The BBC today announced it was planning to investigate claims that parts of BBC Three telly show The Real Hustle were faked, with people being paid to act in scenes which were screened as 'reality'. The makers of the programme however, which sees the wicked ways of fraudsters exposed, dismissed the claims as rubbish.
The show sees its presenters - Jessica-Jane Clement, Paul Wilson and Alexis Conran - carry out scams on what viewers are led to believe are unsuspecting members of the public, in the hope the scenes will teach others about the ways of real criminals. Last night the programme was rocked by claims that people were being paid to take part in the show, with fees of £20 and £30 apparently given in exchanged for being filmed.
In a statement, the BBC said: "It is of paramount importance to the BBC that our audiences are not misled by the programmes we broadcast.
"We will examine any alleged breaches of our editorial standards relating to The Real Hustle as a matter of urgency and will take appropriate action if required."
Programme makers Objective Productions also released a statement which dismissed the allegations. They said: "Objective Productions categorically deny that The Real Hustle has ever briefed the 'marks' or victims of the hustles about the true nature of the scam before the event.
"All the people on the show have been hustled for real and their reactions are genuine.
"We have never employed an actor as a 'mark', briefed them in advance and asked them to fake their initial reaction to the scam."
The statement added: "Occasionally, because of, for example, equipment problems, we have had to reshoot short elements of the set-up after the hustle has been completed and that can involve giving some direction to the 'marks' to ensure that the footage matches, however it is completely untrue to say that any 'mark' was an actor who was fully briefed in advance and paid to act as though they had been hustled."
One whistle blower is quoted by The Mirror as saying: "I was brought on to improvise a sketch. I didn’t get a credit but I did get a £30 payment.”