Pink Mousey - Live the Dream
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|Hustle's exec producer talks series six|
Hustle's much-delayed fifth series came to a close last night - but fans can rest easy in the knowledge that a sixth series is already in the pipeline. We spoke to exec producer Simon Crawford Collins, also director of drama at Kudos (Spooks, Hustle), to find out more.
Did you expect to get a sixth series pickup so soon?
"We were always hopeful. But no, 'expecting' would be too confident. We lived in hope!"
There was quite a long gap between series four and five last time. Why was that?
"That was really because we were deciding what we wanted to do taking Hustle forward. We liaised really heavily with Jane Tranter at the BBC. The BBC was very keen to keep it going for a number of years, but there were issues over which cast members would sign up for enough years in the future. We'd also very much missed Adrian [Lester] in the show, so when the show he'd been attached to in the States didn't get picked up, he became available. So it was a combination of factors. Everything sort of came together and we all decided to go for it."
Coming into series five there were a couple cast changes. Were you nervous over how the audience would take to them?
"Yes, we're always nervous when there's a big cast change. We've had numbers of them on Spooks in the past! We were hopeful that it would be well-received because series four without Adrian worked well, but also we knew that Adrian was such a popular draw, so his return felt like a very positive factor. We knew so much rested on the two actors that we could find for the two new characters, we were just delighted when we found Kelly and Matt. Once they were in place we were confident, but until we found them we were very nervous."
So who will be in the gang in series six?
"All our familiar faces - is the plan. Providing all that works out and everyone is available to do it, which looks likely, then they will all be back."
Could Danny and Stacie come back?
"We're certainly not ruling anything out. Obviously Marc and Jaime are fantastic actors and I'm sure if the right opportunity came up to get them back that they were both excited about, they'd love to do it. Jaime's permanently based in the States now, so we'd have to give her a bit of notice. But Danny and Stacie are very much still alive and as you know, they were mentioned in the last series - they're still grifting as far as we're concerned. So yes, we'd love to see them back at some point but there are no immediate plans for that."
What happened to Billy from series four?
"Ashley was an absolutely brilliant actor and if Marc and Jaime had been around and on for doing many more series in the future, we'd have probably kept that pattern together, which worked fantastically well. With Adrian's return and the shakeup of the team, we felt the dynamic needed to be different and we really wanted to bring in a brother-sister team, so it felt like we should go on a different route. Sadly that was the situation but it was a joy to have Ashley in that role."
What's the reason behind the series length? Six episodes doesn't quite seem enough.
"I love the thought that six episodes is not enough! When we started making Hustle, six was the absolute norm on British television. But we find it works well for us and the BBC. I'll be honest, the Hustle scripts are incredibly complicated to work out. It takes every ounce of our energy to get six devised in a year. The idea of doing eight or ten fills me slightly with fear! But we would be up for the challenge if the BBC asked us to. Also Tony Jordan tends to write at least three of the scripts every year, and he's such a genius at it that I would be hesitant to dilute his contribution to the show. Having said that we found a really good new crop of writers in series five who will hopefully return. In the current climate generally order numbers aren't increasing, it's the other way round. We shall be very happy with our six eps!"
Have you had any early thoughts about stories for series six?
"We're at that stage now. Thoughts are in hand. I think the world at the moment provides a lot of opportunity for our grifters. It's tough times out there and I think people are rather enjoying the fact that the grifters give people who've had it a little bit easy in the last few years their comeuppance."
Has the commission of a sixth series affected development of Hustle: The Movie?
"No, not at all. It's completely different. We're making that for a US studio so their demands to rewrite things don't change because of our series. It just means Tony has a few more late nights! It is a challenge, but he's written some fantastic drafts. There have been quite a few changes of personnel at the US studios since the project started and people wanted it taken in different directions, so there have been a lot of rewrites - not for quality, but for taste. That is quite a drain on Tony but ultimately that's the name of the game when it comes to movies."
Finally, as far as series six goes, what's the production timeline from hereonin?
"Basically we are starting on the scripts now, we will be shooting it through the summer and into autumn, with the aim to have it back on screens at the start of next year!"
Posted Friday, February 13 at 16:29 by Neil