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The trials, tribulations and triumphs of SABC1's new Sunday night series Agent

Written by TVSA Team from the blog SABC1 on 04 Mar 2020
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We told you about it last year, things went silent with it and now the volume's turned up again on SABC1's new series Agent.

It premieres on Sunday (8 March) at 21h30 and it's a retro chic comedy-drama, starring Kay Sibiya as Blaze, an agent who wheels and deals soccer players and their scandalous lives.

His number one client: Lesego 'Ace' Moleko, played by Sisanda Henna.

He's a strike forcer with psycho tendencies who's number plate reads: “God”. 

Here's an insider photobook of cool stuff to know about the show: 

Inspired by the 2010 Soccer World Cup


It's created, written and directed by Athos Kyriakides (Isidingo, Room 9), who was inspired by the behind-the-scenes business of the World Cup when it was held in South Africa.
 

Athos: I imagined what must it be like in South Africa hosting the World Cup right now. How many agents are in Joburg right now, wheeling and dealing? 


Two years later he started work on the project and 10 years later it's on screen.
 

Athos: Blaze is an amalgamation of agents that I've talked to who told me how they work so I wanted it to be as authentic as possible. The nitty gritty of what it takes to keep ahead. 


Athos regards the game as a universal language that he calls "the tribalism of soccer".

A way of connecting with strangers where you can start a conversation with anyone who likes soccer and they'll understand you.

The deal
 

The series is produced by Jeremy Nathan, who also produced Room 9 for SABC1, so Athos and Jeremy teamed up again for this.
 

Athos: We managed to firstly do a deal with SABC1 - they were the first people to really believe in the project.

I know they don't always get a good rep at the SABC but to tell you the truth, they always believed in the show - they were the first.

And then Canal + International (French pay TV network) were also interested, so they came on board as co-producers, and I have to give Canal + a lot of credit for developing the world and the characters and the script because I got the most feedback from them.

And it evolved into what it is now. Then it was just about the logistics of how are we going to shoot this thing? because it was quite ambitious. 

There's almost 20 key characters in it, which is a massive cast for a South African TV series.


Cyclone striker!
 


The solution they found was to film in Mauritius, which became Joziburg and Cape Town, with some scenes set in Mauritius itself.

Mauritius offers tax rebates to producers so it's attracting producers from South Africa and abroad.

Production had recently wrapped on the Matthew McConaughey film Serenity when Agent started filming.
 

Athos: We used a lot of crew and HODs in Mauritius and they were all a pleasure to work with and excited because it's a new industry for them that's still growing.


But there was one problem: God.

And no, we don't mean Ace.
 

Athos: Don't get me wrong, I love Mauritius - it's a beautiful island and I love the people there but I think shooting in November of 2017, which is effectively late into their summer, it's like 100% humidity every day. 

Then, in January, we had to shut down the production for three days because of a cyclone.

The whole island was on lockdown because they were expecting the worst they'd had in 25 years or something like that so the climate and the weather were quite challenging to shoot. 


Going for broke


 
The Ka-Ching! runs out.

The cyclone resulted in a botched episode, with missing scenes they couldn't film, and the production didn't have enough money to finish filming them afterwards.

The production returned to South Africa in early 2018 with a show that was only 95% complete.

Now we know why it didn't happen on SABC1 when it was supposed to.

When South Africans won't come to the game


South African businesses proved to be too conservative to sponsor the show but Mauritian businesses were open-minded.

Athos: The show's quite risqué in a way because there's a lot of profanity but I don't think it's ever used in an exploitative way - it's just the way the characters talk - but a lot of sponsors that we tried to attract didn't see its potential - they never really took it seriously.

We couldn't find any sponsors in South Africa. 


The show found sponsors in Mauritius instead e.g. Air Mauritus (see pic above).

About that 5% 
 

 
When the production returned to South Africa after the cyclone fiasco, they sweated for more cash and producer Jeremy Nathan eventually managed to source funding to finish it.

The missing 5% of scenes were filmed in Joziburg in mid-2019.

Will you be able to spot the episode?

It's on Netflix but...

... no-one knows 'cos it ain't Queen Sono.

 

Once the production was finished and ready to go, Netflix saw it and bought the streaming rights to it.

The problem this time: Jesus. 

They released it on 27 December, when everyone was distracted by the festive season so its arrival came and went like a ripped Christmas present under a tree.

Also, Netflix didn't make the show themselves like they did Queen Sono so they didn't tell anyone about it - including us.

Why should we watch?
 

Who better to ask than the creator?

Athos: I think because people can relate to the characters sometimes, even though they're so larger than life.

I don't think we've ever really seen soccer in this way before and I mean that internationally as well.

I know there have been shows set in that world like Footballers Wives', like The Dreamfactory from England but nothing that really looked at football for the way it is right now and the way business works and these structures that they have in football like the transfer window.

We think it's just a game but this is how the entire multi-million dollar sport operates and I don't think anyone has ever really played with those pillars in the sport in a drama series before.


You can catch it on SABC1 on Sunday, 8 March at 21h30 or stream it on Netflix.

You'll find the full cast line-up on the TVSA Show Page here: Agent
 

Actors in this post: Kay Sibiya, Sisanda Henna

Shows in this post: Agent

Channels in this post: SABC1



1 Comment

Timone
04 Mar 2020 16:17

21h30 on a Sunday night, good luck to them! I will definitely be recording it.


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