Hustle (TV series)

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Hustle
Hustle title card2-640.jpg
Title card from series 5 to series 8
Created by Tony Jordan
Starring Adrian Lester
Robert Glenister
Matt Di Angelo
Kelly Adams
Robert Vaughn
Jaime Murray
Marc Warren
Rob Jarvis
Ashley Walters
Theme music composer Simon Rogers
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of series 8
No. of episodes 48 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Karen Wilson
Howard Burch
Tony Jordan
Simon Crawford Collins
Running time

60 minutes

~52 minutes outside of UK
Broadcast
Original channel BBC One
BBC HD (2007–2010)
BBC One HD (2011–2012)
Picture format 16:9 576i (Series 1–8)
1080i (HD) (Series 4–8)
Original run 24 February 2004 (2004-02-24) – 17 February 2012 (2012-02-17)

Hustle is a British television drama series made by Kudos Film and Television and broadcast on BBC One in the United Kingdom. Created by Tony Jordan and first broadcast in 2004, the series follows a group of con artists who specialise in "long cons" (although Danny Blue, played by Marc Warren, was a specialist in "short cons") – extended deceptions which require greater commitment, but which return a higher reward than simple confidence tricks. The eighth and last series ended on 17 February 2012.[1]

Production[edit]

Conception[edit]

Hustle was largely born from the same production team that created and popularised the early series of Spooks, a similarly-styled drama series first broadcast in 2002.[2] Bharat Nalluri, that series' Executive Director, conceived the idea in early 2002 while filming for the first Spooks series was ongoing.[3] Nalluri pitched the concept to Jane Featherstone, Managing Director of Kudos Film & Television which was the production company behind Spooks, in the back of a taxi while returning from a day's filming.[3][4] Intrigued by the idea, Featherstone recruited Tony Jordan, the lead scriptwriter of the soap opera EastEnders,[5] to develop it into a workable proposal.[6]

Jordan quickly produced some initial script drafts, which Featherstone took to the BBC; Gareth Neame, Head of Drama Commissioning, rapidly approved a six-part series.[2] Featherstone assembled a production team that had considerable overlap with the Spooks crew, including Simon Crawford Collins as producer and Matthew Graham as co-writer.[2] In creating the first episodes, Jordan drew inspiration from the long tradition of confidence tricks and heists in Hollywood and television, including The A-Team, The Sting and The Grifters.[6] Featherstone remarked that "Ocean's Eleven was on around the time Bharat and I first spoke, and I think it helped to inspire us, but really we took our inspiration from a whole catalogue of movies and books... we wanted to make something that had the energy, verve, style and pure entertainment value of those sorts of films"[7] At the same time, the writers attempted to draw on the success of recent blockbusters such as Ocean's Eleven and Mission: Impossible; speaking in an interview in December 2003, Crawford explained that "[such shows] worked because of the interaction within the group – the plotlines were almost irrelevant".[8]

Casting[edit]

With Hustle greenlit for filming, the production team began searching for actors to play both the main characters and the marks for each episode. The process was initially quite difficult; Crawford described his "immediate thought [as] 'this is so good, how the hell are we going to get a cast to live up to these characters?' ... Tony had created incredibly strong characters, each with their own particular style and panache, but they also had to form a believable, if unusual, 'family' unit".[9] Robert Vaughn, the Academy Award-nominated star of The Man from U.N.C.L.E., was soon suggested as a natural choice to play Albert Stroller, the elderly 'roper' responsible for ensnaring potential marks.[9] After meeting Vaughn over lunch, Crawford "[recognised] straight away that he could bring a whole new dimension to the part of Albert".[9] Vaughn was immediately offered the role, and asked to begin filming the following day.[10]

Jordan's script called for a group of five con artists or "grifters", with a wide range of ages, appearances and experience.[11] The production team cast Adrian Lester, at the time playing Henry V at the National Theatre, as Michael Stone, the former leader of the group;[12] Marc Warren as Danny Blue, the "inside man";[12][13] and Robert Glenister as Ash Morgan, the "fixer";[13] in August 2003. Although having numerous credits in film and on the stage, Lester was an unknown face in television, having had less than two hours' broadcast screen time prior to the first Hustle series.[6][14] Lester explained that he "couldn't imagine playing the same character for years, but Hustle was completely different. In the very first rehearsal we were doing a dance routine and then the next thing I know I'm whacking out several different accents and I just thought, 'I'm in heaven, this is great!'"[14]

