Ten Percent review: How does it compare to Call My Agent?
The supremely popular French series has been given a British makeover.
Call My Agent! has achieved smash hit status, both domestically in France and on the global stage, so it was only a matter of time before other nations adopted the format for themselves: enter Ten Percent, a British remake helmed by W1A's John Morton.
Like the French series, which revolves around Parisian talent agency ASK, which is struggling to adjust to the passing of its founder Samuel Kerr, this series takes the same premise and transposes it to London-based agency Nightingale Hart.
Screen legend Jim Broadbent plays Richard Nightingale, the agency co-founder who suddenly dies, leaving the business in disarray as the staff struggle to process the news and what this will mean for the company and its clients.
As with the French series, there are a host of celebrity cameos alongside the new core cast, including Olivia Williams and Helena Bonham Carter, who are vying for the same role, plus a hilarious skit on Shakespeare featuring Dominic West.
Emma Corrin, Kelly Macdonald and Himesh Patel also pop up across the eight episodes, but does it match the brilliance of Call My Agent!?
Ten Percent captures the spirit of the source material, but the inherent focus on UK pop culture ensures that it carves out its own identity, which is no small feat given what it's following on from.
Unfamiliarity with the primary series also has zero bearing on viewer enjoyment, in part thanks to references from recent series and films such as Bridgerton, Emma and Little Women.
Perhaps one of the more obvious changes is the casting of Jack Davenport as Richard's son Jonathan Nightingale – the equivalent in the original, Mathias Barneville, isn't related to the company founder – which gives that aspect of the narrative a more intimate and impactful dimension.
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The time we spend with Richard in the opening episode gives us crucial insight into his managerial style and the positive relationship he had with his clients, which Jonathan must work tirelessly to maintain.
As in the French series, Jonathan has an illegitimate daughter who becomes an assistant – in the original, Camille Valentini became Andréa Martel's assistant and was Mathias's daughter. Here it is Misha, played by Hiftu Quasem, who struggles to keep her real relationship to Jonathan secret, and she becomes accidentally entangled with his son Luke.
That thread, which is explored in the original, is heavily expanded upon in this version, with greater emphasis placed on Luke and his relationship with Misha as they uncover their family past.
There are several background subplots that make for welcome additions, including Tim Mcinnerny's struggling actor Simon Gould, who is represented by the agency. He offers an outside perspective and enjoys an arc across the course of the season as he strives to reassert his career.
Lydia Leonard's Rebecca Fox is, as with Andréa, a lesbian, which is explored through her relationship with war correspondent Margaux Martorana – an added detail here is a project titled Eight Days that Martorana has been working on with Rebecca and attempts to get over the line.
The decision to merge Nightingale Hart with an LA-based agency also throws up a raft of problems and again, differs from the original script, in which ASK must fend off competition from rival Parisian agencies.
Ten Percent is likely to please newcomers unfamiliar with the world of ASK. It's far from a frame-by-frame remake and while some of the basic story beats and character arcs are retained, the Amazon series is its own beast, diverging away from the path Call My Agent! travels down and expanding on elements that often took a backseat in the French series.
The characters largely retain the same core role as their French counterparts, but they succeed in feeling distinct, in large part due to their distinctly British traits.
Given that this is Ten Percent's first outing, it remains to be seen if it will reach the lofty heights of Call My Agent!, which is returning for a fifth season and a film, but the early signs are certainly promising.
Ten Percent premieres on Thursday 28th April on Amazon Prime Video. Check out more of our Drama coverage or visit our TV Guide to see what's on tonight.
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