Is The Gold a true story?
BBC One drama The Gold stars Hugh Bonneville and Jack Lowden - but is it based on a true story?
BBC One’s latest crime drama, The Gold, tells a story so remarkable it’s hard to believe it’s true.
But it is. The six-part series dramatises the real-life Brink’s-Mat robbery, which saw a gang of thieves break into a security depot and inadvertently stumble upon £26 million in gold bullion, as well as exploring its far-reaching consequences, not just for the individuals involved but the entire British criminal underworld.
The Gold stars various fames faces including Hugh Bonneville, Jack Lowden and Dominic Cooper as the real-life figures, many of whom are still around today to experience the crime's extensive ripple effects.
The BBC drama might be based on a real historical event, but how much of the series is actually accurate? Read on for everything you need to know about the true story behind The Gold.
Is The Gold based on a true story?
It is. The Gold is based on the true story of the Brink's-Mat robbery, which took place on 26th November 1983.
It saw six armed men break into the Brink’s-Mat security depot near London’s Heathrow Airport, and inadvertently stumble across £26 million worth of gold bullion.
It was, at the time, the biggest theft in global history, and the disposal of the bullion caused the birth of large-scale international money laundering and provided the dirty money that helped fuel the London Docklands property boom.
The series was inspired by a combination of extensive research into the robbery and the subsequent events and interviews with some of those involved, including Brian Boyce, who is played in the series by Hugh Bonneville.
At the start of the series a message on the screen notes that "if you have bought gold jewellery in Britain since 1984, it is likely to contain traces of the Brink's-Mat gold".
How accurate is The Gold TV series?
Like with many real-life dramas, The Gold is comprised of both material directly drawn from research and some added in and changed for dramatic purposes.
It makes this clear at the start of the very first episode, saying: "Some characters and elements have been created or changed for dramatic purposes."
The series has been written by Neil Forsyth, who also previously wrote a book on the subject with Thomas Turner.
Speaking at a recent Q&A for the series, Forsyth was asked why he is so drawn to this story. He said that this was partly because it's a "famous story but also unknown in some ways".
He explained: "A lot of people will remember the robbery, but I don't think many people know what came next. Which is quite liberating as a writer. If you're working off real events, you can still create a television show and you're not gonna get letters from people saying the character’s driving the wrong car. So you still feel you're creating something."
He also said that when writing he was aware not to "overuse" creative licence, although there certainly are elements which have been altered for the drama.
For instance, some of the characters' names have been changed or they have been written as a composite of multiple real-life people. One of these is Charlotte Spencer's police officer character Nicki Jennings, who has been based on three women that were involved in the case.
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Meanwhile, Dominic Cooper's character Edwyn Cooper appears to have been based on real-life figure Michael Relton, a solicitor who was convicted of helping to launder proceeds from the robbery. Characters such as Brian Boyce and Kenneth Noye are both real-life individuals who are still alive today.
Boyce met with Bonneville, who was playing his character, before they filmed the series, and Bonneville explained at the Q&A about the "informative" lunch they had.
Bonneville said: "Neil and I spent a fascinating couple of hours with the real Brian Boyce who is now retired. But trying to get him to talk about his approach to policing, but also specifically about Brink’s-Mat, was a real insight. And I think Neil's really wrung all the juice out of the conversations that he had had in research because it's all there in the script.
"And even in this first episode, his discipline in terms of when he took over the flying squad, which he did briefly, the image of the Sweeney all hanging out in pubs and smoking, he was like ‘right, we're going for runs every lunchtime’. And it obviously lasted about two weeks until Brink’s-Mat came up. I think the Sweeney were delighted that he was off their case.
"But also this suspicion of Masonry and the interlocking of all these different worlds, and so being at Tintagel House and being away from any sort of normal police environment was very important to Boyce and the investigation.
"They set up camp in a different place so that they could be on their own, and woe betide anybody, certainly in Boyce’s case, who leaked or brought stuff in that shouldn't be brought in or let information out. So it was a very tight unit. It was fascinating and a real privilege to meet the real man."
The Gold will air on BBC One from 9pm on Sunday 12th February, with all episodes then streaming 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.
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