The Great Train Robbery (2013 film)

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The Great Train Robbery
The Great Train Robbery 2013 DVD.jpg
DVD cover
Genre Drama
Based on Great Train Robbery
Written by Chris Chibnall
Directed by
Theme music composer
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 2
Producer(s) Julia Stannard
  • George Richmond
  • Gary Shaw
  • Mark Eckersley
  • Billy Sneddon
Running time 185 minutes (A Robber's Tale: 92 minutes; A Copper's Tale: 93 minutes)
Production company(s) World Productions
Original network
Original release 18 – 19 December 2013
External links

The Great Train Robbery is a British television film in two parts,[1] that was first broadcast on BBC One on 18 and 19 December 2013. Written by Chris Chibnall, it tells the story of the Great Train Robbery on 8 August 1963, first from the perspective of the robbers, and then from the perspective of the police. Coincidentally, the first part, A Robber's Tale, was shown on the same day that Ronnie Biggs died.[2][3][4]


A Robber's Tale is set between November 1962 and the aftermath of the Great Train Robbery on 8 August 1963. Beginning at London Heathrow Airport where the big practice robbery took place, Bruce Reynolds (Luke Evans) gathered a group of men to target the Royal Mail train heading between Glasgow and London.[1]

A Copper's Tale begins in the early morning of 8 August 1963 after the train robbery took place. Six of the best police officers from Scotland Yard are called to help with the investigation, with DCS Tommy Butler (Jim Broadbent) in charge.[1]


The cast of "A Robber's Tale"
The cast of "A Copper's Tale"
Character A Robber's Tale A Copper's Tale
Billy Still John Voce
Dr. Ian Holden Tom Beard
DS Stanley Davies Matthew Jure
Emily Clarke Christine Cox
DC Tommy Thorburn James McGregor
DCI Sid Bradbury John Salthouse
Nick Reynolds
George Ward
Dorothy Gwyneth Strong
DC Keith Milner Tommy McDonnell
Alf Bill Thomas
Bert Turner Nigel Collins
John Daly
James Bye
John Wheater James Wilby
Tommy Wisbey Jordan Long
DCS Tommy Butler
Jim Broadbent
Bruce Reynolds
Luke Evans
DS Maurice Ray Tim Pigott-Smith
Jack Mills
Eric Hulme
DS Jack Slipper Nick Moran
DS Steve Moore Tom Chambers
David Whitby Dean Smith
Roy James
Martin Compston
DCS Malcolm Fewtrell Richard Hope
Di Frank Williams
Robert Glenister
Franny Reynolds
Bethany Muir
Brian Field
Del Synnott
Com. George Hatherill Ken Bones
Roger Cordery
Nicholas Murchie
Charlie Wilson
Jack Roth
DCS Ernie Millen George Costigan
Ronnie Biggs
Jack Gordon
Gordon Goody
Paul Anderson
HS Henry Brooke James Fox
Mr. Wyatt Mark Stratton
Buster Edwards
Neil Maskell


The Great Train Robbery was commissioned by Ben Stephenson, controller of BBC Drama, and Danny Cohen, controller of BBC One.[5][6] The executive producers are Simon Heath for World Productions, the company behind the series, and Polly Hill for the BBC.[6] Julia Stannard is the producer of the two ninety-minute films.[6]

The two films were first due to be broadcast in August 2013, on the 50th anniversary of the train robbery, but was postponed to December 2013 because of scheduling issues.[7] The production was inspired by the book Signal Red by Robert Ryan.


Filming began in Yorkshire in March 2013.[6] Various parts of Leeds city centre were used, such as the Adelphi public house, the Calls, Briggate, Hyde Park Picture House and other parts of Hyde Park.[8] The Keighley and Worth Valley Railway was used as Sears Crossing, where the actual robbery took place.[8] Other scenes were filmed at Bradford, Shipley, Haworth and Goole.[8] Filey was used instead of Torquay for the scenes involving Reynolds' hideout.[8] According to the BBC, Yorkshire is the "most cost-effective and realistic alternative".[9]

Episode list[edit]

# Title Directed by Written by Original air date UK viewers
1 "A Robber's Tale" Julian Jarrold Chris Chibnall 18 December 2013 (2013-12-18) 6.35
2 "A Copper's Tale" James Strong Chris Chibnall 19 December 2013 (2013-12-19) 5.99


According to Cheshire Today, the BBC was criticised for glorifying criminals when it announced the series.[11]


Overnight figures showed that A Robber's Tale, the first episode of The Great Train Robbery, was watched by 23.2% of the viewing audience for that time, with 5.23 million watching it.[12][13] The second episode, A Copper's Tale, had a 23.1% audience share and 4.95 million viewers, according to overnight figures.[14]

