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Soaring cost of talent is ‘blighting’ entertainers’ careers

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The careers of popular entertainers and presenters are being put at risk because of the high prices their agents are demanding for them, a leading TV producer has warned.

Graham Stuart, who co-founded So Television with Graham Norton, claimed there are “quite a few talent in the industry whose careers have been ended or damaged because they have got to a fee level that has been forced by their agents”.

He added that “careers are blighted” by agents who are demanding so much for talent, which in turn leaves little budget to spend on the programmes they are to front or appear in.

Speaking at the Edinburgh International Television Festival he said “showbusiness” is built on the success of talent, and added: “I think they should be paid a lot of money but there’s no point having them paid lots of money with no show. It’s about achieving that balance.”

Stuart also said that the UK is currently experiencing an “era of conservatism” in broadcasting, with broadcasters afraid to take risks on new talent.

He warned that this meant UK television is currently populated with the “same faces”.

His concerns were shared by Arlene Phillips and Denise Van Outen, who said new talent were not currently being given the opportunities to work in television.

Phillips, appearing in a video recording played in a session about agents, said: “I think there is a lot of exciting new talent ready to burst on to television but there is a certain fear, so you see the same faces coming round and round again.”

Van Outen also said that there “are a handful of people you see on TV all the time”.

“They are brilliant at what they do, but producers and directors are too scared to take any risks now, which makes it very difficult for other people,” she said.