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The TV series Underbelly has been criticised for using drug addicts and former criminals as extras on the show, 7News has exclusively reported.

According to 7News an Underbelly actor died from a drug overdose after working on the show. Danny Tillott had reportedly left jail months before he started his career as an actor on the show, passing away at age 42 before his scenes could go to air.

Another Underbelly actor is said to have been admitted into psychiatric care after his involvement with the series, says 7News.

Mental health experts and doctors who treat addiction, say acting in Underbelly's nefarious roles that revolve around drugs and violence, could trigger a relapse in former "users".

"Re-engaging in things like mimicking drug addiction or criminal behaviour would certainly be a real trigger." says James Pitts, Odyssey House which provide rehabilitation programs for drug and alcohol misuse.

"It's putting people who were trying to make a break with their previous life right back in the situation they were trying to escape from." says Dr Alex Wodak, the director of St Vincent's drug and alcohol services.

A boutique actor's agency Knockabouts has reportedly provided the Underbelly with recovering addicts and authentic underworld hard men to fill roles in the crime story show.

The Knockabouts website says it provides the TV and film industry with Australia's "most wanted" actors extras for film, TV walk-ons, videos, photo shoots, advertising and PR.

Brian Dunbar, founder of Knockabouts, is a reformed "ex-con" who started the agency after achieving his own acting break in Underbelly and discovering a niche for authentic underworld characters.

Dunbar says his agency is good for the industry because it provides authentic characters.

In response to the death of one of his actors after working with Underbelly Dunbar says, "Danny was a sad loss to Knockabouts because you know he had the X-Factor."

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