|Created by||Jonathan Thake|
|Directed by||Tristram Shapeero|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||1|
|No. of episodes||6|
|Executive producer(s)||Iain Morris
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Bwark Productions|
|Original channel||BBC Two|
|Original run||13 January – 17 February 2010|
The Persuasionists is a sitcom broadcast on BBC Two set in the world of advertising starring Iain Lee, Simon Farnaby, Adam Buxton, Jarred Christmas and Daisy Haggard, and featuring Natalie Gumede (amongst others). It was the sitcom writing debut for Jonathan Thake, best known until then for ‘the slag of all snacks’ campaign for Pot Noodle. The Persuasionists premiered on Wednesday 13 January 2010.
The sitcom focuses on the lives of five overpaid and underworked employees at fictional advertising agency HHH&H.
The uncontrollable urge-bag Keaton (Simon Farnaby) peruses the workplace for new conquests – everyone he hasn’t already had. "Billy" (Iain Lee as himself), the intelligent underachiever, indulges in his role as the office menace. Spoilt neurotic Emma (Daisy Haggard) would like to break the glass ceiling, but only if it doesn’t damage her lovely hair. Boss Clive (Jarred Christmas), the most Australian man on the planet, exults in his position as the ridiculous manager. The hopeless, witless and feckless Greg (Adam Buxton) is the eager Account Director desperately aspiring to be as ambitious and amoral as his colleagues.
Over the course of the series viewers witness the five advertising degenerates battle their way through a variety of scenarios, including having to sell a smelly brown ‘cockney cheese’ for disillusioned and aggressive cockney client Jim (Lee Ross). Issues of beauty are tackled in episode two, as Emma becomes the ‘Head of Handsomeness’ and creates the ‘corridor of beauty’, placing the uglier colleagues in the boiler room. Later in the series Keaton, the Head of Global, becomes impotent as he learns that women are “somehow human too”. Keaton and Billy engage on a war of being impractical and battle it out to prove they are not mature and sensible. Emma embraces the new ‘Diet Stuff’ drink a little too enthusiastically and begins protesting against obesity. Billy experiences the frustration of writer’s block and Keaton sets out to steal his colleagues’ happiness.
The first episode received generally negative critical reviews from the press with critics suggesting that while the cast showed promise, they were let down by a poor script, bad direction and poor characterisations. Some held out hope that future episodes might improve; however, even after further airings, critical response remained negative, with heavy editing and excessive use of canned laughter blamed in part for the show 'not working'.
Half-way through the series, the show was moved to a "graveyard" slot at 11.20pm, due to poor ratings and an online backlash. It was not renewed for a second series.
The Scum Also Rises
The project began in 2007 as a pilot for BBC Three called "The Scum Also Rises", which starred Chris Barrie and Kevin Bishop. A second unbroadcast pilot was produced in 2008. The show had been through many changes by the time that the full series aired in 2010, including an almost complete re-cast.
- Times review http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/tv_and_radio/article6976644.ece
- Guardian review http://www.guardian.co.uk/tv-and-radio/2010/jan/13/american-idol-horizon-the-persuasionists
- Independent review http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/features/the-persuasionists--the-hard-sell-as-soft-option-1854586.html
- How these brutal edits are ruining comedy http://www.chortle.co.uk/correspondents/2010/01/15/10343/how_the_bbcs_brutal_edits_are_ruining_comed
- "The Persuasionists moved to 'graveyard' slot". British Comedy Guide. 3 February 2010. Retrieved 3 February 2010.
- Comedy Accessed 2010
- Curtis Brown Literary and Talent Agency http://www.curtisbrown.co.uk/tft/client/user1231/
- Taylor Herring PR http://www.taylorherring.com/blog/index.php/tag/jonathan-thake/