) Moray also visits Miss Audrey and tells her that she is a valuable asset to the shop and the Ladieswear department would fall apart without her authority. That cheers Miss A. up considerably and she is out of bed to reclaim her place like a shot.

3) Denise tells Moray that it is Miss Audrey’s birthday soon, and so the staff organise a surprise party for her on the shop floor. Miss Audrey is delighted at the attention, and even more so when Moray asks her to dance with her. (He may have spent the dance gazing longingly at Denise, oh FMOHB (see last week’s review for definition), but I suppose it’s the though that counts, and I don’t think Miss Audrey noticed.

(Moray – guess who he’s looking at?!)

Filled with renewed vigour, Miss Audrey confronts Denise and once again tells her that she is not to tell Moray any more of her Big Ideas. Nor is she to seek his attention in any way. From now on, all of Denise’s inevitable Big Ideas will reach Moray’s ears by Miss Audrey. We’ll see how long that lasts… …

Another enjoyable episode. Romantic entanglements have got a lot stickier and I look forward to seeing how they develop over the course of the next 4 weeks. Until next time. Au revoir.

(All photos ©BBC 2012.)

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