The BBC today responded to allegations that The Real Hustle a show about conmen had attempted to fool viewers by using actors instead of members of the public. ‘The show intends to show the public how frauds work. Well, this is how frauds work,’ said Dawn Garnet, BBC3 Head of Light Froth, before adding with an eye roll, ‘Sheesh’.
Outcry over the allegations has led to twos of people jamming the BBC Switchboard demanding to know if other BBC shows are faking it, such as whether Patsy Kensit is indeed a fully qualified healthcare professional. Brian Porteous, a credulous lunk from Romford, told the Mail on Sunday: ‘BBC lies… make brain hurt.’
‘The Real Hustle might be real although viewers think it’s fake, and Hustle is fake despite people thinking it might be real,’ explained Garnet. ‘The problem is that Hustle is so convincing, people actually think Robert Vaughan is in it, when in fact he’s simply a hand inside a brown paper bag with a face and eyes drawn on it.’
Baz Dalyrymple, TV correspondent at the Mail on Sunday, which broke the story, said: ‘When BBC 3 viewers squat down to watch these kind of shows, they like to fantasise that they themselves could successfully ‘hustle’ a ‘mark’ simply by using a jacket with pockets, hand-drawn £20 notes and a fake office block complete with dummy cash machine.
‘If it turns out this is all just a lark with actors instead of real chumps then there is every chance that when viewers attempt to emulate these scams they will be banged up in the clink, and have their dirtbox ravaged by a large chap called Darren.’
The success of both Hustle and The Real Hustle has led to BBC bosses to plan further spin-offs including The Unreal Hustle in which the conmen are ghosts (although probably they’re not) and The Surreal Hustle in which a large ham sandwich attempts to convince members of the public it’s coronation chicken.