Reluctant Persuaders

Series Navigation

Series 1

1. Lemon

Advertising copywriter Joseph "Joe" Starling meets an old acquaintance who is also in advertising at a big company, and when his friend has never heard of the agency he works at; Hardacre's, he sets about improving the ailing companies fortunes. Arriving at the office to speak with business partner Kennedy, they discover him dead. Potential new accounts executive Amanda arrives for an interview, but is immediately given the job and sets about interviewing Joe and graphic design Teddy for their jobs. Planning on firing them, they manage to convince her that they can turn around the fortunes and use a commemoration event for Kennedy as a relaunch. However, the plan does not go so well as receptionist Laura tells a contact that it is Hardacre who is dead.

2. We Try Harder

Amanda finds that Teddy and Joe share their office with access to the only toilet. Rupert meanwhile reveals he has an appointment scheduled with a client for a pitch leaving Teddy and Joe working on a small project involving advertising jewellery for dogs. In the toilet, Teddy blocks the toilet and ends up flooding the office by his repeated flushing, resulting in Joe having to use his shirt to block the gap under the door. Amanda discovers that Rupert has not arranged a pitch and simply just turned up, leading to him getting punched. Meanwhile, a plumber at the office ends up stealing their equipment, with Laura doing nothing to stop him. Amanda and Rupert return to the office to find the dog jewellery man, who also punches Rupert for previously sleeping with his wife.

3. The Best a Man Can Get

Joe and Teddy spend their time arguing about whether John Lewis adverts are art while Amanda heads out to lunch with a former university friend, India, who runs her own small cosmetics business. Suggesting that Hardacre's can do the advertising for her company, she gives them a short deadline though expects them to fail. Arriving back at the office, Amanda reveals to Rupert, Joe and Teddy that they will be doing a radio advertisement for a men's skin anti-aging cream which leaves them with difficulties on how to pitch. Rupert sets about finding a copy of his now out-of-print book to give them ideas while Teddy comes up with a pitiful song. Going into the pitch to India, Joe manages to conjure up an idea and save the day.

4. Vorsprung Durch Technik

Joe, Teddy, Amanda and Rupert each arrive to the office at the same time and get into the lift, where they promptly get stuck when the lift won't move and doors won't open. Attempts to use the call and emergency buttons does not yield any positive results, as Teddy begins to need to use the toilet. The four attempt to shout to Laura in the hopes she will hear them, as Amanda panics that they are going to miss a meeting she has organised. Eventually getting a signal on his phone, Joe is able to talk to Laura until the credit runs out mid-call. Amanda suggests sending Teddy through the hatch on the lift roof, before Rupert's cigarette sets off a sprinkler. Teddy however does manage to come up with a good divorce advert for a client, for use on the outside of a lift door.

Series 2

1. Live Young

The agency has to come up with a campaign for a canned-water company, which Joe suggests won't sell as young people don't want it. The conversation devolves into whether Joe and Teddy are still "young" and the target market for the product. Amanda consults with Laura about whether young people will buy it, which she suggests they won't. Rupert eventually arrives with his experience of working on Perrier's original campaign, though he has some strange ideas about today's young people and their socio-economic status which sparks another debate. Rupert begins to question Joe's life and finds that he lives with a woman who's son has died, and is allowed to live there as he reminds her of her son Pedro, while Teddy discusses his membership of an alien worshipping church.

2. Just Do It

Amanda has a new client who wants to market protein shakes to women. Amanda, Joe and Teddy meet the company owner, Jordan, who wants the usual sexist advert portraying women in scantily clad attire. Joe wants them to resign the account, though Amanda tells him that they can't afford to. Rupert however loves the advert, however Joe finds once released, the posters are soon daubed with graffiti and a large amount bad of press is generated. Jordan hosts a televised press conference, and immediately pins all the blame on Hardacre's, leaving them realised they have been played as a way to generate attention. The following day, protestors show up outside the office. Joe comes up with a plan to restore Hardacre's reputation to a laughing stock rather than an evil empire.

3. Give a Man a Fish

Joe gets caught in a lie while trying to avoid a chugger, and while discussing the situation at work he finds that Teddy regularly visits a soup kitchen for the free soup. Trying to impress Elaine who works for a homeless charity, Joe ends up featuring in a homeless advert. Meanwhile, Rupert and Amanda head to a charity gala where Rupert finds an old friend, now running a charity, has spent time in prison and wants Hardacre's to hire an ex-offender in exchange for using the agency. While hatching a plan, Teddy and Joe get arrested for curb crawling, and fail to get Amanda to help them. However, Elaine turns up after being called by Teddy, leading Joe to explain the whole story.

