Free Agents - In The Press

NBC has reportedly cancelled the American version of Free Agents.

Written by Morgan Jeffery. Digital Spy, 6th October 2011

It's time to settle an age-old question, to put to rest this crucial issue once and for all: Which is better, the US or the UK? And finally we have the mechanism with which to decide. It is not about politics, it is not about teeth, it is of course about the TV show Free Agents.

Written by Dan Meier. CliqueClack, 23rd September 2011

Hank Azaria, probably best known for his voice work on The Simpsons, has reportedly signed up for a role in NBC's pilot of Free Agents.

Written by Catriona Wightman. Digital Spy, 8th March 2011

NBC orders pilot of comedy from independent producer Big Talk.

Written by Mark Sweney. The Guardian, 7th February 2011

Though it's a comedy, so strong and empathetic are its performances that Free Agents actually feels more like a comedy-drama in the vein of Cold Feet - which is no bad thing. This is a series set in the world of talent agents: a profession which can yield some examples of terrible human vileness (see Anthony Head's agency boss Stephen), but also surprising vulnerability. Green Wing's Stephen Mangan excels as weepy, recently divorced agent Alex. As we join him, he's trying to talk up his one-night stand with co-worker Helen (Sharon Horgan).

The Guardian, 10th August 2009

A reasonably tittersome sitcom that has largely kept its head above water thanks to some good performances from the leads (although Sharon Horgan irritates me intensely and I can't work out why). But the real star of the show has been Anthony Head as slimy agency boss Stephen, who manages to do sleazy better than any other actor on TV. It's no Peep Show - nor is it in the same league as The IT Crowd - but, Free Agents hasn't been dreadful, and a second series would be welcome.

Mark Wright, The Stage, 20th March 2009

Filthier than Ray Mears' armpits after a week swamp snorkelling, the sailor's vocabulary peppered throughout the fractured romance between Stephen Mangan and Sharon Horgan has kept sappiness at bay. There is some affection in here somewhere, but thankfully it's been buried under a barrage of cynicism and damaged personalities, which is such a change from the usual romantic comedy. And there's certainly nothing usual about Anthony Head's wedding in this series closer, where he's all set to marry a high-class hooker...

What's On TV, 20th March 2009

Tonight is the series finale of this modern romantic comedy, in which two attractive people (Sharon Horgan and Stephen Mangan) are failing to have an affair. She drinks a lot of red wine and asks herself repeatedly: "When is anything ever going to start being good again?" For his part, he is trying not to walk out on people whenever the going gets tough. The Daily Express got overexcited about the bad language in the show, asking its readers: "Is this the foulest 'comedy' ever?", ignoring the fact that it was essentially a rather sweet love story between two befuddled people. It is true that the boss of the agency (Anthony Head) wallows in the mire like an ecstatic hippo, but I've been reliably informed that his character is based on a real person.

David Chater, The Times, 20th March 2009

It's sad to see this excellently scripted and naturally played sitcom come to an end tonight but it does, at least, end in style. Helen and Alex's testy, will-they-won't-they relationship reaches an interesting and poignant denouement, and Anthony Head's gleefully horrible Stephen is given a great opportunity to go into lasciviousness overdrive with Stephanie Beacham. More please.

Sharon Lougher, Metro, 20th March 2009

Coming hot on the heels of Plus One, Free Agents is Channel 4's second Friday night homegrown comedy series that is fun to watch. And that has got to be some sort of record. The success of Free Agents is entirely down to the strange love story at its heart. "I need a stable environment in which to get better," says the Stephen Mangan character to the girlfriend who isn't his girlfriend (Sharon Horgan). "And if I stay in your stable environment, then we can get better together."

In tonight's episode, the pair head off to a funeral to try and steal the clients of a dead agent, like a couple of wounded sparrows pretending to be vultures.

David Chater, The Times, 27th February 2009

The always excellent Sharon Horgan stars as the recently bereaved Helen, with Stephen Mangan as her colleague Alex, an acting agent who has just walked out on his young family. We pick up with them after their one-night stand together, and things aren't going too well. With the room to move that a series gives, this didn't try to cram too much in, so the variation in tone that affected the pilot didn't surface. Characters were introduced well and situations nicely set-up. Thankfully it hasn't lost the jet-black comedy that got it commissioned in the first place.

