Entertainment & Arts

The Real Hustle 'must be clearer'

The Real Hustle
Image caption Alexis Conran, Jessica-Jane Clement and Paul Wilson star in The Real Hustle

BBC series The Real Hustle must be clearer over which of its participants are in on the scams featured on the show, the BBC Trust has said.

The Trust investigated the show after two newspapers alleged actors had been hired to pose as members of the public.

It found the allegations were based on "fundamental misunderstandings" about how the programme was made.

However The Trust concluded there was "a lack of clarity" which "created unnecessary confusion".

The BBC Three programme features a team who con members of the public in order to show viewers how frauds work.

Objective Productions, which makes the show for the BBC, said it "categorically" denied claims in the Mail on Sunday and Sunday Mirror that the "victims" from episodes broadcast in a 2006 series had been briefed.

In its report, The Trust said people had been recruited to take part in the show through websites "popular with people keen to appear on television".

Some participants had previously worked as actors or extras, but none of them had been hired to work as an actor on the show, nor did they know what programme they were applying for.

It added it accepted participants "were not aware that they were being 'conned' whilst they were being filmed".

However The Trust concluded that in two out of the six scams it analysed, viewers could have been confused about who knew about the con after those taking part let on to others what was going on.

The Editorial Standards Committee (ESC) has identified a breach of the BBC Editorial Guidelines which states: "Our output must be... presented in clear, precise language".

But it added it was not a serious breach.

The ESC said the programme should in future be clear to audiences how each participant was involved and which was the "mark" (the victim) and who was set up if necessary.

It agreed with the BBC's proposal that people who are filmed as marks in future should confirm afterwards they were not aware of the scam.

And it added episodes featuring the scams investigated by Trust should not be rebroadcast.

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