4. Think Different

The four have broken down in Rupert's car and resort to Laura having to give them a lift to a meeting at which they will be pitching. They find they are six hours early due to Rupert, and soon find that he is competing with another agency for the contract which is to advertise a smartphone. While waiting for their slot, Rupert reveals he has bet the agency on winning the pitch against another executive, leaving Amanda dismayed. Joe's secret also comes out that he went for a job interview at the rival agency. Originally planning a generic pitch, Joe tries a different tack. Returning to the office preparing for the worst, they discover they have won after everyone else gives a generic pitch. Rupert's rival also attempts to poach Joe, but he rejects their offer.

Series 3

1. Ideas for Life

Joe is unconscious in hospital, as Teddy, Rupert and Amanda stand by his bedside. There has been a fire at the new office which occurred at four in the morning on a Sunday, and Rupert believes Joe was the cause. Joe's memory is missing the previous week, after winning the phone advertising contract. Teddy recalls the events which include Joe starting to be anxious about his new responsibilities, and Joe looking for help with his feelings from Amanda, while Rupert's recollections are mostly about himself. Amanda receives a phone call from the phone manufacturers, who tell them that the phone is prone to exploding if left charging for too long, resulting in the fire. However, once Amanda and Rupert leave, Joe comments to Teddy that he didn't leave his phone charging.

2. Happiest Place on Earth

Laura returns from holiday to catch up on the events at the office. With the glum feeling hanging around due to the loss of the smartphone contract, the place is invaded by armed men who take Teddy. Upon calling the police, Laura reveals that they left a letter with her from Teddy. Joe, Amanda, and Rupert have to begin a quest of looking for clues in each others happy place, as well as learn about each other to find Teddy. They discover that Rupert is happiness at a gentleman's club, Joe is happiest at home writing a book on British society, Amanda is happiest by herself and that she made up a daughter, and finally Teddy is happiest at work with his colleagues, and is found in the office.

3. Connecting People

The team are discussing Befriendr, an app for helping people make friends that they have to create a campaign for. Attending a pre-launch event, Amanda decides that she will go with Joe as they are the only two acceptable faces of Hardacre's. Teddy remains in the office wallowing with Rupert, and decides to take his advice on remaking his image to make friends. On the way to the event, Amanda suggests making friends rather than spending all his time with Teddy, while Joe suggests Amanda be nicer to people. At the event, Joe finds everybody awful and Amanda suggests it may be because he appears desperate. Teddy meanwhile has to try to follow Rupert's advert on meeting women, which leaves Teddy drunk as they head off to meet Joe and Amanda at the event.

4. Because She's Worth It

Teddy begins to read a series of trashy novels written by Laurie Patterson, featuring the one-man-army character John Soldier. Heading off to a booking signing event, Joe is keen to talk to the female author about her writing style, while Teddy becomes starstruck and is unable to find the words to ask his questions. The author also turns out to be Rupert's first love and a former advertising competitor. Attempting to talk to Rupert, Laurie is shunned and she turns to Joe instead with a dinner invitation. Heading to her place, the two end up in bed. However, Rupert arrives to talk to her and discovers Joe, leaving him rejected once more.

5. The Appliance of Science

Rupert's son Elgin has arrived to work as a copywriter, and they find out he has taken him on to stop his ex-wife complaining. Amanda disapproves of the hire, but suggests he can stay for a week as a trial. Joe and Teddy find that Elgin is a conspiracy theorist, which Joe realises is down to his father's lack of love when growing up and fear of men in suits, like his father. Teddy also gets caught up in his web of conspiracies and joins him on his YouTube channel. Joe attempts to persuade Elgin of the real world, but failing, resorts to using him for an advertising campaign for Oxfordshire University when Hardacre's pitch. Elgin, after being made fun of, decides to turn his life around but leaves him somewhat crushed, and Joe feeling guilty.

