Production Notes: The underworld is the subject of two rival television documentaries. Their producers argue that, despite the need to beat the competition, they've avoided glamorising gangsters

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Lorraine Heggessey, series producer of BBC 1's The Underworld (Wed, 9.30pm): 'I don't feel we have glamorised the underworld. That was a pitfall that I considered from day one and we've avoided it by a number of means - juxtaposing conflicting versions of a similar event which undermines the interviewees' credibility, using a commentary which shows a clear moral line and also giving the criminal enough room to hang himself: in programme 2, someone says they didn't do a murder when it is very obvious in the context that they did. Programme 2 contains particularly stomach-churning detail which I've argued very strongly within the BBC to keep. As soon as you start skirting over the horrendous facts, you run the risk of glamorisation.

'Carlton started out much after us. They actually approached a lot of the criminals we'd interviewed who rang me and asked if they could do Carlton. We hadn't tied them up exclusively, but I thought it was quite nice of them to ask.'

Simon Wells, producer of Carlton's Gangsters (today, 7.30pm): 'Undeniably these people have led lives that are eventful, but it would be difficult to see what they went through as glamorous. There is a trend for dramatic reconstruction in television at the moment, but that is a route we avoided. Ours is based largely on personal interviews, some lasted six hours - you've got people who are going very deep into themselves - and if you dramatise that material, you remove, to an extent, its relation with reality. Our intention was to secure personal testimonies, not to tell stories - the stories emerge from authentic material.

'My own view is not to worry about the opposition - you must bring in your own vision. It is easy to feel you have to compete - inevitably there were rumours about who had been interviewed by whom - and I suppose we could have discussed things with the BBC, but that assumes there's only one way of treating the material and that certainly isn't the case.'

(Photograph omitted)

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