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24 April 2014
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Backstage

Backstage

Was there inspiration from Ocean's Eleven and recent con film Confidence?

Jane: 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 looking at this area. Importantly we wanted to make something that had the energy, verve, style and pure entertainment value of those sorts of films, as well as TV like The A-Team (and actually I'd also just watched The Matrix and thought the 'time freezing' element might work for us too).

Tony took his inspiration from the world around us as well and chose targets he had a bit of an issue with - for example, banks and big business.

Simon: Certainly we received a lot of inspiration from the tradition of great American con films, epitomised by The Sting and Ocean's Eleven. The key to the enjoyment of these films is how comprehensively you side with the con men. They have good reason for what they are doing - and their victims are shown to deserve what they get. These con men have their own inviolable code of ethics and they wouldn't hesitate to put themselves in danger (or out of pocket, for that matter) rather than put an innocent person at risk.

For me, Confidence doesn't quite have the same elements of humanity and charm - you don't side with the confidence tricksters as much. It was a very clever film, but when your characters get too clever they can run the risk of being just a little too smug.

Is there a concern that Hustle might be glorifying crime?

Jane: Hustle is an entertainment show, pure and simple - it doesn't exist in an entirely real world and I think the audience are sophisticated enough to understand this.

Our team only ever target marks who are deserving because of their own greed or arrogance and I think the audience enjoy seeing them and large multi-nationals get some comeuppance now and again.

Simon: No, Hustle is a world apart from the reality of modern con men. Our characters are not in the business of tricking defenceless old grannies out of their life-savings. Indeed when they learn they might have made an error of judgement - they are mortified and swift to take action to put the natural order back to rights. The "marks" they target are given their just comeuppance.

The characters in Hustle are effectively a resurrection of the great con artists of the American depression. Their mantra was "You can't cheat an honest man".

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