A Brighton-based talent agency is under threat of legal action from Equity, after members complained they had not been paid by the company.
Equity said around six or seven of its members are owed money by 247 Talent, although the actual number of people affected is likely to be higher, with thousands of pounds believed to be due to actors.
Equity spokesman Martin Brown told The Stage: “I have now had confirmation that a number of members have approached Equity about non-payment from 247 Talent. We are currently working on their behalf and could initiate legal action to recover the money owed to them.”
One performer, who asked not to be named, said he had worked for the company earlier this year, when he undertook three days’ extras work on EastEnders. He claimed he was owed around £400, but despite trying to contact the company he had been unable to get a response.
The performer revealed that he had contacted the BBC, which had confirmed that it had paid 247 for performers who had worked on the soap.
A spokeswoman for the soap told The Stage EastEnders was advised at the end of May this year there were payment problems with 247 Talent. She said no bookings or payments had been made to the agency since then. “Prior to EastEnders being notified, some artists’ fees were paid to the agency as per the contractual agreements and as directed by the talent in their contract with the BBC,” she added.
As The Stage investigated the complaint, the website for the company at 247talent.co.uk was taken offline. According to Companies House, two companies connected with the name 247 Talent – 247 Talent Ltd and 247talent.co.uk – both of which were registered to the same Brighton address, were dissolved in 2010.
247 Talent is understood to have been founded by Lee Towsey, who formerly operated an agency called Lee’s People. Despite claims by the performer who approached The Stage that he met with Towsey in 2010, Towsey said he had “handed over the agency three years ago” to a man called Jon Winter and had had “no dealings with the agency since then”.
The performer who spoke to The Stage confirmed his work on EastEnders had been handled by Winter.
Towsey added that “more and more artists” had been calling him in the past few weeks to complain about being unpaid and not being able to get hold of the agency.
“I am trying to establish who has and who has not been paid,” he said, adding that he believed the agency had now closed.
Winter was unavailable for comment.