The Persuasionists

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The Peruasionists
Created by Jonathan Thake
Directed by Tristram Shapeero
Starring Iain Lee
Simon Farnaby
Adam Buxton
Jarred Christmas
Daisy Haggard
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of series 1
No. of episodes 6
Executive producer(s) Iain Morris
Damon Beesley
Running time 30 minutes
Production company(s) Bwark Productions
Original channel BBC Two
Original release 13 January – 17 February 2010
External links

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.

Bwark Productions (creators of The Inbetweeners) produced the series, Iain Morris and Damon Beesley were the executive producers and Tristram Shapeero directed. Andrew Collins acted as script editor.


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.[1][2][3] 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'.[4]

Half-way through the series, the show was moved to a "graveyard" slot at 11.20pm, due to poor ratings and an online backlash.[5] It was not renewed for a second series.

The Scum Also Rises[edit]

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.[6]


External links[edit]