DVD: The Hour (15)

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The Independent Culture

There's been a fair bit of low-level grumbling and sniping about Abi Morgan's Fifties-set drama, set in a bustling BBC TV newsroom. Touted, wrongly, as a "British Mad Men", The Hour bears much more resemblance to Paul Abbott's gripping political thriller State of Play. And it has been, by a country mile, the most enjoyable TV drama series this year.

This heady, sometimes heavy-handed, hokum centres, mainly, on Ben Whishaw's quick-witted, self-righteous reporter, Freddie, and his grim determination to unearth the truth about the supposed suicide of a childhood friend, Ruth (Vanessa Kirby). Unfortunately, his investigations compromise his producer, boss and champion Bel (Romola Garai), who he just happens to be in love with. The smarmy news anchor and philanderer, Hector, is also rather keen on ambitious Bel.

Set in 1956, the action encompasses the Suez Crisis, sinister government forces, a Tube station slaying, a lot of boozing and smoking, some sex, a country-house shooting party and a host of terrific performances. The slight, always pained looking Whishaw (fast morphing into a young Tom Courtenay) excels as the virtuous Freddie, Julian Rhind-Tutt is a hoot as a slithery spin doctor and Anna Chancellor absolutely steals the show as Lix, a hardened, often blotto foreign correspondent.