“That was the moment we just thought, ‘This is never going to make it,'” admits Jeff Pope, writer and executive producer of Hatton Garden. ITV had just been forced to pull his show from television schedules yet again thanks to a last-minute legal issue; it seemed the much-delayed heist drama might never make it to our screens.
But after two postponements, the drama has a new slot in May 2019 – and the legal developments that have held it up for the last 18 months are finally “done and dusted.”
Hatton Garden, a four-part drama based on the real-life story of a group of elderly burglars and their multi-million-pound raid on a safe deposit facility in London’s jewellery quarter, was originally set to air in December 2017 when it was suddenly postponed; it was rescheduled the following year, and then pulled a second time.
A police officer emerges from a Hatton Garden safe deposit centre on April 7, 2015 (Getty)
One of the burglars, Terry Perkins (played on screen by Timothy Spall), had plead guilty to the Hatton Garden burglary in 2016 and already been jailed for his part, but just as the ITV drama neared its first air date in late 2017, further legal charges were brought against Perkins.
“He was charged with another robbery, completely unconnected to Hatton Garden,” explains Pope. “And the trial was due, and if there had been a four-hour drama saying, ‘Terry Perkins is a burglar,’ then he wouldn’t have been able to have a fair trial. So, we had to pull it.”
It was unfortunate timing for the team behind the ITV drama.
“Nothing we could do about it,” the writer explained at a screening in London. “There was a trial that this could have prejudiced, and then poor old Terry Perkins passed away, and that receded. And then just as we were about to transmit again, they caught the elusive Basil. So, again we had to spike it. But now everything’s done and dusted.”
“Basil” – an alarms specialist – was the last suspect in the Hatton Garden heist to be caught by police. He turned out to be a 58-year-old man named Michael Seed from Islington, and his trial date was set for early 2019; that meant another long wait before ITV’s drama could be aired on TV.
“It was just so painful,” Pope said. As Seed came to trial, the future of the drama hung in the balance. A not guilty verdict would have been okay as the TV version only identifies this character as “Basil” (his real identity was not known until his arrest), and a verdict of guilty also posed no problem. But, as Pope explained, “The thing we were scared of was a mistrial, if there was no verdict… whichever way, we needed a decision in order to transmit.”
Thankfully, the trial was conclusive; Michael Seed was convicted and jailed for ten years in March 2019. And with that, the way was finally clear for a transmission in May 2019.
Third time lucky, we hope…
Hatton Garden will air on ITV in May 2019