Comedy Showcase: Free Agents, Channel 4

by | Nov 9, 2007 | All, Reviews

Free Agents, Channel 4

Did we like it?

Last in the Comedy Showcase series, this jet-black comedy starred Sharon Horgan as a recently bereaved widow – writers’ agent Helen – and 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… Some really sharp writing in this episode that went from laugh out-loud funny to toe-curlingly embarrassing. Great cast, but a tone that veered all over the place.

What was good about it?

• Stephen Mangan was ideal casting as the temporarily homeless Alex. Equally as keen to find a semi-permanent bed for the night as he is to take things further with Helen, his post-coital attempts at humour had us squirming. Nobody does the “putting your foot in it” schtick better than Mangan. His comments on seeing that Helen’s bedside drawer contains quite a few condoms were buttock-clenchingly embarrassing: “You’re saying that ‘This is 2007, I can buy hundreds of condoms – it doesn’t make me a slut!’” To which Helen replies, “Or it’s me saying, “It’s 2006, I can buy condoms to have sex with my fiancé.” (The recently deceased Pete) The camera pans back to reveal the bedroom covered in photos of Helen and Pete.

• Sharon Horgan was great as the sardonic Helen – trying to let Alex down as gently as possible. “I don’t think it’s a good idea for us to sleep together. Ever again.”

• Frances Tomelty as Helen’s randy mother Sylvia – shacked up with talentless actor Tod who is almost young enough to be her grandson.

• Anthony Head as Alex and Helen’s foul-mouthed and sex-obsessed boss, “You’ve been bashing some gash, haven’t you?!” and “Let’s find ourselves some F*ck buddies and spend the rest of the evening up to our nutsacs in some beautiful strangers’ minge!”

• Some of Alex’s lines were real peaches: “I don’t normally cry after sex. Though Before and During is pretty much standard.” And when 50-something Sylvia reveals that she and Tod are trying for a baby, Alex’s contribution to the conversation is an incredulous, “How?!”

What was bad about it?

• It was a very brave move to juxtapose the comedy and heartache so often, but sometimes the contrast was just too glaring.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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