The bar for any adaptation of Call My Agent! (Dix pour cent) is excessive. Producers who’ve taken it on in nations together with India, South Korea, Poland and Turkey would testify to the truth that the beloved French sequence (out there on Netflix) has followers effectively past its borders. And, since he launched into his personal adaptation, it’s one thing English writer-director-producer John Morton is aware of solely too effectively.
“One of the tropes for me for the last few years,” he explains through Zoom, “is running into someone I haven’t seen for a while, and they say, ‘What are you working on?’ I tell them, and they go, ‘Oh my God. I love that show.’ And I think, ‘Yeah, I know it’s great and shut up.’”
His most important concern in taking over a London-based manufacturing, he admits, was merely “not to mess it up”. His model is known as Ten Percent (a literal translation of the unique French title), referring to an agent’s take of a shopper’s price, and, like the unique, it’s set in a talent-management company dealing with actors, writers and administrators.
The most important pleasure of Call My Agent! is that it’s a glowing comedy in regards to the machinations of the leisure business that accomplishes the admirable juggle of being concurrently figuring out and warm-hearted. It gives us with a peek into the behind-the-scenes darkish arts: the negotiations, manipulations and deceptions concerned in maintaining productions on the rails and “the talent” glad. Yet, because the perpetually confused brokers and their assistants scheme and jockey for place, they one way or the other stay likeable, the sequence managing to maintain us on their aspect. An further deal with is the looks of actors – together with Cecile de France, Juliette Binoche, Fabrice Luchini and Jean Reno – enjoying spoof variations of themselves.
Set at Nightingale Hart, the English adaptation additionally focuses on perpetually pressured skilled lives and personal entanglements, with the early episodes that includes visitor appearances by Kelly Macdonald, Olivia Williams, Helena Bonham Carter and Dominic West. Yet even because the brokers ricochet from disaster to disaster and the actors fret, the present’s tone stays upbeat.
“There could’ve been a version of this show, and of the French one, that could’ve been very different,” Morton says. “It would be super-cynical about the entertainment industry and its insincerity. It would be about intelligent, ambitious, adversarial people crawling all over each other.
“That would be a classical satire where the pleasure is in watching everybody get their just desserts. But I’ve seen that. I think the French version, and – touch wood! – ours, is more interesting in human terms. The French chose to present a group of people who actually care about what they’re trying to do. They’re not all perfect all the time and there is a spectrum of integrity across the characters, as there is in any world.”
Chuckling at his notion of a “spectrum of integrity”, Morton is seated alongside actor Jack Davenport, who performs Jonathan Nightingale, a variation on Call My Agent!’s Mathias (Thibault de Montalembert) and the son of company founder Richard (Jim Broadbent). And whereas he fortunately acknowledges that the reward will make Morton squirm, Davenport observes, “As a writer, John has a world-view which has a real tenderness about human frailty. He doesn’t judge, he’s incredibly compassionate, but also very funny. And what that produces is much more interesting than the kind of down-the-line satire where they’re cynical, amoral shits clambering over each other. The tone of this show is constantly shifting, and I think that, as an audience member, you’re surprised and hopefully delighted because it shifts from comic to tender to sad. So we’re able to operate with a lot more colours by not going down that hard satirical route.”