The Custard TV, 18th February 2009

The first thing you notice about Free Agents is the script. Witty, clever, caustic, shocking and seriously scatological, it is very impressive. So impressive, in fact, that for much of Free Agents you don't notice anything else.

Stephen Mangan and Sharon Horgan star as colleagues at an actors' agency who share an ill-judged night of passion and awake having to deal with the professional and personal consequences. Anthony Head co-stars, and steals scenes, as their lascivious, seedy and sex-obsessed boss who offers them his own perverse brand of agony uncle advice.

Mangan and Horgan are both very fine actors, but seem forever at the service of the shows dialogue. It's a bit churlish to complain about an excess of brilliant one-liners, but the initially breathtaking effect does soon wear off, and it becomes something of an effort to keep up with. Hopefully future episodes will give the characters a little more room to develop, and Free Agents will realise its full potential. It is already 50% funnier that most other comedies, so it can afford to relax a little.

Harry Venning, The Stage, 16th February 2009

Free Agents, Channel 4's new Friday-night comedy, began with a bit of awkward post-coital conversation. Alex (played by Stephen Mangan) has just slept with his colleague Helen (played by Sharon Horgan). He doesn't regret it, she does (in a cheerful, maybe-back-for-seconds kind of way). That's the sit. The com comes from Chris Niel's salty, rueful script, which very nicely exploits the best features of its cast, and also creates a genuinely comic monster in the shape of Stephen, the boss of the talent agency where Alex and Helen work. Stephen (Anthony Head, shaking off the memory of those twee coffee ads and crushing its skull beneath his heel) is foul-mouthed, lubricious, misogynistic and amoral. And funny.

Tom Sutcliffe, The Independent, 16th February 2009

The Sunday Express has decided that new Channel 4 comedy Free Agents could be "the foulest sitcom ever". In a news story, the right-wing tabloid states that: "The content of the show is bound to offend viewers." And, before waiting for any figures, decided that: "TV watchdog Ofcom is preparing for a wave of complaints over the shocking language." The show, starring Anthony Head, Sharon Horgan and Stephen Mangan, included the word 'cunt' three times and 'fuck' 22 times in its first episode, which aired at 10pm on Friday.

Chortle.co.uk, 15th February 2009

TV watchdog Ofcom is preparing for a wave of complaints this week over the shocking language used in a Channel 4 sitcom. The c-word featured three times in the new comedy, Free Agents, first aired last Friday. Actor Anthony Head plays the head of a talent agency in the six-part series, written by Chris Niel and described as a caustic romantic comedy. Head, who became famous in the cult show Buffy The Vampire Slayer, said: "Free Agents is a very adult show but it is very ­funny, and I get to say words I've never said on ­television before. It's very ­liberating." In the first few minutes, Head's character Stephen Cauldwell said: "Good morning, my dear c***s." The f-word also featured 22 times in the half-hour episode.

Written by David Stephenson and Neil Hughes. Sunday Express, 15th February 2009

Overall, I'm interested to see where this comedy will go - as the on/off relationship could be difficult to keep momentum with. Hopefully we'll explore Helen and Alex's families (particularly the latter's wife), and the characters at CSM will become more than just bawdy caricatures.

Written by Dan Owen. Dan's Media Digest, 14th February 2009

Well, you've got to hand it to Channel 4. In the current climate, one assumes that the broadcast of every single word stronger than 'fiddlesticks' is hotly debated among producers and head honchos - and yet this opening episode of Free Agents featured the c-word not once, not twice, but three times.

Written by Anna Lowman. TV Scoop, 14th February 2009

New comedy starring Stephen Mangan as a talent agent who's smitten with his colleague. You could never trust an agent to give 100 per cent to a relationship - after all, they'd be looking to skim off between 12 and 20 per cent for themselves. Therefore, a romance between two of them will be less than committed, and showbiz agents Sharon Horgan and Stephen Mangan certainly have a stand-off affair in this new comedy. Mind you, Sharon's mourning and Stephen's divorce don't really help matters...

