Tensions are rising between the Algerian delegates and the French ruling military presence. A conference is to be held to find a peaceful resolution for both parties in the wake of an assassination of a local freedom fighter. Michael Strait is tasked to attend and find out the truth to why there is sabotage in the air.
A picture is worth more than a thousand words and this first episode of the Man of the World series begin right away with powerful footage of rioting Algerian revolutionaries against the occupying French government. The foundation is set for the series and the character of Michael Strait, played by Craig Stevens, by establishing his credibility as a world-renowned photographer and international influencer on governments and politicians. Tracy Reed as Maggie Warren adds an elegance to the series which almost demands it with all the jet setting men around.
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.
The region of Palabria rejects a no strings attached £ 11 million gift from the Dollar for Europe trust. But why? Now with only 3 days before the trust opportunity expires Bill Randall must head to Palabria to find out what happened to such an easy deal. The Dollars for Europe Trust would be an easy commission for Mercury so Bill’s interests are not just the people of Palabria. Bill and Chin have a couple of tricks up their sleeves to please all interested parties.
The final episode of this series starts with a very rough edit of Carlos Verela heading out by ship with a beautiful lady, perhaps to close off the series with an appearance of the sentimental agent. Carlos has been missing from the last two episodes. Now that Carlos is gone, Bill Randall, Chin and Miss Carter must handle the business of Mercury International. This episode view into the world of bribes and mild corruption certainly seems feasible in reality and likely was inspired by “gifts” pouring into Europe after World War 2. A decent way to send off this series with a Mercury International happy ending.
Bill Randall is convinced by the daughter of a dead art collector to insure the exporting of a hoard of priceless antiques. The appeal made was to protect the goods from a greedy government looking to take hold of these treasures. This risky business takes on more risk when the shipment goes missing and so does the reputation of Mercury International.
Although I am not an expert at insurance dealing, this episode happens to bring a complicated scheme of insurance fraud into the light. The world of antiques im sure is never far from the protectionists effort to insure their stake in their treasures. Bill Randall is back to play the Mercury International spokesperson while Carlos is away and does get himself into a right mess. It appears his intuition is failing him.
A professor Fletcher and his assistant seeks out Carlos Varela to facilitate some pictures of an ancient Islamic scroll. Carlos’s association with Prince Mahmoud allows him relatively easy access to the scroll and offers to find a way to help them. Through the desert heat, treachery becomes more appealing and Carlos’s reputation is stuck in a sand storm.
Chronically the 11th episode in this series, The Scroll of Islam has Carlos back in the spotlight as the lead of Mercury International. This desert themed episode, despite the obvious racist undertones, is a departure from the European jet setting locations of the previous episodes but still maintains the overall simplicity of the series. The scroll of islam ultimately offers a new space in which Carlos can be the main attraction.