Aus­tralian Story

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television -

Mon­day, 8pm, ABC1 In this rare in­ter­view, Charmian Brent, pic­tured, tells how her life was turned up­side down on Au­gust 8, 1963, when her hus­band, Ron­nie Biggs, took part in the no­to­ri­ous Great Train Rob­bery. Along with 14 other gang mem­bers, he made off with £2.6 mil­lion (£41m to­day, or $68m) af­ter hold­ing up the Glas­gow to Lon­don mail train. The money was never re­cov­ered, but nine of the men went to prison. Biggs served 15 months of a 30-year sen­tence be­fore es­cap­ing from Wandsworth Prison in 1965 by scal­ing the wall with a rope lad­der. He fled to Paris where he was joined by Charmian and their two sons and a year later turned up in Aus­tralia, even­tu­ally set­tling in Melbourne. Later he fled to Brazil and fa­thered a child be­fore re­turn­ing to Bri­tain and jail in 2001. Charmian re­mained in Aus­tralia, changed her name to Brent, put her­self through univer­sity and launched a ca­reer in pub­lish­ing. Biggs, who was re­leased from jail in 2009 on com­pas­sion­ate grounds, still keeps in touch with her al­though, aged 84, his health is poor. ‘‘ I’ll be very sad when he dies,’’ says Brent who met Biggs — on a train of all places — when she was 18. ‘‘ I felt when I walked away from the nurs­ing home on the last oc­ca­sion last year that I’d done all that I could do.’’

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