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The Great Train Robbery- the Coppers Tale

The second part was only marginally better than the first, largely because of the fine acting of Jim Broadbent. This episode took the drama over to the police investigation, headed up DST Tommy Butler of the Flying Squad.

It adopted the irritating, narrational style of the first episode, which was rather like Michael Owen the soccer analyst in stating the ‘bleeding obvious’ of what you have just seen . ‘Tommy Butler left the room looking angry”- cue Butler walking out with an angry look. If it was based on real facts then it should have put in context of the final days of a Macmillan administration rocked bythe Profumo scandal, where a trenchant judiciary was under great pressure to impose order on moral collapse. You would never have guessed this from the drama. Nor was there any effort to identify the Ulsterman, or the two others never caught. Writer Chris Chibnall of Southchurch now has a massive  reputation but I don’t get it. The period detail was no more than you might expect from a high budget production, but a long way short of Mad Men, the dialogue was not crisp and way below the Jake Arnott novels on sixties crime which crackle. Jim Broadbent was the wholly credible, sly, forensic detective and the shadowy world of snouts, grasses and scary interviews was well depicted. However it was a botched crime. The robbers did not even burn Leatherslade  farm properly.

My problem with the docu-drama is that the scope for imagination is limited. You know the outcome and an actor does not have to interpret a role as much as replicate it. I would like to see less costume, less real events and more cutting-edge creativity. We do have the actors and writers after all.

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About Bernadette Angell

After cutting her journalistic teeth in Boston USA, Bernadette met and married an Englishman, whom she followed back to London. Two decades and three children later, they divorced. She now occupies herself as a freelance writer (credits include television soaps and radio plays) and occasional amateur gardener. More Posts