The current and fifth series of Hustle is just finishing on BBC1 and what a triumph it is. Created by the innovative production company Kudos (the same people who brought us Spooks and Life on Mars), Hustle is about a group of con artists or grifters who see themselves as modern-day Robin Hoods. Their mantra? They only steal from rich, unpleasant people who deserve it.
The original cast comprised Adrian Lester (from Primary Colors), Jaime Murray (who is now in Dexter), Marc Warren, Robert Glenister (brother to Philip who stars in Life on Mars) and Robert Vaughn late of Man From UNCLE. Murray and Warren have now left the show to be replaced by Matt di Angelo (from EastEnders) and the excellent newcomer Kelly Adams.
The idea of the show is that this small group of conmen identify the person they are going to con (the mark), find out as much about as possible and construct an elaborate ploy to extract hundreds of thousands of pounds out of them. The plots can be very complicated but always reach a satisfying conclusion where all is explained. The team go for the ‘long con’. They are not simply thieves or pickpockets - they work intelligently, they do the homework and find the angle.
Attention to detail is always very important. To explain the complicated plot lines, the characters sometime come ‘out of time’ to point out what they are going to do. When things are going well and they have just pulled of a scoop, they often break the fourth wall and smile at the camera (and us, the audience).
The action mostly takes places in London and we are treated to fantastic shots of the city’s skyline, day and night, from the glamorous hotels the crew love to inhabit. All classes of society are represented – the heartless banker, the upper class idiot, the rude, rich woman who ruthlessly runs an old people’s home and the Cockney geezer who wants to get rich quick. The crew almost always get the better of the bad guys, while seeing the victims are all right.
An early episode involved Lester (aka Mickey Bricks) and Warren (Danny Blue) being left stark naked in the middle Trafalgar Square in broad daylight as the result of a bet. Their aim is to get clothed and have £500 in their pockets by the end of the day. It was genius.
The good news is that another series has been commissioned to be shown in 2010 – sublime.