BBC is set to air two new films from writer Chris Chibnall (Broadchurch) that tell the story behind The Great Train Robbery. 50 years on, it is still one of the most infamous heists in British history and these new films unravel both the robber’s tale and the copper’s tale. You can see Chris Chibnall interviewed here:
Veteran actor Jim Broadbent, who stars as Detective Tommy Butler in the films, has a very personal take on the story. Being interviewed ahead of its release he reflected on how he remembers ‘the great train robbery very well’, going on to say, ‘I think I was 13 at the time and in fact I’d seen Roy James, the getaway driver, racing in a racing car – so I had sort of identified with him and the whole train robbery at a young age.’ Following the story for its duration, Broadbent revealed how ‘years later I actually saw Roy James and Charlie Wilson, two of the robbers, back in court when I was researching to play a barrister in a film directed by Stephen Frears called The Hit.’
To Broadbent, Butler has been largely overlooked by the public, ‘Tommy Butler wasn’t a well-known figure. The villains all were, but Tommy didn’t become a national figure that everyone knew about at all. It’s interesting that in the second film the audience will see the second side to the story.’
When asked who he thinks is the real hero of the story, Broadbent had this to say, ‘It will be interesting to see because I think with the first film I’d imagine the audience will identify with the robbers, and in the second film they will begin to identify with the police who were after them. I think he’s quite an interesting man, Tommy Butler, and I think in a strange way a sympathetic character. The audience will want him to succeed. I hope so.’
The Great Train Robbery will air on BBC One later this year.
There is a great little BBC Radio Witness programme on the The Great Train Robbery here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p00x25hr/Witness_The_Great_Train_Robbery/