Crimewatch Goes On The Hunt… For Actors

Farce, it seems, has escaped the bounds of 19th Century French drama and invaded the real world. In a corker of a blunder, the Metropolitan police last week released a number of mugshots purporting to show the hooligans responsible for the violence at West Ham’s Upton Park ground in August. Evidently, the fine boys at the Met are too busy catching ne’er-do-wells to go the movies, as six of the photos they released were not, alas, of suede-headed louts but actors appearing in the 2009 remake of hooligan film The Firm.

Pretty bad in itself, I should say – fact-checking is evidently a lost art. But at least, say, the whole sorry gaffe wasn’t picked up by a certain po-faced crim-wary TV show, or a national paper. That would be stretching credibility too far, and surely the BBC and The Sun are too smart to just blindly take what they’re given and run with it?

Well yes, it is, and actually, no, they’re not.

There’s been red faces, hand-wringing, finger-pointing and spurious apologies all round. I’m not sure what’s worse here – the fact that the Met are evidently getting their mugshots by typing “West Ham Yobbo” into Google images or the fact that Crimewatch and The Sun are either too overworked or too lazy to double check their sources. Throw in the fact that the Met’s credibility has taken a bovver-booted beating and that this kind of screw-up could jeapordize the apprehension of the actual culprits and you’ve got a pretty sorry situation all round. Amusing, sure – but also sorry. Moliere would be proud.

The original Firm debuted on the BBC in 1988 and starred Gary Oldman, and was praised and condemned in equal measure for its portrayal of the violence surrounding the culture of football hooliganism at West Ham. Nick Lowe’s 2009 version was released in September to generally positive reviews.

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