Jaime Murray completed the lead actors, playing Stacie Monroe who, as the grifters' only female member, is self-styled as "the lure".[13] Murray, described by one of the Hustle production team as "that rare specimen – a stunningly beautiful actress who can actually act",[15] and who auditioned in platform shoes to match her 5 ft 7in height with Stacie's description as having "legs that go on for miles",[16] was reportedly "terrified" to be working with the more famous actors Vaughn and Lester, saying "when we were filming the first couple of episodes I was absolutely petrified and was convinced that it would be really obvious on screen. So when I watched some of it on tape I was totally amazed that you couldn't see how frightened I really was. I kept thinking, 'Oh my God! I'm working with Adrian Lester and Robert Vaughn. Any time now someone is going to tap me on the shoulder and ask me to get my coat!'"[15]

In addition to the lead actors, the production team recruited a number of actors, both major and minor, to play the marks in each episode; including David Haig, Tamzin Outhwaite, and David Calder.[11][17]

Character Actor Years Series Episode Count
Michael "Mickey Bricks" Stone Adrian Lester 2004–2006, 2009–2012 1–3, 5–8 42
Ash "Three Socks" Morgan Robert Glenister 2004–2012 1–8 48
Sean Kennedy Matt Di Angelo 2009–2012 5–8 24
Emma Kennedy Kelly Adams 2009–2012 5–8 24
Albert Stroller Robert Vaughn 2004–2012 1–8 47
Eddie Rob Jarvis 2004–2012 1–8 46
Stacie Monroe Jaime Murray 2004–2007, 2012 1–4, 8 (Last episode) 25
Danny Blue Marc Warren 2004–2007, 2012 1–4, 8 (Last episode) 25
Billy Bond Ashley Walters 2007 4 5

     – Character had a major role in the last series

Filming[edit]

With the cast and crew in place, filming for the first Hustle series took place in London between August and November 2003.[13] The lead actors were given professional instruction in sleight-of-hand and pickpocketing; "all the tricks of the trade from card-shuffling to stealing watches", according to Lester.[14] The cast found the experience informative; Murray explained, "I realised that most cons are all about diversion – while you're trying to con somebody you're doing something to distract them in the opposite direction so they don't notice and that's exactly how pickpockets work".[15]

Several members of the cast described Hustle's filming schedule as incredibly hectic. Vaughn said that "[the role] was offered to me, and I was told to get on a plane an hour after I got the phone call and start shooting the following day."[10] Speaking in 2009 after filming four series of the show, Lester explained that "when we start shooting Hustle we film two episodes concurrently, with the scenes out of sequence. Knowing where you are in the intricate plots at any one moment is... challenging".[18] Murray, by contrast, claimed that the hardest scene to film was from the fourth episode, when Danny loses spectacularly to Stacie in strip poker and ends up entirely naked. "It was the toughest scene for me of the entire six months we spent filming the series... Stacie is supposed to be calm, cool and collected... she looks down, checks him out and casually and suavely makes a comment. I kept looking down, dissolving into fits of laughter and was almost unable to deliver my line. So all you'll see is me laughing".[19]

Although the programme typically contains few non-trivial stunts or dramatic special effects, the first episode includes an example of Ash Morgan's favourite con, known as "The Flop": having previously received a fractured skull in a bar brawl, Morgan deliberately steps in front of moving cars and exaggerates the accident. Although not actually hurt, X-ray scans show his fractured skull, and the driver's insurance company pays out a compensation claim.[20] Glenister balked at doing the entire stunt himself, saying "I got a stunt man who did all the smashing against the windscreen stunts but I did everything else... We all like doing the stunts involving driving fast because it's boy's-own stuff but when it comes to the dangerous stunts I'm quite happy to leave it to someone else!"[20]

Release[edit]

The first episode of Hustle was broadcast on BBC One on 24 February 2004,[2] driven by a strong advertising campaign organised by Abbott Mead Vickers,[21] surrounding its slogan, "the con is on".[22] The programme was an immediate success, attracting over 6.7 million viewers,[23][24] and attracting favourable reviews (see below). Before the first series had finished airing, the BBC had sold rebroadcast licenses to TV channels in twelve countries, including Italy,[25] Norway,[26] Germany,[26] Israel, Russia and the Netherlands.[27] Anita Davison, Commercial Director for BBC Worldwide, claimed that "The series [had] all the hallmarks of a huge international hit".[27] The series was later licensed to broadcasters in India and South America.[28]

