ITV’s Hatton Garden drama has been engrossing.
The language is ripe and the cast – including Timothy Spall and Kenneth Cranham – is excellent. The Diamond Wheezers who burgled the underground safe-deposit company in London’s jewellery district in 2015 is a fascinating true-crime story.
While pulling off this shocking theft, the veteran lags are also gasping, collapsing, falling asleep and taking plenty of toilet breaks.
That light-hearted side is excellently done, scripted by Jeff Pope and Terry Winsor. Pope in particular has a strong record in dramatising serious crime stories for TV, including Appropriate Adult, This Is Personal: The Hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper and Mrs Biggs.
In addition to the oddness of this raid by old chaps, Pope and Winsor capture the group’s rivalries and grudges. We also don’t lose sight of the dire fallout of the theft on those who lost their funds, jewels and heirlooms.
I was keen to see Hatton Garden. A couple of years ago I edited One Last Job, an account of Brian Reader’s career – the gang mastermind played by Kenneth Cranham – and the heist, written by Daily Mirror journalists Nick Sommerlad and Tom Pettifor.
They reproduced some private conversations of the gang members, which sound like outtakes from the foul-mouthed Derek and Clive albums by Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. Though the drama has plenty of swearing, the real conversations are a festival of expletives.
Brian Reader comes across as an intriguing character. As suggested in the TV drama, he shunned violence and favoured careful planning of his ‘jobs’. He’s the one with the big house and seems to have made crime pay more often than not over several decades.
Hatton Garden, however, was clearly a disastrous finale.