As a 1963 spin-off of another ITC show called Man of the World, The Sentimental Agent continued the on-screen character of Carlos Verela. The Man of the World series had an episode aptly named The Sentimental Agent which featured Carlos Thompson. His notable appearance started the ball rolling towards having a dedicated weekly series solely on Carlos’s character.
The Sentimental Agent can grow on you. The scenes of 1960s London and Europe, the fantastic ear worm inducing opening theme by Ivor Slaney and the familiar charm that comes with a production by Lew Grade all make this series worth at least a peek.
Carlos Thompson (Carlos Verela) as the lead actor adds to this charm by his exotic and refined demeanour. After a career in Hollywood and South America, Carlos settled in Europe with his arguably more famous wife Lilli Palmer. There he rekindled his acting career in Germany and in the UK specifically in The Sentimental Agent. Carlos Verela is in the import/export business (Mercury International) and uses his sophistication to wheel and deal with the best of them. His influence has made him friends and enemies and thus the adventures ensue. Carlos’s sense of humour and wit support his advantage over government officials, real estate agents and insurance dealers.
The supporting cast of Clemence Bettany (Miss Carter) and Burt Kwouk (Chin) hold their own as consistently strong characters that in some episodes have more screen time than Carlos Thompson. Miss Carter is the backbone to the business and is often unfortunately portrayed as the stereotypical office secretary. Chin, played by Burt Kwouk, is the ever dedicated Chinese butler/sidekick that seems to be there at the right moment when needed. This role is also clear in its racial connotations that perhaps in the 1960s was hardly identifiable but today runs into the uncomfortable range. Burt Kwouk is still a splendid actor despite the stereotypical typecasting he experienced in most of his career. Another supporting cast member John Turner (Bill Randall) steps in as Carlos’s replacement in the tail end of the series due to the official statement that Carlos Thompson left the series due to his lack of English language skills. Whether this is the truth, Bill Randall’s appearance in the show became the turning point for the series. Bill Randal’s clumsy and oblivious persona was no match to the charisma and aura of Carlos’s character.
After 13 episodes, 5 of which did not feature Carlos Thompson, the Sentimental Agent fizzled into the abyss of unmemorable television series. Yet after the experience of watching all these episodes in detail it is in my opinion that this fate is not deserved.
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