Later series[edit]

In response to the extremely positive reaction, the BBC recommissioned the show for a second series on 17 March 2004, after just three episodes had aired.[24][29] The second series retained much of the initial production team including Jordan as lead scriptwriter, and introduced Karen Wilson as producer.[29]

Series two[edit]

Filming for the second Hustle series took place in mid-2004, again in and around central London. Lester described the second shoot as "much easier" than the chaotic first series. "On the first series we didn't know each other... we were trying to work out what roles we were going to play and the scripts were still being written as we were shooting it; it was all a case of finding out what exactly Hustle was going to be.. second time around it was much easier, much quicker... when we were reading the script you could really hear the other actors doing their lines because you knew kind of how they were going to do them..."[30] With the success of the first series, Hustle's team of writers were able to be more inventive in creating new plots for the second six-episode run, including issues some of the characters had to deal with, and stories which could keep the audience guessing until the end.[31]

The programme retained all of the lead actors from the first series; guest actors appearing the second run included Lee Ingleby, Fay Ripley,[32] and Robert Llewellyn.[33] The second series was broadcast on BBC One from 29 March 2005,[34] to a first-night audience of 6.7 million.[35]

Series three[edit]

In the wake of the equally successful second series, the BBC took Hustle to the American market, securing a licensing deal with AMC.[36] In addition to exclusive broadcast rights to the first and second series in the United States,[36] AMC also took the position of co-production partner on the third series,[37] already in pre-production, with the option to take the same position on a fourth series.[37] The BBC described the move as "Securing the right platform... essential for a series to succeed in the competitive US market...".[36] The first two series premiered in the US in January 2006 on AMC[38][38] The BBC also secured new licensing deals with broadcasters in Australia and New Zealand.[39][40]

Capitalising on Hustle's international success, the BBC created a spinoff series, The Real Hustle, which premiered on 10 February 2006.[41] The documentary follows three genuine hustlers – a magician and professional gambler,[42] a glamorous actress,[43] and a professional sleight-of-hand artist and crooked gambling consultant[44] – as they pull short-cons on unsuspecting businesses and members of the public. The BBC described the series as an attempt "to reveal how the scams work so that the viewer can avoid being ripped off by the same con".[45]

All five of the lead actors again reprised their roles in the third series, which featured guest stars including Richard Chamberlain,[46] Linford Christie, Sara Cox and Paul Nicholls.[47] The series premiered on 10 March 2006,[48] running until 14 April. The second episode, featuring Danny and Mickey running naked through Trafalgar Square,[49] attracted a viewing audience of 6 million.[50] Lester described the scene as one of his most embarrassing moments on-set, saying "you forget just how many phone cameras there are... we thought [the Square] was fairly deserted, but as soon as someone shouted 'Action' there was a tourbus behind us and the whole top deck suddenly started filming".[51]

Series four[edit]

With the backing of AMC, a fourth series of Hustle was virtually guaranteed, and by late 2006 it was clear that the cable network was taking a commanding role in the show's development.[52] Despite the increased funding AMC provided, which allowed the writers to set episodes in Las Vegas and Los Angeles,[53] the series was quickly mired in casting concerns. It was first rumoured in April 2006 that Adrian Lester might not return as Mickey Bricks in the fourth series;[54] the BBC confirmed his departure in September that year, elevating Marc Warren's character to the lead role and casting Ashley Walters as a new member of the group.[55] The BBC was quick to dispel any suggestion that Lester's resignation was connected to the shift in production focus, stating "it is a shame that, due to his current filming commitments, Adrian cannot join us this time round...",[55] while Lester explained his action as "need[ing] to do something else, be associated with something else".[56] However, Lester also admitted that he felt that the series "just got a little bit too 'light'".[56]

Series five[edit]

Series Five debuted on 8 January 2009 with the return of Adrian Lester, the departure of cast members Marc Warren and Jaime Murray, and the arrival of Matt Di Angelo and Kelly Adams as their replacements. With the return of Lester's character, Mickey Bricks, Ashley Walters's Billy Bond was removed. The series resumed production in the summer of 2008; in addition, the title sequence that had been used in the last four series was changed with a new animation sequence and a much more upbeat, catchier version of the theme tune.[57]

Series six[edit]

Series Six started 4 January 2010.[58] All of the fifth series cast returned with production that moved to Birmingham,[59] despite the show retaining its London setting. The series once again consisted of 6 episodes.[60] Lolita Chakrabarti (Lester's real-life wife) made a guest star appearance as Museum Curator Nishika Baboor in this series' third episode, "Tiger Troubles". Other guest stars in this series included Mark Benton, Simon Day and Danny Webb.

