The 10%ers (ITV, 1993-1996)
It’s “were there any decent 90s ITV sitcoms?” time again, I’m sure you’re all pleased. This is one that I vaguely remember at the time, and after tracking down some episodes on YouTube to watch, it’s time for a review. The 10%ers first appeared on ITV as part of the Comedy Playhouse series in 1993. It is notable because it was created, written and produced by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor, who were also behind Red Dwarf.
Now Red Dwarf is a sitcom that is long-running and fondly thought of by many people, but this one isn’t really. When a full series launched in 1994, Naylor stayed on as a writer, accompanied by others, including Steve Punt. The 10%ers was set at a talent agency called Eden Management, where the staff have the difficult task of keeping their rota of famous rock stars, actors and so on in work and maintain their positive public profile.
It could be said that the staff themselves have trouble with their profiles. The main character was Dominic (played very entertainingly by Clive Francis, who was also in The Piglet Files, yet another 90s ITV sitcom that I plan to review soon). Also on his team are the American Tony, the rather suave Atin, Joan and Helen (replaced by Vanessa in series two), along with secretaries Gloria and Enid.
Episodes include the team having some trouble with people in showbusiness such as the smarmy host of terrible Saturday Night TV show Celebrity Underwear, complaining about magazine articles, and trying to rig awards ceremonies. There were also a few celebrities who appeared in the show as themselves sending up their personalities somewhat, including Jonathan Ross, Jim Bowen and Nicholas Parsons.
I think that there was a lot of good moments in the first series, and it did well enough to return for a second series in 1996. However, by this point it had began to run out of steam a little and the final few episodes were moved from a pre-News At Ten slot to a later one, meaning that not many people saw them (a few other ITV sitcoms were unfairly treated the same way around this time), and it hasn’t been seen on TV since.
The 10%ers ran for two series, but neither have been released on DVD, and there doesn’t seem to be much about the show online beyond some information on a few Red Dwarf fansites. From what I have seen of it though I do think that it was definitely one of the better ITV sitcoms of its era, there were a lot of good characters and it was amusingly frantic at times.