When a group of actresses spotted an advert looking for fresh blood for a Little Britain-style comedy series, they jumped at the chance to audition. Little did the performers know they would find themselves in a casting session for pornographic films.
Those who responded to the advert were shown erotic films as examples of the kind of films that the production firm, UK Comedy Export, had made.
The actresses, who were shown steamy scenes for a "naughty but nice, adult-themed" comedy series for US audiences, have since spoken out against the production company, which now stands accused of tricking them to star in pornographic films.
UK Comedy Export originally advertised for British acting talent to star in an eight-part "adult-themed" comedy, comparing it to critically acclaimed British comedy series such as Peep Show, Star Stories and The Kevin Bishop Show.
But according to three actresses, they were asked to sign a confidentiality agreement on attending the audition, before being shown an example of the company's work which featured sexually explicit material.
One unnamed actress, who spoke to The Stage newspaper, said: "In my mind, it was hardcore pornography. To say this is comedy is just ludicrous. This would not be aired on any terrestrial channel."
Another actress said she was asked to sign a form confirming she was comfortable with "full frontal male nudity", but said she did not suspect the graphic nature of the production.
She said: "I thought they were getting us to sign this in case we, as actors, felt uncomfortable seeing the guy's front while the camera saw his back. They had planted a seed in our minds that it was like Little Britain, which does have nudity. They sold it as risque comedy, but clean at heart."
A third source revealed that the women were warned that they should not audition for the production if they wished to get involved in children's TV in the future.
Nick Coe, production manager of UK Comedy Export – which functions under the umbrella company O&C Entertainment – declined to comment on the allegations. Its website states that it only recruits actors over 18.
Martin Brown, spokesman for the acting body Equity, confirmed that the union had received a "handful" of complaints from members. "We heard that when they walked into the audition they were shown pornographic films. It must have been a very shocking and unhappy experience for many people who attended that. We have looked into it and we do not believe that they are doing anything illegal, so we don't believe that there is any potential for action to prevent them," he said.