Holidays are Coming (Special)

Joe is in a bar on Christmas Eve feeling lonely after just quitting the agency. He recounts his story to the barman. The agency has developed an advert for Walton department store, and it has been viewed nearly twenty million times. The department store has agreed a contract for a year, and Teddy believes that Joe has doubts about whether he can pull off another winning campaign for them. Amanda thinks he has quit for coming on to her while slightly drunk. Rupert also proclaims Joe is the new him, which is the reason Joe walked out. The pair end by having a talk, leaving Joe with more doubts about his future.

Series 4

1. If You Like a Lot of Chocolate on Your Biscuit...

It is February 2019 and Hardacre has been missing since the Christmas party. Amanda being left in charge makes Joe the Acting Creative Director and work is also progressing quickly and smoothly now that Rupert isn't interfering. Teddy however is struggling badly with him being gone as he takes to standing on the roof waiting for his boss to return. Attending a brunch which Rupert had scheduled, Joe meets Ace and is soon invited to a dinner and drinks with some other advertising people. Amanda takes to making things worse with Teddy by telling him Rupert probably left because of him, as they prepare to head into their latest pitch where Joe finds Ace is his rival which leaves him low on confidence.

2. Because Change Happenz

Rupert's return has him looking very different, and has brought along an artist named Lake. Joe is immediately suspicious of what she is doing with Rupert. Amanda also has a shock when she walks in on the pair naked while listening to Sitar music, where he reveals he has hired her. However, he places her in the office with Joe and Teddy. Amanda takes to Lake when she is complimented by her, while Joe tries to tackle Rupert who in return believes he is too much of a "clenched fist". Teddy is also persuaded to paint by Lake, and paints something that Joe, Rupert and Lake agree should be burnt. With Rupert planning on dissolving the agency, and rebranding it in a holistic way, it takes to him getting drunk to straighten his mind out, and leaves Lake having to part ways.

3. At Your Side

Teddy's thirty-third birthday has arrived, and Joe has remembered to remember after previous experience. Rupert and Amanda avoid the festivities which have been arranged, which by dinner time, still leave Teddy feeling what he has accomplished with his life. Teddy's semi-identical brother Frederick arrives with plans to go out for lunch, though Amanda quickly finds he is Teddy's opposite. Frederick soon gets to work on getting Teddy to grow-up which results in a lecturing, and him becoming upset that Teddy is tracking down their father. Returning to the office, Rupert and Frederick hit it off which leaves Amanda contemplating Rupert being their estranged father, and Frederick actually finding out.

4. Ask the Man Who Owns One

Joe arrives at the office to find that Teddy has a turkey in the office which appears to have been brought in by Rupert. Joe also discovers an industry magazine has named one of his adverts 'turkey of the week', and it quickly becomes apparent that Rupert has brought the bird in to mock Joe. Spiralling into obsession about the article and feeling depressed. Planning on sending an angry letter, Joe is eventually talked out of it by Rupert, though ends up settling on a petition to get 'turkey of the week' cancelled. Amanda tries to convince him to change tack and shrug off the criticism, and eventually resorts to telling him that the advert wasn't good. Joe sets about quitting advertising, until he finds out that Rupert has also won 'turkey of the week' seven times.

5. Have a Break

Trying to have five minutes alone, Joe is taking five minutes to practice mindfulness though is quickly interrupted by Amanda who wants to eat her lunch in the conference room. Managing to persuade Amanda to break her routine, Teddy soon finds him in the hope of eating his lunch. Rupert also gets in on the interrupting game and demands to know what he is doing. Joe's eventual outburst at wanting some time alone as he is trying to improve himself. However, he is soon dragged into a discussion by the other three of different methods of self-improvement as Rupert reveals his visits to a psychiatrist, while Amanda questions whether Joe's mindfulness app is a scam.

6. Join Our Club

Heading to a black tie awards event, Joe collects Teddy in a taxi and finds he is attending in shorts and t-shirt. At the event, Rupert and Amanda eventually arrive with comments about Joe finally looking presentable. Joe in return finds that the programme only mentions 'Hardacre' as the prize winner rather than the agency, and suggests it will be made all about Rupert as usual. Rupert takes to working the room, while Teddy finds a spare table cloth to style himself with. Charles Blackwell soon appears leading Joe to hide under the table having previously turned down his job offer. When Hardacre's wins the award for best written radio award and Rupert goes up on stage by himself, leaving Joe furious at his recognition being stolen as Amanda has to spell out some truths to him.