New BBC drama The Gold tells a fascinating story that's so extraordinary it's hard to believe it's true – but it is.


The series dramatises the 1980s Brink's Mat robbery, which saw half a dozen thieves break into the Brink’s-Mat depot near London’s Heathrow Airport and stumble upon gold bullion worth £26 million, carrying out a robbery that has since become a seminal event in British criminal history.

The series depicts the events of the crime, following the cat-and-mouse chase between the robbers and the special task force trying to catch them, as well as exploring its far-reaching consequences

There's one question that might have you scratching your head if you've reached the end of The Gold: how on earth did the culprits convert the stolen bars into cold hard cash without immediate arrest?

If you’re wondering what happened to the Brink’s-Mat gold, and how the robbers executed the scheme so that the stolen gold was never recovered while their pockets grew deeper in the BBC drama, read on to find out.

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What happened to the Brink's-Mat gold in BBC drama?

Nicki Jennings walking at pace past a car and several male colleagues
Charlotte Spencer as Nikki Jennings in The Gold.
  1. First things first, scrub the serial numbers from the gold bars using a portable smelter.
  2. Purchase more gold legitimately and keep the receipts – merchant John Palmer puts out a TV advert asking people to sell him their gold. If they're stopped by the police, they have documents to back up their seemingly lawful enterprise.
  3. Transport the Brink's-Mat gold in small batches to John, who mixes it with the gold he's acquired legally. But that's not sufficient. It's impossible to disguise it as scrap jewellery because it's too pure.
  4. To get around that, they contact a registered gold importer – "someone they can coerce" – who can produce fake documentation paperwork.
  5. The gold can then be certified for sale by an assay - a company which measures the purity of gold and has the power to give it the official seal of approval. "If it's gold, they sign it off."
  6. The gold merchant can then take the stolen gold, now disguised as a legitimate product, and sell it to a bullion wholesaler – there are four in the UK, one of which is Johnson Matthey, the owner of the stolen product. They're none the wiser about buying back their own gold. Those wholesalers also supply every jeweller in Britain, which explains how so many products came to contain the Brink's-Mat gold.
  7. The merchant receives money from the sale of the gold. "If this country had proper banking laws, a bank branch suddenly seeing a company earning vast amounts of money and withdrawing it in cash, they might tell someone about it. But we don't, so they wont." The merchant takes their cut and the rest is paid into a bank account set up in Europe.
  8. That money is then invested in a company which uses the capital to invest in property and other ventures.
  9. Over time, those processes become swifter and more streamlined until both the gold and the money disappear, "like it never happened".

Read more:

The Gold is available to stream now on BBC iPlayer. The Gold: The Real Story Behind Brink’s-Mat: Britain’s Biggest Heist by Neil Forsyth and Thomas Turner is available to pre-order now.

Check out more of our Drama coverage or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to see what's on tonight.


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