What Piers Morgan's 'Fleet Street' Can Learn From 'The Hour'

Piers Morgan is developing a show about tabloid journalism in 1970s England for Starz.

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Starz announced Wednesday that Piers Morgan will serve as executive producer of an upcoming series called "Fleet Street," based on tabloid journalism in England during the 1970s.

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Morgan said in a press statement that 1970s Fleet Street – once the address of many British national newspapers – was "the breeding ground for modern popular journalism, as foreign media tycoons stomped over the British establishment to re-define 'news,' suddenly exposing the rich, powerful and famous in spectacular front-page scoops."

 

Before hosting CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight," Morgan worked at a number of British tabloids, and in the Starz press release, a show executive bragged about "his unbelievable experiences" working in the U.K. Those personal experiences aside, Morgan and the other showrunners should look to another period drama about journalism. "The Hour," a recently canceled but dearly missed two-season BBC drama, depicted another ground-breaking development in media: the rise of the television news magazine in the mid-1950s. Also set in London, "The Hour" caught critics' attention, and "Fleet Street" could stand to learn from its example:

Use historical distance to your advantage. Let major plot lines concerning well-remembered events unfold in season-long arcs. The first season of "The Hour" centered around its journalists investigating the Suez crisis and the Cold War's changing global relationships. In the depiction of their reporting, "The Hour" brought fresh insight to historical events, with a particularly fantastic twist in its season 1 finale.

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Show reporters being good at their jobs (particularly the women). One of flaws of "The Newsroom" – HBO's own inside-the-studio drama, which takes place in the not-too-distant past – was the frustrating incompetence displayed by its female lead and many other female characters. Bel, the news producer on "The Hour," is no such damsel in distress. She is wickedly smart and commands the respect and admiration of all her colleagues. Watching her and the rest of her team – the dashing and charismatic anchor Hector, the hungry and dogged reporter Freddie, the older and wiser female mentor Lix – uncover the details of a major story is far more entertaining than watching them struggle at their jobs.

Do office romance right. By taking them slow, the romantic relationships on "The Hour" sizzled. Though Bel and Freddie were clearly in love from episode 1, they didn't confess their devotion to one another until the end of season 2 (in a particularly torturous cliff hanger, considering the show's cancellation). Let the relationships build slowly between coworkers and the pay off will be worth it.

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Set the mood. "The Hour" drew comparisons to "Mad Men" with its pencil skirt fashions, retro technology and slinky piano score. When recreating its era, "Fleet Street" must also channel its inner Matt Weiner in creating set and costuming details. Though being set in the 1970s, one can imagine "Fleet Street's" feel will be louder, brighter and shinier than the film-noir mood cast by "The Hour."

 

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