Broadchurch writer lands Jim Broadbent for BBC Great Train Robbery drama

The Oscar winner will play detective Tommy Butler in Chris Chibnall's A Copper's Tale

Fresh from his success with ITV’s Broadchruch, writer Chris Chibnall has landed himself Oscar winner Jim Broadbent to play the lead in the second of two BBC1 films dramatising historic heist, the Great Train Robbery.


Broadbent, who won an Oscar in 2001 for his performance in Iris, will play Tommy Butler, the detective charged with tracking down robbers in A Copper’s Tale. Other members of the “dream cast” include Robert Glenister, Tim Pigott-Smith and James Fox.

Unlike ITV’s Mrs Biggs, which focused on life on the run for Ronnie Biggs’ wife, Charmian Biggs, The Great Train Robbery will be, first, focusing on the heist from the perspective of the gang who targeted a mail train in August 1963 and escaped with a haul of £2.6 million and then from the perspective of the police.

The first episode, A Robber’s Tale, begins with an earlier robbery at Heathrow Airport in 1962 and shows how the train heist was planned, rehearsed and executed, from the view of Bruce Reynolds, who died this year at the age of 81 and is played by Hollywodd star Luke Evans.

Broadbent said of the role: “I’m thrilled to be part the Great Train Robbery film. I have such strong memories of the massive impact of the actual robbery and it is wonderful to find out from the script so much of the real story. Tommy Butler is a fascinating copper of the old school and I anticipate great fun playing him.”

Executive producer and writer Chibnall, said: “I’ve enviously watched Jim’s work on other writers’ scripts for years and I have to keep pinching myself that he’ll be bringing Tommy Butler to life in A Copper’s Tale.”


Both The Great Train Robbery films are expected to air later this year.