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The Great Train Robbery 

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A two-part drama which portrays The Great Train Robbery of 8 August 1963, firstly from the point of view of the robbers and then from the point of view of the police who set out to identify and catch the robbers.


Chris Chibnall
3,933 ( 431)




3 nominations. See more awards »



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Series cast summary:
Robert Glenister ...  DI Frank Williams 2 episodes, 2013
Jack Roth ...  Charlie Wilson 2 episodes, 2013
Paul Anderson ...  Gordon Goody 2 episodes, 2013
Luke Evans ...  Bruce Reynolds 2 episodes, 2013
Nicholas Murchie Nicholas Murchie ...  Roger Cordrey 2 episodes, 2013
Martin Compston ...  Roy James 2 episodes, 2013
Del Synnott Del Synnott ...  Brian Field 2 episodes, 2013
Bethany Muir ...  Franny Reynolds 2 episodes, 2013
Eric Hulme Eric Hulme ...  Jack Mills 2 episodes, 2013
Neil Maskell ...  Buster Edwards 2 episodes, 2013
Jack Gordon ...  Ronnie Biggs 2 episodes, 2013
James Bye ...  John Daly 2 episodes, 2013
George Ward George Ward ...  Nick Reynolds 2 episodes, 2013


A two-part drama which portrays The Great Train Robbery of 8 August 1963, firstly from the point of view of the robbers and then from the point of view of the police who set out to identify and catch the robbers.

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Release Date:

2013 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

The Great Train Robbery See more »

Filming Locations:

Yorkshire, England, UK See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


(2 parts)


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Did You Know?


Ronald Biggs, one of the last surviving Great Train Robbers, died on 18 December 2013, the same day that this two-part series was first shown. See more »


The getaway cars at the November 1962 London Airport robbery have "A" suffix registrations, not introduced until February 1963. See more »

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User Reviews

Fascinating Chroncile in Two POV Accounts of the Greatest Heist in British History: A Real-Life Ocean's 11
6 December 2015 | by classicalsteveSee all my reviews

In 1963, 75 km (46 miles) north of London, about 17 blokes pinched a train with a coach containing millions of pounds of cash being transported via Her Majesty's Royal Mail. It was the biggest heist in British history in which the perpetrators lifted about £2.6 million (about £50 million in today's money or $80 million). Because of the amount of money which was taken from the British government instead of a private party, an all-out investigation ensued. Eventually, about 2/3rds of the members were arrested and sent to prison. Since the heist many films and references to the heist have appeared in popular culture, including a line in the Beatles' film "Help" in which Lennon asks a Scotland Yard detective how the heist investigation is coming.

The current film, a made-for-television miniseries in 2013, is probably the best screen adaption of the heist, presenting the events in two parts. The first is from the point-of-view of the criminals, called "A Robber's Tale", and the second from the view of the investigators called "A Copper's Tale". Both segments are equally compelling with outstanding actors showing us how the crime is viewed from different sides of the railroad tracks, so to speak. Two sets of casts are used for each segment, until the very end of the second segment in which characters from both segments begin interacting.

Bruce Reynolds (Luke Evans) is the mastermind and leader of the heist. Their first large job, an airport heist in 1962, yields not nearly as much in cash as they had hoped, around £65,000 (about £1.25 million or $2 million today, which seems like a lot of money!). They were hoping for a bigger payoff. Through a tip, they discover a train bound for London from Glasgow, Scotland, contains a coach designated as Her Majesty's Royal Mail. In addition to the typical mail, the car also contains sacks of cash, pound notes probably being taken out of circulation. Reynolds resolves to pilfer the sacks of cash and puts together a team to engage the heist, including someone who claims he can stop trains. They find an old abandoned farm as a temporary hideout. As events play out, the teams hits unexpected twists in their plan, including the amount of money which turns out, like the airport heist, not to be what was expected...

The second part then chronicles the investigation and eventual arrests of members of the heist gang. Tommy Butler (Jim Broadbent) leads the Scotland Yard investigation. Butler is not only shrewd but uncompromising. He decides the best means for a successful apprehension of the criminals is to keep information close to his chest as his second-in-command Frank Williams (Robert Glenister) points out. He also forces his team to work long hours with little rest. Then the upper echelons of Scotland Yard, probably due to pressure from members of Parliament, decide to release the names and photos of the known perpetrators to the public, much to the objections of Butler and Williams. The releasing of information, as Butler and Williams predicts, leads to disastrous results, further compromising the investigation.

A very enjoyable and well-acted series. Evans makes a good Reynolds, who is not exactly a ruthless criminal but definitely uses rationalization to justify the heist. Broadbent makes a fine Butler, whose aloofness may compromise the success of the investigation. He's tempered by Robert Glenister as Frank Williams who seems the primary voice of reason during the investigation. If you like heist films, this is a real one, and it demonstrates these crimes as not nearly as easy to pull off as you would imagine if you've seen "Ocean's 11".

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