Series seven[edit]

The seventh series of Hustle began airing on 7 January 2011.[61] All main cast members from series 6 reprised their roles.[62] This was the second series to be filmed in Birmingham, the fourth in HD and the third series featuring all of the current cast. Episode 2 was partially set in Birmingham when the gang follow a crooked woman's trick to the city. Guest stars in this series included Anna Chancellor, Angela Griffin, Clive Swift, Hannah Gordon, Claire Goose, Denis Lawson and Roger Lloyd-Pack. Series 7 was the most watched series yet, with viewing figures reaching 7.2 million.

Series eight[edit]

The eighth series started airing on 13 January 2012 on BBC1 at 9 pm after being pushed back from 6 January. Creator Tony Jordan said that it would be the last series for at least a while;[1] later, the BBC announced that there would not be a series 9. Guest stars featuring this series include Sheila Hancock, Martin Kemp and Paterson Joseph and former Liverpool footballer Ian Rush.[63] Peter Polycarpou[64] and John Barrowman[65] also revealed on Twitter that they had guest roles in series eight. This was the third series to be filmed in Birmingham, the fifth in HD and the fourth series featuring all of the current cast.[63] Adrian Lester directed an episode, in which Mickey is kidnapped.[63] Other cons see the team take on the world of slimming pills and pull off a gold heist. Jaime Murray and Marc Warren returned to their roles as Stacie Monroe and Danny Blue, respectively, for the final episode.

Format[edit]

Each one-hour programme follows the team of grifters as they practise the "long con", an extended deception practised against one or more "marks". Speaking in a documentary video, Adrian Lester described the difference between the long con and more common confidence tricks: "where you take a mark and convince them of a certain situation or a lie, and you send them away to get more money and come back and give it to you".[30] In the first series, Stacie explains to Danny the reason such long cons tend to work: unlike the more obvious short cons, "most marks don't report a con because they think they've done something illegal, or better still, they don't know they've been conned in the first place".[30]

The team adhere to the credo "you can't cheat an honest man", with all of their marks being people who have some kind of illegal or immoral activity in their pasts or simply demonstrating a fundamentally negative personality; in one episode, Mickey stated that he selects marks that he personally has reason to dislike in order to ensure that the con is never exclusively about the money. Some episodes have even featured the crew performing cons that benefit people they have befriended over the course of the episode rather than having them be the sole benefactors of the con; examples include them faking a jewel theft from the Tower of London and allowed a member of the cleaning staff to discover it after she showed sympathy for team member Ash Morgan while he was working undercover as an immigrant worker ("Eye of the Beholder"), leaving the money stolen from a highly secure slot machine in a casino to a security guard at the casino who had advised Stacie Monroe during her brief employment ("Big Daddy Calling"), stating that they will 'return' an apparently stolen painting only after the rights to the security system that protected it had been returned to the wife of the original inventor (The inventor having committed suicide after he was cheated out of the patent) ("New Recruits"), and arranging for the niece of a friend to get a modelling contract with an agency that has a rivalry with the company that cheated her out of her money in her original application.

A scene from Series 5, Episode 3, demonstrating the program's use of bullet time.

The series frequently breaks the fourth wall (usually at least once per episode) and uses cutaway scenes shot in a different style from the rest of the show. For example, in several episodes the characters appear to "stop time", interacting with other characters that are frozen in place, discussing the con either with each other, or even with the audience. The technique is used as a metaphor for how the main characters manipulate their environment at will, as opposed to normal people who are oblivious to what is going on. Examples of this can be seen in the pilot episode ("The Con Is On"), the first episode of the second series ("Gold Mine") and the second episode of the fourth series ("Signing Up to Wealth"). Other fourth wall-breaking moments are more subtle – a character smiles at the camera as the con begins to take shape, or makes an editorial comment to the viewers. Some episodes insert fantasy sequences – scenes shot like a Bollywood musical or a silent movie, for example.

