The Sentimental Agent (ATV 1963)

Carlos Thompson, an Argentinean actor, portrayed import-export agent Carlos Varela in the spin-off from Man Of The World titled The Sentimental Agent. Thompson’s Carlos Varela seems to be a romantic gipsy type figure who has wandered the world. Varela’s goal in life is financial security, so he’ll make a bargain on anything, but he’ll always make time to help a friend in need.

Clemence Brittany’s portrayal as Carlos’s secretary Suzy Carter epitomises the ideal helper: attractive, competent, and well-connected in the secret service. Burt Kwok, in the role of Chin, Varela’s valet/cook/chauffeur, offered comic relief as the character, who is also an accomplished magician and occasional illusionist. Regrettably, Chin also has a problem with gambling to an unhealthy degree.

The bulk of the ITV network had The Sentimental Agent air on Saturday night primetime in the hopes of attracting a large audience, however this never happened. Since Thompson’s command of the English language was inadequate, the producers were forced to develop a new character, Bill Randall, played by John Taylor.

Bill’s help in driving the plot along in a few episodes meant less screen time for Thompson. In fact, the Argentine is conspicuously absent from both “Finishing School” and “Not Quite Fully Covered,” with Taylor taking centre stage in both episodes. The show was cancelled after 13 episodes.

Writers on the series included Julian Bond, Patrick Campbell, Tudor Gates, Brian Clemens and Ian Stuart Black.

Guest stars included the likes of Diana Rigg, Bessie Love, Artro Morris, Carol Cleveland, Glynn Edwards, Derren Nesbitt, Patrick Allen, Zena Marshall, Patrick Newell, Dennis Price, Warren Mitchell, Sue Lloyd and Anton Rodgers.

In 1962 Our Man in the Caribbean appeared in selected cinemas, this was cobbled together from several episodes of the series.

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Sentimental Agent Cuttings

Leicester Evening Mail Friday 22 March 1963: A newcomer to the ITV scene in the Autumn will be Carlos Thompson, South American born actor who lives in Switzerland. He will be the star of a new ATV series called The Sentimental Agent. Thirteen hour-long episodes are shortly going into production at Shepperton and for this purpose Carlos is renting a house in Sunningdale for himself and his wife Lilli Palmer. He has just spent a few days in London hiring a housekeeper. (Lill must return to Paris to work after a few weeks). In a series Thompson retains his own first name. He plays a character called Carlos Varella. who is involved in an expert business.

Review from The Stage (Thurs 17 October 1963) of the episode Express Delivery broadcast 12 October: The script of this impossible story contained almost every situation (except violent death) known to the fictional world of espionage and counter-espionage. Carlos Thompson played the part of the smooth handsome agent (not of intelligence) who… heroically helps a double-double blonde spy (Ann Bell) to flee from the police state of Poland. Despite all attempts by the police led by Patrick Magee, to prevent it, she got herself into the same carriage on the express to Vienna as Carlos. Things became confused as she kept on popping out to change (“Sitting one becomes crumpled, no?”) and her place was immediately taken by a dark mademoiselle in glasses from Paris.

After the third or fourth time, it became obvious that the two girls were one, particularly as only one actress was included in the cast. Ann Bell escaped all right, and in a hotel room in Vienna, the dark wig was removed, and she, with at least two other characters on the train, turned out to be on “our side”. All spoke English with a quaint variety of thick foreign accents.

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Patrick Magee was offered no scope for his talents, and Donald Morley, Gabriel Woolf and Robin Chapman did their best, as did the rest of the cast. One doesn’t deny that this type of play appeals to a section of the viewing public, but need the plot be so excessively complex, and couldn’t we have some suspense somewhere?

The Stage Thursday 21 November 1963, review by Silent of the episode Reflections. Because John Turner was in the cast of ATV’s The Sentimental Agent last Saturday night I took a second look at the series. It was a lighthearted story of skullduggery in the fashion world, and it was slow and corny. But for… the performance of Mr. Turner I would have switched off.

Another series built round him could be a winner. Let’s face it, this series from ATV is pretty poor stuff. But let us also face the fact that at least they are trying to give us British made series to entertain at the weekend. They are never going to please everyone, even with material vastly superior to Sentimental Agent, but I would rather they keep working away at Elstree and Shepperton than resort to purchases of pretentious American nonsense.

RATINGS: The series managed to make the Top Ten in the TAM TV ratings system of the time, the show fared better in London reaching number six during November.

Cast: CARLOS THOMPSON as Carlos Varela / CLEMENCE BETTANY as Suzy Carter (His secretary) / BURT KWOUK as Chin

Script supervisor: Ian Stuart Black / Theme Music: Ivor Slaney / Producer: Harry Fine

UK / ITV – ATV / 13×50 minutes / Broadcast 28 September – 21 December 1963

Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.