The Hour

Abi Morgan's newsroom drama returns to BBC Two

Ben Whishaw plays Freddie Lyons

Category: BBC Two; Drama
An interview with Ben Whishaw who plays Freddie Lyons in BBC Two's The Hour.

Freddie got himself into some trouble at the end of the last series – can you tell us a bit more?

We didn’t see it at the end of the first series, but Freddie lost his job at The Hour… obviously and inevitably. He went off travelling round the world after that, also partly driven by the fact that he lost his father. So when we meet him at the beginning of series two, he’s just returning from travelling around America, but he’s also been in Paris. He comes back a little changed, a little different; maybe grown up in a way, and maybe toughened up a bit too. He’s got a few surprises in store for the team at The Hour!

How is he brought back into the team?

He’s brought back in by the new Head of News, because Clarence is in prison after series one. The new Head of News is called Randall Brown played by Peter Capaldi. Randall and Freddie are sort of kindred spirits and in a way they’re quite similar. They’ve got similar attitudes towards the work that they do and I think there’s a great deal of respect on Randall’s part for Freddie, so he hunts him down in Paris and brings him back to the show to everyone else’s surprise.

How does that affect his relationship with Bel and Hector?

Well, he’s brought back to be co-host for the show so he’s finally getting to do what he wanted to do at the beginning of series one. The team are surprised for all sorts of reasons to see him. I think in a way there is less rivalry between Hector and Freddie this year because they’re on a more equal footing in the show. But in other ways, because Hector gets wrapped up in a scandal which Bel and Freddie then use as a story on The Hour, there’s a different kind of tension between them; about what’s suitable material to use in a news story, whether it’s right to delve into people’s private lives in that way.

Freddie often disappeared off investigating stories and putting himself at risk – is there more of that to come this series?

Initially Freddie’s much more involved in solving the story of the Soho criminal underworld because Bel is so driven to uncover it. It’s only later on in the series when he really hits his stride and then he really delves into the darkest areas and puts himself in a lot of physical danger.

How is life at home for Freddie?

Home life is different because Freddie lost his father, Malcolm. He’s now inherited the flat that his father owned and he’s renting out some rooms, and that brings in to the story the kind of racial politics of the time - people were moving black people into flats and slightly exploiting them really - and in a subtle way the loss of the father is sort of what Freddie’s journey is about this series.

Do you admire Freddie as a character?

Yes I think he’s a hugely inspiring character, certainly to play, because he’s not frightened of saying what he thinks and what he feels, and if anything he’s gotten more committed to doing that. He’s really forthright and not frightened of where honesty will lead him. He’ll suffer the consequences of his words and his actions.

Did you enjoy filming this second series?

Very much so, it was wonderful to return to the characters, to continue to explore their relationships, particularly the relationship between Bel and Freddie, which I think slowly in the second series emerges as the real heart of the story. It’s so lovely to live with a character for all that time and take them on a really long journey, so it was wonderful to return to it and wonderful to return to work with all the actors and some of the crew again, brilliant.