Saturday, 12 February 2011


Hustle - Series seven, Episode five. Ash Morgan is outraged to learn that Railton, his old football club has gone into administration, brought down by the greed of football agent and businessman Don Coleman. Coleman is the perfect mark for the gang but the plan is put in jeopardy by a little accident with an unexpected effect.

It's pure chance and a little irony that BBC One's hit con artist drama is back with a football themed episode after one week off because of rugby. But it's nice to see Hustle back in shape after a disappointing story with Denis Lawson as the character you expected him to play.

« Football is our game and I want it back! »

You know right from the pre-credit sequence if Hustle can deliver the goods or will fail. And Ash's inspired diatribe against what is wrong in contemporary football sets the tone for the rest of yesterday's episode, written by Chris Lang. The football biz is a dreamy invitation to social satire and Lang's jokes, references (Asda Price, Michelle Heaton...) or views are often spot on: the bit on sexist football has a peculiar echo, thanks to recent news about two former Sky football pundits.

Guest star David Harewood as agent Don Coleman absolutely deserves his own spinoff a la HBO's Arli$$ - think of it, BBC... Mickey (Adrian Lester) has a fabulous "stadium inspection" scene and it's a commonplace to tell how Robert Glenister is brilliant as Ash and should already have a drama of his own. Too bad Chris Lang feels the need to introduce this Liar Liar syndrome thing which recalls the darkest hours of series three and four. More of this and the next step would be a BBC America co-production with one episode filmed in LA and Larry Hagman as a mark.

Like New Tricks (another gem of the BBC) Hustle is more and more a cocktail with three thirds: one third pure genius, one third "easy watching" and one third weak. As long as it doesn't morph into self-parody the con will still be on.

The episode was directed by Colin Teague.

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