What's On TV, 13th February 2009

If you get deja vu at the sight of Stephen Mangan sobbing in bed, you either know him very well (in which case, lucky you) or, more likely, you've seen him doing it before, in the pilot that went out in November 2007.

Mangan and Pulling star Sharon Horgan return playing talent agents who though they are technically single come with phenomenal amounts of emotional baggage. He's divorced and desperately missing his kids and her fiance has recently died.

It's not the most promising premise for a sitcom, I'll grant you. What it sounds like is the formula for a not very good Hollywood weepie: In a World Where Love Has Died... Can Two Broken Hearts Become One? etc.

Still, we'll just have to make the best of these raw ingredients and a relationship based on expediency (he has nowhere else to sleep) rather than any great spiritual or physical attraction.

The main problem I had with the pilot was that their kinky foul-mouthed boss (played by Anthony Head, enjoying himself enormously) was given so much rope they might as well have shoved a satsuma in his mouth while they were at it.

He's been reined in slightly in the re-write, but it's the watchableness of the two leads that rises above any weaknesses in the script and makes this worth a second date, with Sharon Horgan's cool cynicism nicely balancing Stephen Mangan's weepy wetness. They make a great couple - on screen anyway.

Jane Simon, The Mirror, 13th February 2009

Channel 4's caustic new comedy series follows the tumultuous work and love lives of three showbiz agents. The Independent meets the show's cast-iron talent.

Written by Gerard Gilbert. The Independent, 13th February 2009

Rude, but very funny in parts, this new comedy centres around Alex (Stephen Mangan) whose marriage has broken down. He's fallen into a relationship with co-worker Helen, played by Sharon Horgan, who still can't get over her dead ex. And their sex-crazed boss - Anthony Head - is a complete nightmare.

The Sun, 13th February 2009

Free Agents is a new romantic comedyseries, wallowing in obscenity, about a dysfunctional couple failing to have an affair. Personally I enjoyed it a lot, although I probably wouldn't recommend it to my 84-year-old mother. The couple concerned are a divorced father-of-two (Stephen Mangan) and a work colleague (Sharon Horgan) whose fiance dropped dead at the age of 34.

The Mangan character is broke, homeless and about as sexually sophisticated as a 15-year-old born-again Christian, while his nongirlfriend is suffering from posttraumatic death disorder. They work together in an actors agency run by a cynical old goat (Anthony Head), out of whose mouth poursa stream of uncensored filth. It works because, deep beneath the brittle layer of self-conscious trendiness, it is an old-fashioned love story with its own perverse brand of charm.

David Chater, The Times, 13th February 2009

Sharon Horgan and Stephen Mangan have apparently justified the use of swearing in their new show Free Agents.

Written by Sarah Rollo. Digital Spy, 13th February 2009

A convincing new sitcom about a pair of ditzy talent agents, Alex (Stephen Mangan) and Helen (Sharon Horgan), who become romantically involved while contending with their bizarre, sexually charged London workplace. At morning meetings, Stephen (Anthony Head), the company boss, expects his agents to stump up lurid stories of their sexual exploits. In reality, Alex and Helen are rather sadder and much more ordinary. Alex has been sleeping in the office ever since his divorce, and Helen is getting over her fiance's recent death. Mutual loneliness leads the two of them into bed. Part farce, part satire, Free Agents has a sweetly understated tone.

Robert Collins, The Telegraph, 13th February 2009

Talent agents Alex and Helen start this new sitcom having sex. But all is not well - Helen is getting over tyhe death of her fiance and scruffbag Alex's pursuit of her becomes more desperate as she pleads that he get over his divorce first. Episode one shows huge promise; Mangan is a likeable foil to Helen's cynical world view, there's some great knoc-em-dead visual gags and Chris Neil's punchy script drives things along with unflinching honesty. Plus, there's the ever marvellous Anthony Head playing the highly sexed agency boss.

Sharon Lougher, Metro, 13th February 2009

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