BBC The Hour Episode 3

Well, BBC 2’s drama The Hour is certainly hotting up, in more ways than one. Firstly we have the growing relationship, sizzling with sexual tension, between producer Bel Rowley (Romola Garai) and frontman Hector Madden. Bel and reporter Freddie (Ben Whishaw) were invited to a weekend shooting party at the home of  Hector and his wife, Marnie (Oona Chaplin). Other guests at this gathering included actor Adam le Ray (former fiancé of dead debutante Ruth Elms) and creepy Angus McCain (the Prime Minister’s ‘eyes and ears’).

Amateur sleuth Freddie was glad of a chance to question le Ray about his relationship with Ruth. What Freddie found out, when le Ray was drunk, was that they ordered that he marry Ruth, as she was in trouble, and he was told that if he went through with the marriage, no one would know ‘what he was’. All very cryptic. It all seems to come back to the mysterious they. Bel told Freddie that saying that a girl was in trouble was a euphemism for saying that she was pregnant. But was concealing a pregnancy all that was going on between Ruth, Adam and the omnipresent they? We wait with baited breath…

Meanwhile Bel and Hector struggled (and failed) to keep their hands off each other. They resorted to stealing heated kisses in the corridors, as the other house guests played sardines. Marnie Madden later noticed a smear of red lipstick behind Hector’s ear, but didn’t question it. I find her an interesting character: surely Bel is not the first woman that Hector has pursued whilst married and he is hardly subtle, and yet his wife acts oblivious. She says that she deliberately placed Bel and Freddie in adjoining rooms ‘just in case’ they were secretly a couple, despite Hector assuring her that nothing was going on between Bel and Freddie. One guess is that Marnie senses the attraction between her husband and Bel and rather than making a big fuss about it and thus breaking the façade of a perfect marriage, she encourages a liaison between Bel and Freddie in the hope that it will cause anything going on between Hector and Bel to disintegrate.  Fat lot of good her scheming  did, as Bel and Hector wasted no time in ‘sealing the deal’ in Bel’s flat after he drove her home.

I do also wonder if Marnie Madden’s motives in inviting Bel to stay for the weekend in the first place mirrored my suspected motives for why Angus McCain offered Freddie a job working for him – I reckon it was a case of ‘keep your friends close and your enemies closer’ and both parties wanted to keep an eye on someone they suspected of deviance.

Now for the furtive Thomas Kish… Freddie told his assistant Isaac to keep an eye on Kish and Isaac eagerly went about doing his best (not very good) attempt at Hercule Poirot. Freddie’s flat was later ransacked, leaving Mr Lyon Snr. sobbing in shock and Freddie’s top suspect was Kish, although the expressionless Kish denied it. Freddie spent a large part of the episode puzzling over his notebook containing the supposed clues he found in the crosswords. A phrase which stood out to him was ‘Revert to Brightstone’. As fate would have it, Kish and Freddie end up in the office alone together and Freddie, blunt as always, tries to question him. Kish tell him that he know too much and chases Freddie through the office, intent on murder. However, in an interesting twist, Kish tell Freddie that he should be looking for someone called Brightstone, rather than something, before falling over the stairway banister to his death.

It seems therefore that my suspicion that Kish was a spy and assassin on someone else’s behalf rather than a murderer with a personal motive, was true. Suddenly Kish is a human being, a man with a wife and children, not just a cold-blooded killer with a blank, mask-like face. Shame he had to die before we discovered this.

I thoroughly enjoyed this episode – this series is going from strength to strength for me. The blossoming camaraderie between Hector and Freddie is particularly endearing and the costumes are still gorgeous! I especially loved the silk dress Bel wore on the evening of the game of sardines.

Of course the big question, which I’m sure Freddie will not hesitate to investigate, is who on earth is Brightstone?

(Photo credits © BBC/ Laurence Cendrowicz)

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