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The Gold, BBC One review - gripping dramatisation of the 1983 Brink's-Mat bullion robbery | reviews, news & interviews

The Gold, BBC One review - gripping dramatisation of the 1983 Brink's-Mat bullion robbery

The Gold, BBC One review - gripping dramatisation of the 1983 Brink's-Mat bullion robbery

You can't always tell the difference between the police and the thieves

Honest copper? Hugh Bonneville as DCS Brian Boyce

The raid on the Brink’s-Mat warehouse at Heathrow in November 1983 has entered the folklore of British crime and criminology. The gang of six armed robbers had expected to find £3m in cash, but instead got away with £26m worth of gold bullion. The story of what happened to the loot, the thieves and their associates remains at least partially swathed in mystery to this day.

There has been a variety of dramas and documentaries made about the case, but The Gold, a six-part drama authored by Neil Forsyth, uses the story to create a fascinating, interlocking mesh of characters and motivations. Top of the bill is Hugh Bonneville as DCS Brian Boyce, in charge of the Scotland Yard task force investigating the robbery. An Army veteran who battled EOKA terrorists in Cyprus, Boyce is methodical, conscientious and determined, and we gather that he might have preferred to stay in the Army except that “I had the ability but not the breeding” to become an officer.

The Gold, BBC OneThis is just one among many signifiers of class warfare that Forsyth has built into his narrative, though whether he over-eggs this particular aspect of the pudding, as if social inequality is the indisputable source of all crime, is a moot point. Episode six, for instance, kicks off with an angry tirade in which a football match between Arsenal and Millwall becomes a microcosm of how the Establishment (Arsenal) always loads the dice to ensure that the proletariat (Millwall) never win.

Elsewhere the messaging is more subtle. Gangland fixer Gordon Parry (a mesmerisingly sinister Sean Harris) takes money-laundering lawyer Edwyn Cooper (Dominic Cooper, pictured above with Harris) down to gaze across moody Thames marshland, as he explains how his father used to work as a docker, but now he and his associates have amassed a property empire by buying up chunks of the old docks. For his part, Cooper has clawed his way up the legal ladder and built up a prestigious reputation, but the price of his social-climbing obsession to escape his impoverished South London background is the collapse of his marriage to Isabelle (Ruth Bradley), a wealthy trophy wife who is an abused pawn in his game.

What Forsyth – with directors Aneil Karia and Lawrence Gough – has accomplished particularly well is to depict the way seemingly conflicting interests and aspirations are irrevocably entwined. Boyce talks about how he’s having to battle against “systems” to bring the bullion robbers to justice. He’s referring to the old-established criminal networks of South London who he knows are behind the robbery, but he’s also thinking about the way the police have been suborned from within, and will close ranks against his investigation. He tells his officers not to share any information with the Kent police, for instance, because he knows they’re compromised by criminal moles. One of the key players in the saga is DI Neville Carter (Sean Gilder), a smoothly ingratiating veteran who’s up to his neck in masonry and backhanders and operates on both sides of the lawful line. Nicholas Farrell delivers a polished cameo as a suave, treacherous lawyer.

The Gold, BBC One“Every cop is a criminal,” as Mick Jagger sang, and watching The Gold you can certainly believe it’s possible. Flying Squad officer Nicki Jennings (Charlotte Spencer, pictured right with Emun Elliott as Tony Brightwell) understands the lie of the land all too well, being the daughter of an old Rotherhithe villain (a very wheezy Danny Webb). She’s broken the code she was brought up with by joining the force, and her father faces ostracism from his old tribe as a consequence.

The Gold is peppered with excellent performances at every level. There’s a splendid little turn by Daniel Ings as Archie Osborne, an eccentric but brilliantly insightful Customs & Excise man working on Boyce’s team, while Jack Lowden brings an icy superciliousness to his portrayal of bullion-shifting kingpin Kenneth Noye. Stefanie Martini’s Marnie Palmer expresses the frustration and insecurity of trying to be a wife and mother while her husband John (Tom Cullen) is trapped in the coils of the stolen gold brouhaha. Mind how you go.

Comments

Thank you BBC, absolutely brilliant! Captivated from start to finish, superb cast - absolute gold. It’s what l pay my license for - the best. More of the same please.

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