Wednesday, 14 January 2009


Mickey "Bricks" Stone is back. And its about time. Back with him on BBC1 since January 8 (after a pause of almost two years) is Hustle, for a series 5 which welcomes the return of the prodigal Adrian Lester as the charismatic leader of UK's favourite con artists pack( .

Absent in series 4, Mickey escapes to Australian police after his successful "sale" of the Sydney Opera House, and finds that his crew members have parted ways.


Created in 2004 by Tony Jordan, from an idea of Bharat Nalluri, and produced by Kudos (the ITC Entertainment of the 21st century), the stylish Hustle is one of the most popular show of the "new wave" of British television series initiated after the nineties. Con artist with an ethical code (« You can't cheat an honest man ») and a professional penchant for high rollers, Mickey Stone practices his art with Ash Morgan (Robert Glenister - Philip "Gene Hunt" Glenister's brother), Stacie Monroe (Jaime Murray), Danny Blue (Marc Warren), and his mentor, Albert Stroller (Vaughn). They often devise their confidence tricks in the bar of Eddie (Rob Jarvis).

The first two seasons were delicatessen for amateurs of classy television, but the show fell into silly comedy and unnecessary escapades in America (due to a co-funding by US cable channel AMC), with glorious American television figures probably personal friends of the American co-star of the show, Mr Robert Vaughn (at his best in Hustle, his presence in United Kingdom being a real treat for fans of The Protectors).

The fourth series, without Mickey (and Lester, gone on other projects), focused on Danny as the would be team leader and Albert as the real one, and Hustle went close to become the Beeb's equivalent of Midsomer Murders: a postcard cliché customized for North American market. But America has its own Hustle, Leverage, on TNT (1).


After a long break, Hustle starts practically from scratch with this series 5. Adrian Lester returns after the embarassing Bonekickers (2) (thank God, a second season of this DaVinci Code/dinosaurless Primeval wannabe will not be commissioned), gone are Marc Warren and Jaime Murray, idem for Ashley Walters (Billy Bond in series 4), and two new cast members - Kelly Adams (Holby City, Robin Hood) and Matt Di Angelo (EastEnders) arrive.

The theme intro by Simon Rogers has been rearranged (if it ain't broke, why fix it?) The redesigned titles, by Berger & Wyse (, are really fantastic. Tony Jordan sets his reborn Hustle in a credit crunched London, back to the social subtext of the beginning of the series. The perennial Hustle scheme in the City takes a new dimension in a post-Bernie Madoff world.

What happens in London must stay in London... The first episode of series 5, guest starring comedian Bill Bailey, won nearly 6 million viewers, beating ITV ( And it's not a con.

(1) (Brilliant review by Aaron Barnhart, special mention for the reference to Thief, Heist and Smith).


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