BBC2 boss on axing The Hour: You need to make decisions to bring in something new

Janice Hadlow has defended cancelling the 1950s newsroom drama, calling it "a great series"


BBC2 controller Janice Hadlow has spoken about the channel’s decision to cancel 1950s newroom drama The Hour, calling it a “great series.”


Speaking at the Edinburgh International Television Festival today, Hadlow said: “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, which starred Ben Whishaw, Romola Garai and Dominic West was axed in February this year after its second series. At the time, fans of the Golden Globe-nominated drama were up in arms about the cancellation and petitioned to bring it back for a third run.

So why was a critically well-received series – nominated for two awards at this year’s Emmys – with such a dedicated following cancelled? Did it come down to viewing figures?

“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.”

Speaking on the day the channel has announced a raft of new commissions, including First World War drama 37 days, Hadlow continued: “You make a decision in the end looking at what the alternatives are if you don’t bring it back… If we don’t bring it back we can do these other things and make a decision in terms of what the landscape of drama will look like in the future.”

“Our drama slate is a very rich one,” added Hadlow, who took over as controller of BBC2 in 2008. “It’s almost impossible to imagine now that when I started running BBC2 we didn’t actually have any drama – it’s come back into the channel… with such conviction and confidence.”