Friday, 23 July 2010


[14.37 - French Time] Filming has begun on the seventh series of Hustle.

Original cast members Adrian Lester (Mickey 'Bricks' Stone), Robert Glenister (Ash Morgan) and Robert Vaughn (Albert Stroller) return. Kelly Adams and Matt Di Angelo, onboard since the fifth series of BBC One's hit show, are back too as brother and sister duo Emma and Sean Kennedy.

Series five brought Hustle back on tracks with brilliance after two awfully forgettable series and a pause of almost two years. Series six relocated the con artist drama to Birmingham in order to contain production costs and receive welcome subventions, thanks to a deal with Screen West Midlands. But what could have been narratively interesting became very quickly a weakness, the gang's playground remaining firmly set in London.

Some local taxpayers considered that the £400,000 invested for the relocation of Hustle did not contribute to the promotion of Birmingham and West Midlands ( To which a spokeswoman of Screen WM answered that Hustle would bring £1.2m into the region’s economy. This year Suzie Norton, CEO of Screen West Midlands, explains that Hustle's return means further employment opportunities for local crew and an extra boost for the local economy.

And series seven includes an episode set in Birmingham. But will it be enough to erase that "Monty Berman/ITC" feeling of the previous series and its shots of the Gherkin and Westminster almost screaming "Hey, we're in London". Six-episode Hustle series six clearly suffered from budget issues, with three hits, two misses and an average finale, for a show whose concept should remain the absolute antithesis to the idea of budget shortage.

Scriptwriter Chris Bucknall, who wrote an elegant Mission: Impossible caper episode last year, is back. Other episodes are written by Chris Lang, James Payne and of course Hustle supremo Tony Jordan. Hustle is a Kudos Film and Television production in association with Red Planet Pictures for the BBC (with the support of Screen WM).

In February we wrote: « Should Hustle series 7 be shot in South Africa that would even not surprise in these recession times ». Outcasts, a Kudos drama due to be aired by BBC One, is filmed there but Hustle stays in Birmingham (with some sequences shot in London). Budgets cuts unfortunately begin to show in recent BBC dramas.

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