Critical reception[edit]

A Robber's Tale received a mixed response. Metro journalist Keith Watson gave the film two stars out of five and said he would have liked to have seen more background on the gang members.[15] The Daily Telegraph's Tom Rowley gave it four stars out of five and noted the high attention to detail by Chris Chibnall.[16] Sam Wollaston from The Guardian said A Robber's Tale "beautifully explores the dynamic of a gang of men".[17]


The Great Train Robbery received a BAFTA nomination in 2014.[18][19][20][21]

Home media[edit]

The two films have been released on DVD by publisher Acorn Media UK and is available from the BBC. It was released at other outlets on 6 January 2014.[22]


Early scenes show a robbery in 1962 with two getaway cars sporting A-reg number plates. A-reg number plates were first used in 1963.[23]

The Greenwich Time Signal heard at the start of the BBC radio news, in which Reynolds hears that their farmhouse has been found, in 1963, has a long final pip. The long final pip was not introduced until 1972.[24]

In S1:E1 @38:51 during briefing re security, blackboard is erased then after the line "If you like dad, keep mum" when the shot returns to blackboard it is not erased.


  1. ^ a b c "The Great Train Robbery - Chris Chibnall's thrilling new drama for BBC One". BBC. 18 November 2013. Retrieved 20 November 2013. 
  2. ^ Withnall, Adam (18 December 2013). "Ronnie Biggs dead: Great Train Robbery fugitive dies aged 84". The Independent. Retrieved 18 December 2013. 
  3. ^ Campbell, Duncan (18 December 2013). "Ronnie Biggs picks his moment one last time". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 December 2013. 
  4. ^ Campbell, Duncan (18 December 2013). "Ronnie Biggs, face of Great Train Robbery, slips away with perfect timing". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 December 2013. 
  5. ^ "Jim Broadbent to lead cast in film two of BBC One's The Great Train Robbery". BBC. 2 May 2013. Retrieved 20 November 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c d "Cast announced for first film of BBC One's The Great Train Robbery". BBC. 6 March 2013. Retrieved 20 November 2013. 
  7. ^ Branagan, Mark (5 November 2013). "Great Train Robbery drama filmed in Yorkshire". York Press. Retrieved 20 November 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c d "Great film robbery as Yorkshire blags BBC rail drama". Yorkshire Post. 4 November 2013. Retrieved 20 November 2013. 
  9. ^ Foot, Tom (3 November 2013). "Great Train Robbery TV drama films in unspoiled Yorkshire to get back to the 60s". The Independent. Retrieved 20 November 2013. 
  10. ^ "BARB Top 30s". 
  11. ^ "BBC launch Great Train Robbery drama". Cheshire Today. 20 November 2013. Retrieved 23 November 2013. 
  12. ^ Parker, Robin (19 December 2013). "Great Train Robbery makes solid start". Broadcast Now. Retrieved 19 December 2013. 
  13. ^ Eames, Tom (19 December 2013). "Great Train Robbery drama tops Wednesday with 5.2 million". Digital Spy. Retrieved 20 December 2013. 
  14. ^ Eames, Tom (20 December 2013). "Great Train Robbery concludes with 4.9 million on BBC One". Digital Spy. Retrieved 20 December 2013. 
  15. ^ Watson, Keith (19 December 2013). "The BBC’s The Great Train Robbery: An unmerited attempt to lend the crime a noble quality". Metro. Retrieved 19 December 2013. 
  16. ^ Rowley, Tom (18 December 2013). "The Great Train Robbery: A Robber's Tale, BBC One, review". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 19 December 2013. 
  17. ^ Wollaston, Sam (18 December 2013). "The Great Train Robbery – TV review". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 December 2013. 
  18. ^ Furness, Hannah (7 April 2014). "Helena Bonham Carter up for TV Bafta for role of Elizabeth Taylor". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 7 April 2014. 
  19. ^ Lawrence, Ben (7 April 2014). "Bafta TV Awards 2014: the nominations". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 7 April 2014. 
  20. ^ Denham, Jess (7 April 2014). "Bafta TV awards 2014: Nominations in full". The Independent. Retrieved 7 April 2014. 
  21. ^ Harris, Jamie (7 April 2014). "BAFTA Television Awards 2014: This year's nominees in full". Digital Spy. Retrieved 7 April 2014. 
  22. ^ "The Great Train Robbery: A Coppers Tale & A Robbers Tale (DVD)". BBC Shop. Retrieved 20 November 2013. 
  23. ^ Vehicle registration plates of the United Kingdom, Crown dependencies and overseas territories
  24. ^ "The comforting tone of the hourly radio pips". 

External links[edit]