I watched the BBC’s take on the “Great Train Robbers” last night. The Telegraph dubbed it polished which it certainly was. But I can’t help agreeing with one of the comments.
For my money this show was more style than substance. Yes the filming, sets and score were immaculate but where was the script and believability? It sounded more like a 50’s Pinewood studio crime caper. The dialogue between the crooks was dire as if any of them ever spoke to each other in comic voice bubble language. As a consequence I found it very difficult to believe in them and it failed to add any depth to the plot and characters.
It was an excellent example of the geezer caper genre, but more “Italian Job” than “Get Carter” with the snappy one liners and lack of atmospheric menace – and the production values were not always 100%….snow and leafless trees in August?
Presenting Bruce Reynolds as framing the blag as a symbolic strike against “The Establishment” was a laughable attempt to over egg the whole affair with retro sixties mythology. They were South London thieves, greedy, violent and preferring others to work hard so that they could then rob them of the fruits of their labour.
Robin Hoods they were not.
But then the romantic affair between media luvvies and violent criminals dates back to that very era of the sixties when the colour supplements began to glamourise the Krays.
Dan Hodges, I think, hit the nail on the head. During the “caper” the train driver, Jack Mills, and some of the postal staff were savagely beaten. Others were terrorised into compliance. But, of course, they weren’t chirpy geezers who were dreaming of opening a club or buying a villa in Spain. They were just ordinary anonymous faces who did the boring jobs that keep our society ticking over.
Tonight, the BBC will present the first of a two-part docudrama on the robbery. One, called the “Copper’s Tale”, focuses on the efforts of the police to catch the perpetrators of the crime. The second, “The Robber’s Tale”, shows things from the perspective of Biggs and his colleagues. I presume it was done that way in the interests of balance. I also suspect there will not be a third episode “The Railway Worker’s Tale”.
Amen to that, say I….