Each episode also amounts to a confidence game played upon the viewers through the use of misdirection and hidden plot details that are revealed at the end of the story. Not all cons depicted are successful, and some episodes focus on the characters dealing with the consequences of their actions. However, even if a con does fail, the characters usually come out on top in some way or other.

In addition to one long con, each episode features a number of short cons played by the major characters on members of the public. The short cons demonstrate the seemingly endless array of tricks professional con men possess and the ease with which short cons can be played.

Each episode of Hustle is a stand-alone program, with usually little or no connection to other episodes in the series; however, it has contained some continuity before, for example:

  • An ongoing storyline of Mickey's wife wanting a divorce and a settlement in the second and third episodes of the first series.
  • The team going on a holiday at the end of the first series and returning at the start of the second.
  • The team being caught using a fake credit card and having to vacate their hotel place at the end of the second series and still being homeless at the start of the third.
  • Billy gradually moving up in his position in the team during the fourth series.
  • Mickey going to Australia at the start of series 4 to sell the Sydney Opera House and getting caught doing it, then escaping back to the United Kingdom in series 5.
  • A police officer featured in the first episode of series one trying to arrest the team headed by a fake police officer whom the team had hired, she later appeared in the last episode of series two when she was recruited for the same job due to her prior knowledge.
  • In series 5, the team conned Harry Fielding and Carlton Wood, two obnoxious businessmen, out of £500,000. The two returned to con back the gang in the series 5 finale. However Mickey and the crew knew Harry and Carlton's plan and turned the con on them.
  • Lucy Britford, (aka "Inspector Lucy Bitchface", as Emma called her), played by Indira Varma, a Detective Chief Inspector who was outsmarted by the gang in series 6 episode 1 after an attempt to bring them to justice, reappeared in the series finale in which the gang are blackmailed into a heist. They outsmart the police. However Lucy doesn't actually reappear to the gang; she was just seen via a video message.

Broadcast history[edit]

Series UK Broadcast Average Audience[23]
1 24 February – 30 March 2004 6.47 million
2 25 March – 3 May 2005 5.82 million
3 10 March – 14 April 2006 5.86 million
4 3 May – 7 June 2007 5.54 million
5 8 January – 12 February 2009 6.07 million
6 4 January – 8 February 2010 6.27 million
7 7 January – 18 February 2011 6.79 million
8 13 January – 17 February 2012 6.21 million

In October 2005, it was announced that the BBC had sold United States screening rights for the first two series to cable television station AMC, who joined as a production partner for the third run. The series is also screened in Spain and Portugal through the People+Arts channel, partially owned by the BBC. The first two series aired back-to-back on CBC in Canada during the summer of 2006. The third series premiered on CBC on 13 February 2007.

Series 4 marked a departure from the usual airing of the series. Typically, the BBC would air the episode in the UK and then 6 to 9 months later they would air in the US on AMC. However, due to the additional funding that AMC provided for the production, Series 4 debuted in the US on 18 April 2007, prior to airing in the UK. As a result of AMC's increased involvement, the first and final episodes of series 4 were filmed on location in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. The series has also been shown in other countries such as New Zealand, Australia (both on ABC1 and Foxtel's UKTV), Germany on RTL Crime, Japan, Sweden on SVT, Italy on La7 and Finland on MTV3. Currently series two is aired to the middle east (Mostly KSA, Oman & UAE) by Dubai One, a channel based in Dubai UAE. Virgin Media TV bought the rights to broadcast Hustle on its flagship channel Virgin 1.

The series received a spin-off documentary, The Real Hustle, in which Paul Wilson, Jessica-Jane Clement and Alexis Conran travel the country demonstrating cons to real people with the aid of hidden cameras. It is aired regularly on BBC Three.

The title sequence, created by Berger & Wyse,[66] was nominated for a Royal Television Society Award (2005), a BAFTA (2006) and an Emmy (2007).[67] The title music, composed by Simon Rogers was also nominated for the Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music Emmy in 2007.

