BBC pounce on raid tale

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ONE of the most fa­mous heists in UK his­tory is to be drama­tised by the BBC with Hol­ly­wood star Luke Evans por­tray­ing the mas­ter­mind of the Great Train Rob­bery, Bruce Reynolds.

Two 90-minute films co­in­cide with the 50th an­niver­sary of the raid later this year and the an­nounce­ment of the cast – which will fea­ture Jack Gor­don as Ron­nie Biggs – comes just days af­ter Reynolds’s death.

The films will ex­am­ine the crime from the per­spec­tive of both the crooks and the de­tec­tives who trailed them.

They come just months af­ter UK chan­nel ITV screened a drama se­ries, Mrs Biggs, based on the af­ter­math of the rob­bery and look­ing at life on the run for Charmian Biggs – wife of Ron­nie.

The gang tar­geted a mail train from Glas­gow in Au­gust 1963 and es­caped with a then record haul of £2.6 mil­lion af­ter they pounced in Buck­ing­hamshire.

The train driver Jack Mills was struck with an iron bar and never worked again, and it has not been es­tab­lished who de­liv­ered the blow. He died in 1970.

The first of the BBC1 films, 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 per­spec­tive of Reynolds, who died last week, aged 81.

Also ap­pear­ing in the film will be Jack Roth who plays gang mem­ber Char­lie Wil­son, Neil Maskell (play­ing Ron­ald ‘‘Buster’’ Ed­wards), Paul An­der­son (Gor­don Goody), Del Syn­nott (Brian Field) and Martin Comp­ston (Roy James).

‘‘The Great Train Rob­bery has passed into mod­ern folk­lore,’’ says Chris Chib­nall, the writer and ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer of A Rob­ber’s Tale.

‘‘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.’’

Ben Stephen­son, con­troller, 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.’’

A sec­ond film, called A Cop­per’s Tale, tells the story of Tommy But­ler and the team of de­tec­tives who sought to bring the gang to jus­tice.

Great Train rob­ber Ron­nie Biggs (1994)

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