Robert Bathurst is piloting a sitcom about rival ad agencies, which British Comedy Guide can reveal exclusively.
The Cold Feet and Toast Of London star shot a proof-of-concept teaser for Agency last year, starring Rachel Stubbings and Alistair Green, with the taster currently on sale on channels.
Imagined as “The Thick Of It but in advertising”, the pilot is produced by Phil Tidy (BUG by Adam Buxton) for his new company Squire Productions, which has until now specialized in the production of music videos.
Craig Ainsley, who writes and directs with Ben Harris, told BCG that Bathurst’s character, Paul, “represents the old side of advertising that was a little bit more cutthroat and in the burnout culture. He has tends to play nicer characters but he can be a black guy too.”
Stubbings’ character Rachel, who leaves Paul Home’s agency at the end of the teaser, “is the young man who gets by, more of an idealist who wants to do meaningful work, when he just wants make a lot of money. It’s a bit like [The Thick Of It’s] Malcolm Tucker in that he’s pretty tough but really smart. In the treatment, it’s said to be a show about people making their money by persuading you to part with yours.”
In the prospective series, Rachel sets up a small rival agency, Chaffinch, “and they fight over the biggest deal, which is a supermarket, and Paul’s agency gains ground by claiming they can get Steven Spielberg to shoot the launch TV spot,” said Ainsley, creative director of advertising agency Mother. His comedy writing credits include Have I Got News For You, The News Quiz and the BBC Three animated short The 12 Days of Christmas, voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
“Of course they didn’t lock him up, so there’s this ridiculous scramble where they try to convince Spielberg to shoot a supermarket commercial. And that happens throughout the series. Each episode has its own story too. , each of them a ridiculous problem that needs to be taken seriously.
“So, for example, Home has the Calippo advertising account, but a new terrorist cell emerges in the Middle East with the name ‘Calipo’ with a ‘p’. So disassociating itself from that becomes a creative brief for the agency. “
Green’s character, Dougie Fresh, “is a despicable ‘yes-man’. Whoever you are, he’ll agree with you”.
“His schedule is just to get the job done and keep everyone happy,” Ainsley says. “So he’s always caught between someone like Rachel, who has a very clear creative point of view of what something should be, and the client asking for ‘a red that isn’t red’. He has to take that. seriously but he can’t do anything without Rachel’s permission.His job is to be a snake oil salesman for the people he works with and the clients he works for.
Ainsley plans to use real brand names on the show if it gets picked up. And he’s not deterred by the relative lack of success of previous publicity sitcoms, like 2010’s BBC Two series The Persuasionists, which starred Adam Buxton, Daisy Haggard, Simon Farnaby, Iain Lee and Jarred Christmas, or The Creatives from the 2000s from the same channel, created by Absolutely alumni Jack Docherty and Moray Hunter.
“Yeah, I know the guy who made The Persuasionists [Jonathan Thake, creator of Pot Noodle’s ‘slag of all snacks’ campaign] and he’s really funny but it didn’t really land. It was really big and fun, while Agency is really grounded. The situations are really funny without having to amplify them. It’s more about the characters and the success of shows like Call my agent! helps, this sameness of seeing behind the curtain of a particular world.
“I’ve had channel feedback before shows like this are too media centric. But then you see something like Call my agent! and the public doesn’t know what it’s like to be an actor’s agent, so I never understand that comeback. If you can make it accessible somehow, then that’s good.”
You can watch the agency’s teaser here: