Train Robbery drama adaptions’ details announced

Ben Stephenson, BBC Drama

Details of the two productions concerning the Great Train Robbery from the BBC have been revealed. A Robber’s Tale will be directed by Julian Jarrold and tells the story of the gang whose audacious crime secured unheard-of wealth and the wrath of the establishment while A Copper’s Tale will be directed by James Strong and follows the tale of Tommy Butler and the crack team of detectives he assembled in his relentless quest to ring the robbers to justice.

Luke Evans of The Three Musketeers fame joins Bedlam’s Jack Roth, Utopia actor Neil Maskell, Paul Anderson of The Sweeney, Monarch of the Glen’s Martin Compston, Del Synnott from Murphy’s Law and Jack Gordon of Panic Button fame have been cast to star in the dramatisation of Chris Chibnall’s The Great Train Robbery, based on the real life event.

Ben Stephenson, (pictured) Controller of BBC Drama, says: “In the first of two films, Chris Chibnall’s unique drama about morality sees the infamous crime from the view of Bruce Reynolds and his gang – this is a stellar cast who will bring this notorious story to life in a surprising and revelatory way.”

This is the story of the key men, led by Bruce Reynolds (Evans), who died last week, and their heist. Told from the perspective of the Reynolds, it details how a group of criminals teamed together with a corrupt solicitor to pull off a major theft that baffled and frustrated the police.

Starting from November 1962 and going through to the night of 8 August 1963 and its immediate aftermath, the first film tells the story of how the robbery was inspired, planned, rehearsed and executed. Beginning with a daring earlier robbery at Heathrow Airport, the film depicts how leader Bruce Reynolds led and strengthened that team to target the August Bank Holiday 1963 mail train from Glasgow.

The core team consisted of Reynolds’ childhood friend Charlie Wilson (Roth), ambitious Ronald ‘Buster’ Edwards (Maskell) and professional Gordon Goody (Anderson), with Brian Field (Synnott) being the key link between the robbers and the informant. Budding racing driver Roy James (Compston) was brought in as the getaway driver and Ronnie Biggs (Gordon) was later recruited to find the replacement train driver.

Writer/Executive Producer Chris Chibnall says: “The Great Train Robbery has passed into modern folklore. How fantastic that such a magnificent bunch of talented young stars have come together for our first film, to tell how one gang planned – and almost got away with – the British Crime of the Century.”

The second production of the The Great Train Robbery strand, A Copper’s Tale, will be directed by James Strong and tells the story of Tommy Butler and the crack team of detectives he assembled in his relentless quest to ring the robbers to justice.

The Great Train Robbery is a two part mini-series written by Chris Chibnall and starts filming in March. Executive producers are Simon Heath for World Productions and Polly Hill for the BBC. Julia Stannard  is the producer of the 90 minute dramas.

[Reported by Neil Lang]