The Hour won’t be back for a third season after all. The BBC today pulled the plug on the one-hour drama about a 1950s BBC newsmagazine show. “We loved the show but have to make hard choices to bring new shows through,” the BBC said. Staring Skyfall’s Ben Whishaw, Romola Garai and The Wire’s Dominic West, the six-episode drama debuted in 2011 on BBC Two in the UK and was seen on this side of the pond on BBC America. While The Hour started off with strong viewership in the UK, its audience had fallen by almost half by the second season. The show was nominated for an Emmy and three Golden Globes last year, including Best Miniseries or Made For TV Movie.
Andrew Davies, who wrote the script for The Three Musketeers and a slew of BBC period dramas, is adapting Lindy Woodhead’s nonfiction bestseller Shopping, Seduction & Mr Selfridge for ITV Studios. I’m told that ITV hopes the story of how brash American retailer Harry Gordon Selfridge –”The Showman of Shopping” — opened the world’s first purpose-built department store in London in 1909 will repeat the success of Downton Abbey. That NBC Universal production has been a huge hit over here for ITV. Certainly there’s a plum role for the American actor playing Selfridge, who blew his fortune on mistresses and gambling before dying destitute. Selfridge’s girlfriends included famed dancer Isadora Duncan and Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. His massive overspending ultimately cost him control of Selfridges.
The second series of Downton Abbey, meanwhile, started shooting on location at Highclere stately home in Berkshire in March. Filming continues until July. PBS Masterpiece will premiere the second series on Jan. 8, 2012, following its ITV run starting this fall.
But that’s not the only bonnet-on-bonnet action coming your way on Masterpiece.
The second series of the BBC’s Upstairs Downstairs, a sequel to the original 1970s ITV show that chronicled the lives of the Edwardian Bellamy family, goes into production in September. The BBC originally announced its Upstairs Downstairs remake at the same time ITV unveiled Downton Abbey. “Upstairs Downstairs is elegantly entertaining but doesn’t reach the same heights as Downton Abbey,” sniffed the Daily Telegraph. Still, BBC1 controller Danny Cohen was pleased enough with the average 8.4 million viewers to commission another 6×60-minute series. There is no U.S. transmission date for Series 2 yet.
BBC America has come on board to co-produce the new six-part drama series The Hour, announced in November by BBC Two. The series, which will premiere in the summer on BBC America, was created and written by BAFTA-winning Abi Morgan (White Girl). It is a spy thriller set behind the scenes …