The Agents



Carrie Grant


Leigh Morrisson


Initial for CBBC, 5 July to 24 August 2004 (16 episodes)


Time was, when you asked a child what they wanted to be when they grew up, they would say a pop star or a ballerina. But the kids of today are shrewder than that - now they just want to discover a pop star or dancer, sign them up, and cream off 10% of their gross earnings. Well, at least they still have some sort of ambition, and The Agents may well be the Saturday Superstore Search For A Superstar de nos jours - if that's anything to boast about.

Each competition plays out over two episodes. Two teams of three 11-13-year-old kids from nearby schools both have to discover a certain kind of talent in their respective educational establishments and groom them for stardom (as well as can be achieved in one week). At the end, the rival "talents" go head-to-head in a final talent contest. The tricky part is that the winning agents are not necessarily those whose charges win the final contest. Instead, the winners are chosen by means that are, to put it mildly, not entirely transparent.

Although the series is ostensibly a starring vehicle for Carrie Grant, in reality her lackey Leigh Morrisson does most of the actual work, while Grant's contribution is mainly to wander around an office in bizarre old-woman-dolled-up-for-bingo make-up, supposedly watching events on a widescreen TV (though in truth she is rather obviously just looking at a blank screen, with the images superimposed at a later date). It hardly matters though, as the real meat of the show is more to do with how the teams come to decisions while the host is not (visibly) around. And entertaining stuff it is too, for the most part. There are some rather jarring moments where the teams are obviously only doing things because the producers have told them to (and the odd "nudge" wouldn't even be a problem if only Grant's voiceover would come clean about it) and it's slightly annoying that we are never told exactly *how* much the teams' budget actually is, but for all that, the show is well put together and neatly paced.

It's to the show's credit that each challenge featured a different kind of talent - a singer, a band, a dancer, a stand-up comic - though the much hyped-up London "final" proved to simply be a highlights show, rather than the huge seven-way head-to-head finale that might have been hoped for.

Key moments

One team who had to find a stand-up comic spent nearly two days chasing up Lenny Henry's agent for permission to use one of his jokes - only to discover that the material wasn't even his to give permission for.

And for sheer cheek, it would be hard to beat their opponents, who blew most of their budget on an electric scooter for, let's be honest, no good reason at all, but managed to convince the judges that it was a legitimate expense by shoehorning an Ozzy Osbourne falling-off-a-quad-bike joke into their comedian's act. Now there's a team who'll go far.


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