Breezy style helps draw in viewers
T’S called the long con – an extended bit of trickery and deception that aims to put one over your target. However, the makers of UK crime caper Hustle have been engaging in a different kind of long con, for years drawing in viewers with tales of grifters and scammers who use their illegal talents to rip off marks who really had it coming.
In Australia, ABC1 is now airing the seventh season of Hustle whose creator, Tony Jordan, reveals some tricks of the series’ trade. I’ve heard you refer to con artists as the aristocracy of crime. Does having these smart, elegant crooks make things easier for you as a storyteller?
In the early days, when we were pitching Hustle, we were asked some very valid questions: ‘‘Why would we be cheering for these guys? They’re criminals, basically’’. The answer to that, and something we always ensured we did with the stories, was to make the mark someone you’d want to go after yourself. We’ve had our marks be bankers, politicians, advertising agencies – people many members of society don’t have a lot of respect for because they’re charlatans. The con only works if the mark is greedy, so the hustler might bring about their downfall or destruction, but these people have brought it on themselves.
is kind of light in that respect. It’s a drama but it’s not dark or gritty.
Yeah, I think that kind of thing is bollocks. Making a drama doesn’t necessarily equal making people miserable. I think you misjudge the audience if you think that way. There is of course some remarkable, outstanding drama that is a bit grim and a bit hard to watch at times, but you can’t say that’s the only way to make good drama. There are plenty of medical dramas out there you think you have to watch because they’re apparently so good for you. There must be only so many cons the crew can pull. Does spending so many seasons with these characters, and
You do get to know the characters better, almost inside out, the longer you spend with them and the actors do as well. What’s tougher is finding stories for them to work within. Sometimes we’ll tell the same story more than once, but find a new way to explore it. The show is an ensemble character piece rather than a con-of-the-week sort of thing.
It’s the sign of a good show, one with creative integrity and a strong heart, that it can be about the group rather than individuals. People thought it might be the end when Adrian Lester (as Mickey Stone) left, but Marc Warren (as Danny Blue) took the lead and he was great. It didn’t end the show when Marc and Jaime Murray (as Stacie Monroe) left either. The only person I’d struggle to do the show without would be Robert Glenister as Ash Morgan – he’s kind of like the engine room. I’ve always seen him as the hub – as Hustle’s wheel. Even if you brought in another actor, I think it’d be hard to replace Robert Glenister. Is there a character that’s the most like you?
Stacie (Jaime Murray) is my cross-dressing side . . . You could do worse than looking like Jaime Murray if you dressed in drag, Tony!
I think there was a bit of me in Danny Blue when I started. I’ve always had that irreverent streak, as far back as when I was at school. So mostly Danny, I’d say. I like to think I’m as smart as Mickey, but I’m not.
Saturdays, 9.20pm, ABC1
introducing the odd new one, help keep things fresh?