Following much media speculation, including reports of the programme being cancelled[68] and a motion picture spin-off,[69] the BBC announced on 12 June 2008 that Hustle had been recommissioned for a fifth series with series 1–3 star, Adrian Lester returning to the show alongside Robert Glenister and Robert Vaughn.[70] Due to scheduling conflicts, Marc Warren and Jaime Murray did not feature in series five, with Matt Di Angelo and Kelly Adams joining the cast.[57]

Future[edit]

In June 2006, 20th Century Fox acquired the film rights to Hustle;[71] a film adaptation of the programme is currently being written by creator Tony Jordan, who has written several drafts but is still developing the script.[72] In February 2009, executive producer, Simon Crawford Collins stated that the movie is to be produced by a major US studio.[73]

Cast[edit]

The main cast of Hustle (series 5–8)
  • Adrian Lester as Michael "Mickey Bricks" Stone (series 1–3, 5–8[57]), the group’s leader and 'inside man'. An ambitious, intelligent and driven conman, Stone watched his father struggle to make an honest living for many years, before dying just prior to his retirement that he had looked forward to his whole life. Stone is presented as a world-renowned long-con expert with a careful eye for detail and for studiously "covering all the angles"; series 1–3 regularly contrasts this meticulous style against Danny Blue's much more laissez-faire and spontaneous approach. Several episodes reveal romantic tension between Stone and Stacie in the early series, and with Emma Kennedy in later series; it is rumoured that he and Stacie "had a thing once". Lester's departure for series four required Stone to be written out; the writers indicated that he had gone to Sydney, Australia, leading a long con to short-sell the Sydney Opera House. During the fourth series, Danny took over his vacant position as team leader. The first episode of series five indicates that the con was foiled at the last minute; Stone abandons the money, steals a Royal Navy officer's uniform, and escapes to the UK on an aircraft carrier. He regains his old position as leader after Danny's departure from the fourth series.
  • Robert Glenister as Ash "Three Socks" Morgan (series 1–8), the team's 'fixer', responsible for setting up the locations, people and items needed to convince the mark of the con's legitimacy. Morgan is portrayed as an exceptional all-round grifter who can turn his hand to any job, and is seen at various points acquiring vast amounts of foreign currency, rigging sophisticated security systems, and impersonating everyone from an oil consultant to the American ambassador to the United Kingdom. The first episode of series one introduces Morgan working 'The Flop': deliberately stepping in front of a moving car and passing off an old skull fracture obtained in a bar brawl as a fresh injury, in order to make an insurance claim. He is the only character to have appeared in every episode of the show.
  • Robert Vaughn as Albert Stroller (series 1–8), the team's 'roper', responsible for identifying and then ensnaring potential marks. A legendary, but semi-retired, 'old-school' grifter, Stroller is portrayed as a mentor and grandfather-figure to the group, of whom they are extremely protective.
  • Rob Jarvis as Eddie (series 1–8), the owner and proprietor of Eddie's Bar where the group often plan cons. Fully aware of the group and their dealings, he usually adopts a "hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil" attitude. The petty grifts played on him by the crew whenever they want to get out of paying their bar tab, make a point to someone, or are just plain bored, are a recurring theme through the series, and often serve as a Chekhov's gun for a trick which will be important later in the episode.
  • Matt Di Angelo as Sean Kennedy, and Kelly Adams as Emma Kennedy (series 5–8). Replacing the departed characters of Danny Blue and Stacie Monroe, Emma and Sean were put into foster care after their mother died. The Kennedy siblings are less-experienced grifters, and newcomers to the long con. The first episode of series five, in which Stone returns to find Albert in prison and attempts to complete a con with only a two-man team, turns out to be a setup by Albert, who has separately encouraged Sean and Emma to try and con Mickey and Ash; both groups successfully escape with each other's money, all of which turns out to be fake. Subsequent episodes focus on their development as con artists, and some back-story exposition; their father, played by Danny Webb, is the target of a gold brick scam in series six episode four, and Emma's childhood sweetheart makes an appearance in series seven episode two, played by Joe Armstrong. Their mutual protectiveness is also an occasional theme.
The main cast of Hustle (series 4)
  • Jaime Murray as Stacie Monroe (series 1–4, 8[74]). Stacie uses her sex appeal to manipulate potential marks, and in smaller short cons to raise funds for the team's activities; she is also shown acting as the team's banker. She is portrayed as extremely intelligent and an accomplished grifter, described in the first episode of series one as being "maybe even in [Michael] Stone's league". A previous romantic connection with Stone is occasionally explored; her ex-husband, a fellow short-con artist who ran away leaving her destitute, is the target of a rigged poker game in series two episode five. Written out along with Danny Blue at the end of series four, Murray agreed to reprise her role for the final episode.
  • Marc Warren as Danny Blue (series 1–4, 8[57]). Lacking a particular role within the group, Danny Blue is initially described as a 'floater', a term he abhors. A seasoned short-con artist, Danny's brash self-appointment to the group forms the overall plot arc of the first series; after proving his loyalty he is allowed to stay on and learn from Mickey, who is the "only man in London who can teach him anything". Later series explore his challenge to Stone's authority and contrast his spontaneous and self-assured grifting style with Stone's careful attention to detail. When Warren did not return to the show for the fifth series, the character was written out, staying in the United States with Stacie in order to pull off some more cons. Danny returned in the final episode of Series 8.
  • Ashley Walters as Billy Bond (series 4). Billy enters the crew in much the same way that Danny did – as a rookie, with a natural hustling instinct and a master of the short con, but with little knowledge or experience of the long con. Portrayed as an astute and likeable character despite prior involvements in drug dealing and street gangs, he knows that his inclusion within the crew is his chance to make it big. Walters did not return for the fifth series, which instead marked the return of Adrian Lester; the final whereabouts of his character are not well explained. However is suspected that he remained in the U.S.A. with Danny Blue and Stacie Monroe, but this has not been confirmed. He does not return in the last episode of Series 8 with the other two (Danny Blue and Stacie Monroe).

