Eight years of brilliance

Now that the BBC have closed the Hustle curtains, I thought it was due a blog entry. From 2004 until 2012, I have followed the Hustle crew and been with them through good times and bad. For the first three series, the crew comprised Mickey Bricks (Adrian Lester), Ash Morgan (Robert Glenister), Albert Stroller (Robert Vaughn), Stacey Monroe (Jaime Murray) and Danny Blue (Marc Warren), and this was the time I fell completely in love with them all. The fourth series was missing Mickey, because Adrian Lester was working on another project, so the crew was led by Danny, and Billy Bond (Ashley Walters) joined them for this season. By the fifth season, Jaime Murray and Marc Warren had been snapped up for other projects, but Albert, who was inside at the time, spotted the not-so-latent talents of brother and sister team Emma and Sean Kennedy (Kelly Adams and Matt di Angelo), had them scam the crew and the crew scam them and by doing so, set them up to work together. So, once they’d scammed Albert out of jail, they were five again.

This new team worked very well. Often, these things fall a bit flat, but the quality of the writing, as well as the acting and the chemistry of the team, meant that it worked just as well as the original line-up. Some say better – I say… on a level. Because I love all the members of the team, including, of course, Eddie the barman (Rob Jarvis), butt of many jokes and always there when they need a drink and an office space (his bar in the City).

The final episode of season 8, which aired on the 17th of February, was bloody amazing. Written, of course, by series creator Tony Jordan (who else?), I knew it was going to be good. That evening, I was at Laz’s place and we sat and watched it together. He’d been forewarned – I was very likely to cry and I was very likely to scream. (In the event, I did both.)

At the end of episode 5, there was a hint of what was to come for the final one – would it end in blood? Or victory? And it was also made known that Jaime Murray would be coming back for this final farewell, reprising her role as Stacey. The team showed their brilliance as con artists perfectly, when Stacey walked into the room with her ‘client’ to meet the team – the only display of any shock was a slight hesitancy, and Ash dropped his coffee on the desk. They all fell into their roles as professionally as they ever did – to be a good con artist, you need to be a quick thinker, and by quick, that means lightning speed, or you could be in trouble.

I shan’t give away the plot – if you haven’t had a chance to see it yet, it would ruin it. But as I watched it again today, knowing what was happening, spotting all the clues that were scattered throughout the episode, instead of screaming when another long-lost member of the old crew returned (as happened the first time), I started to laugh and cry at the same time. Another point the waterworks started was when Emma spoke honestly to Mickey about this final score – the quality of acting from Kelly Adams showed a deep understanding of the character she’s been playing for the last four seasons, and it was just spectacular. If every actor could be like her, British drama would command far more respect. She played a blinder and, at that moment, she wasn’t just playing Emma – she was Emma.

When season 8 is released on DVD, I’ll get it, and my collection will be complete. I’ll have 48 hours of Hustle, over eight series of six hours each. It’s a heavenly thought. But I’ll miss our merry band of tricksters. They’ve become like friends to me over the last eight years, and saying goodbye is hard. But they’ll always be there for me when I need them. That’s what friends are for.

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