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The Sentimental Agent (ITC, 1963).

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  • The Sentimental Agent (ITC, 1963).

    I’ve just been watching the 1963 ITC 13 episode film series THE SENTIMENTAL AGENT, starring Carlos Thompson as Carlos Varella. Now the odd thing is that Thompson stars in the first nine episodes and then disappears and the starring role is taken over for the last four episodes by John Turner as Bill Randall, a friend of Varella’s secretary. It’s almost as though Thompson walked out on the series during production and the series was completed without him. I know it’s nearly 55 years ago now, but does anyone know what happened and why Thompson disappeared from the series?

  • #2
    ITC having had great success with 'Danger Man' and what with the Cold War,James Bond etc obviously thought that the golden goose had more eggs to lay, so they piloted two shows with two separate production teams who had come from B picture cinema (TV liked using B picture technicians because they worked fast with no ladidah) .One show was called 'Man of the World' and the other was 'The Saint'. 'Man of the World' had high expectations of being a long runner, so had a bigger budget and even included a trial colour episode, while 'The Saint' was more low key and expected to do about a season or until the books ran out.

    As we know history proved otherwise, that despite it's lower budget, viewers fell for the charm of Roger Moore and liked the slickly produced episodes. Viewers on the other hand thought that 'Man of the World' was a bit flat and dull.The producers blamed their leading man who they said was leaden and could do better next time, they latched onto Carlos who had appeared in an ep of MOTW and had come across as a popular lively character and so 'The Sentimental Agent' was born.

    ITC viewing the pre-transmissions were still not that happy with the way that series was flowing- once again the producers blamed the leading man because 'his command of English was not clear enough'. Carlos was rightly insulted as he could speak about 3 languages and presumably walked out? (Obviously you can make your own mind up about this if you have just seen it).However the series still failed with yet another leading man.

    ..Something like that anyway-truth or myth?- the fact is that particular production team didn't work for ITC again.

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    • #3
      Thanks, Bert. I have the Network DVD sets of both Man of the World and The Sentimental Agent, both of which had excellent theme music whatever their shortcomings. I must say that I had no problem with understanding Carlos Thompson. Whoever at ITC thought his command of English wasn't good enough must have had cloth ears.

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      • #4
        The history of 'The Sentimental Agent' is very interesting as it is the result of a chain of productions that started with the 'Rendezvous' series in the US.

        Roughly the chain is - 'Rendezvous' (US episodes) - 'Rendezvous' (UK episodes) - Sirocco - Man of the World - The Sentimental Agent

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        • #5
          Thanks, Anthony. I didn't know about that.

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          • #6
            Leslie Harris, the executive in charge of CBS Flms started off overseeing Rendezvous - he went over to Europe to work on Rendezvous and a couple of other project for CBS just as CBS films was shut down. He was trying to get the series 'The Man From Antibes' up and running at the time. He joined ITC and the rest is history.

            Leslie Harris retuned to the US in 1964 after five years at ITC.

            Carlos Thompson had to drop out of the last episodes because he was ill, he ended up having to recover in a Swiss nursing home after which he left acting - contemporary reviews praised his sophisticated, draper image. Anyone who has seen the series will realise that Carlos Thompson's command of the English language is perfect.
            Last edited by Anthony McKay; 27th November 2017, 07:03 PM.

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            • agutterfan
              agutterfan commented
              Editing a comment
              Carlos also appeared in the delightful French film La Vie de Château in 1964 (which I have on DVD), which I believed was his last role. Sadly Carlos replacement in TSA (which I also have on DVD) was John Turner and frankly, I cannot abide him in this series, much prefer Carlos. Not wonder there wasn't a follow up. Like darrenburnfan I'd often wondered why he dropped out too. Now I know. Thank you.

          • #7
            You're a welcome mine of information, Anthony.

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            • #8
              It goes to show that if a show fails the leading man/woman usually takes the hit, but as we know now there are many people and elements involved in making a successful series and the leading man/woman is just the fruiting body. Somebody else could have perhaps better nurtured Carlos into a leading man from his MOTW character and not left him disillusioned and unhappy with acting.

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              • #9
                There was a big shake up at ITC at the time - an increase on taxes on television advertising in the UK threatened to bite deep into the money available for film series. Lew Grade was threatening to pull out of television film series completely. Some sort of deal was done with the TV companies to guarantee a certain degree of preferential funding, but overseas sales were still required to make anything near a profit. This led to a reduction in the number of series being made - but the series that remained were of a higher quality.

                From this period come: the resurrection of the proven 'Danger Man' format; investment in Gerry Anderson's projects, and continuation of 'The Saint.'
                Last edited by Anthony McKay; 28th November 2017, 07:30 PM.

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