Ricky Gervais & Sharon Horgan’s Agent Says Creatives Should “Be Careful What They Wish For” Over Indie Launches

Ricky Gervais and Sharon Horgan’s agent has said creatives should “be careful what they wish for” when considering whether to launch production companies.

United Agents vet Duncan Hayes told a BBC Comedy Festival audience that his constant challenge is “steering” creatives towards writing and directing over getting too involved with their businesses, which can be incredibly time costly.

Gervais runs Derek Productions and Horgan is the co-founder of Merman TV, and both have devoted much of their time to building up their indies over the past few years.

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“Sometimes Sharon has a lot of plates to spin,” said Hayes. “She is running a successful indie and has lots of scripts to write. It can feel a bit ‘be careful what you wish for’ when you have the weight of your own production company.”

The Bad Sisters creator recently said she is pausing work on U.S. projects due to the writers strike and Hayes said UK agents are throwing their support behind the WGA, although he stressed the “business and structure” in the UK is “not the same” as the U.S.

For Maureen Vincent, another vet who reps the likes of Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders, the WGA’s fight for rights around AI is the crux.

“AI is the erosion of writers income, which could be phenomenal,” she added.

The pair pointed to the differences between their work and that of U.S. agents, with Vincent saying UK reps behave much more holistically.

“We do the deal, help promote shows and get our clients going whereas in the U.S. they have separate people for business affairs, separate lawyers and so on,” she added.

With the costs of comedy rising enormously and BBC Comedy Director Jon Petrie last night calling for a comedy tax credit, Hayes and Vincent backed the BBC for giving their high-profile clients their first starts in the business.

The Office co-creator Stephen Merchant was discovered via a BBC production training scheme, while Horgan’s debut Pulling came after she was championed to write sketches for the public broadcaster.

Vincent added: “God bless the BBC, without whom we wouldn’t have the comedy we have.”

The pair were speaking alongside Adjani Salmon and Amelia Dimoldenberg’s agents at the Comedy Festival in Cardiff. Earlier, Horgan talked a packed masterclass through her decorated career and criticized the U.S. system of pitching and note-taking.

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