Reception[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

The first series of Hustle, broadcast from 24 February to 30 March 2004, attracted generally favourable reviews and audience figures. The Guardian described it as "defiantly high-concept, tightly plotted, knowing stuff... a laugh; slick, glossy, and smart certainly, but a laugh all the same",[6] and The Times remarked that it had "the snap and style of a series that has been cryogenically frozen in the 1960s and brought back to life, like The Clangers... The wonderfully absurd result is a drama series that takes itself far less seriously than almost anything since The Persuaders".[75] A later review from the same paper summarised the series as "an engaging, well-acted, snappily directed drama... sleekly edited, flatteringly lit, and stylishly executed... Will you remember a single moment of it five minutes after you’ve watched an episode? Probably not. But who cares?"[76] The first three episodes attracted an average audience of 6.2 million, peaking at over 30% of the total audience.[29]

Episode list[edit]

DVD releases[edit]

Several series of the show have been released on 2-disc DVDs in both Europe and North America. The UK, Region 2, release of Series One erroneously contained the US edited versions of the episodes, and not the full uncut episodes as originally seen on BBC One. A revised edition was released some time afterwards. The revised edition has a 15 certificate whereas the cut DVD has a PG certificate. The back of the revised case also contains the words "Each episode approx. 59 mins" under "Run Time" in the information table. The first four series have been released in Region 1 (North America), but BBC Video has yet to issue further series to DVD in that part of the world.

Individual series
Title Region 2 Release Date Region 1 Release Date Australian Release Date No. of discs BBFC Rating
Hustle Complete Series One 18 April 2005 5 September 2006 6 February 2008 2 15
Hustle Complete Series Two 19 September 2005 13 February 2007 3 April 2008 2 12
Hustle Complete Series Three 23 April 2007 10 July 2007 11 December 2008 2 15
Hustle Complete Series Four 28 April 2008 22 January 2008 2 April 2009 2 12
Hustle Complete Series Five 11 January 2010 N/A 4 March 2010 2 12
Hustle Complete Series Six 10 January 2011 N/A 8 August 2011 2 12
Hustle Complete Series Seven 9 January 2012 N/A 3 March 2012 2 15
Hustle Complete Series Eight 18 June 2012 N/A 14 November 2012 2 15
Compilations
Title Region 2 Release Date Region 1 Release Date Australian Release Date No. of discs BBFC Rating
Hustle Complete Series One to Four 28 April 2008 12 August 2008 N/A 8 15
Hustle Complete Series One to Five 11 January 2010 N/A N/A 10 15
Hustle Complete Series One to Six 10 January 2011 N/A N/A 12 15
Hustle Complete Series One to Seven 9 January 2012 N/A N/A 14 15
Hustle Complete Series One to Eight 18 June 2012 N/A 14 November 2012 16 15

References[edit]

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External links[edit]