On November 26, 1983, six gun-wielding men burst into a security depot near Heathrow airport expecting to steal cash from the vaults. Instead, they found gold bars worth £26 million (equivalent to more than £112m today). The Brink’s-Mat robbery, as it became known, was the biggest heist the world had seen. Its consequences rippled far beyond the South London crime world. The proceeds fuelled the birth of large-scale international money laundering and funded the regeneration of the London Docklands. If you’ve bought gold in Britain since 1984, you probably own some Brink’s-Mat bullion. This wild true crime story is now the subject of new BBC drama The Gold, written by Neil Forsyth (Eric, Ernie & Me) and starring Hugh Bonneville, Dominic Cooper and Jack Lowden – fresh from his star-making turn in Apple TV’s Slow Horses. “It’s really a look into something that was sort of ridiculous… but also dangerous,” says Lowden. “A lot of people were affected – and are still affected – by it.”
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Kenneth Noye, Lowden’s character in the show, was not one of the robbers, but rather a ‘fence’ – the man tasked with taking the gold and selling it on, without alerting the authorities. Lowden plays him as a charming man, but with real anger at his core. He may not start off with a gun in his hand, but Noye has a searing determination to get what he sees as his due. In 1985, the real Noye fatally stabbed an undercover officer to death (but was cleared of murder). In 1996, he murdered a man in a road rage incident and was sentenced to a minimum of 16 years in prison.
Ahead of The Gold hitting our screens, Jack Lowden joined The Big Issue to talk about how you bring a morally compromised character to life, and whether he feels a sense of rivalry with his girlfriend, Oscar-nominated actor Saoirse Ronan.
The Big Issue: What drew you to this story?
Jack Lowden: I didn’t know about the Brink’s-Mat robbery. The thing that drew me in was the scripts. The idea that Neil [Forsyth] was going to tell this story was kind of funny, this Dundonian telling a story about south London property. And the characters in it were just so delicious.