When Paramount+ initially announced ambitious plans to put 50 international titles into production by the end of 2022, it surprised streaming service experts, for whom the service was badly late and awkwardly managed. The lateness wasn't the service's fault, as parent companies CBS and Viacom struggled to recombine after splitting over a decade ago, leaving it as "CBS All Access" long after its competitors had blown by. Moreover, it had classic left-hand/right-hand problems as Paramount still signed away rights to Paramount-produced hits to competitors barely days before the service launched.
But a streaming service cannot survive on Star Trek and Yellowstone alone (especially when Paramount already sold the Yellowstone streaming rights to competitor Peacock), and after a few delays, that international slate is set to bow on Paramount+ this fall, starting with The Gold. Based on the real-life 1983 Brinks-Mat heist, the series was a massive hit on the BBC in the U.K. in January 2023. (Yes, the BBC, not the Paramount-owned Channel 5; the left-hand/right-hand problems do not stop at the border.) The series was initially circulated as debuting at the end of June but pulled from the lineup last minute, held to function as the kick-off for a more extensive slate.
The Gold is billed as "a pulsating dramatization of this extraordinary and epic story for the first time in its entirety." For those who aren't old enough to remember, the heist occurred when six men broke into a depot near Heathrow Airport, assuming they would find about £1m in Spanish pesetas. This was not as unusual as one might think; in the pre-internet era, stealing foreign currency in hopes of laundering via an exchange was practical. However, in this particular case, the six walked in to find something that was anything but ordinary: £26m in gold bullion, platinum, diamonds, and traveler's checks. Faced with the opportunity to attempt the largest gold heist in the history of the planet, they decided to do it and be legends.
They pulled it off too. Only three directly involved with the robbery were tried, and most of the gold was never recovered. Of the six armed men, only Micky McAvoy and Brian Robinson were tried at the Old Bailey and given 25 years; both were released after 15 in 2000. Anthony Black, the "man on the inside," was given six for collusion. The rest of the convictions, ten in all, went to those involved in laundering, including McAvoy pal Brian Perry, his lawyer Michael Relton, his wife Kathleen, goldsmith Kenneth Noye, and gold/jewelry/metal dealers Garth Chappell, Brian Reader, Matteo Constantino, Patrick Clark, and Jean Savage. None served more than a dozen years.
Here's the limited series' synopsis:
The miniseries is inspired by the real-life events that took place on November 26, 1983, when six armed men broke into the Brink’s-Mat security depot near London’s Heathrow Airport and inadvertently stumbled across gold bullion worth £26m. What started as "a typical Old Kent Road armed robbery," according to detectives at the time, became a seminal event in British criminal history, remarkable not only for the scale of the theft - at the time, the biggest in world history - but for its wider legacy. The disposal of the bullion caused the birth of large-scale international money laundering, provided the dirty money that helped fuel the London Docklands property boom, united blue and white-collar criminals, and left controversy and murder in its wake.
The Gold stars an absolute murder's row (armed robber's row?) of A-list British talent, all of whom will be familiar to PBS viewers. The series is led by Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey) and Emun Elliott (The Rig), who play the real-life detectives assigned to the case, DCI Brian Boyce and DS Tony Brightwell; Charlotte Spencer (Sanditon) plays Nicki Jennings, a fictionalized version of the partner assigned to work with them, and Peter Davison (Doctor Who) is Assistant Commissioner Gordan Stewart. Frankie Wilson (House of the Dragon) is Brian Robinson, and Adam Nagaitis (The Terror) is Micky McAvoy.
Jack Lowden (Slow Horses) plays the man who smelted the gold, Kenneth Noye, James Nelson-Joyce (The Outlaws) is dealer Brian Reader, Tom Cullen (Becoming Elizabeth) plays John Palmer, the real-life partner of Reader, who was never charged, Stefanie Martini (Prime Suspect: Tennison) plays his wife, Marnie Palmer. Dominic Cooper (That Dirty Black Bag) plays Edwyn Cooper, a fictionalized version of Realton, Ellora Torchia (Grantchester) is his girlfriend, Sienna Rose (also never charged). Sean Harris (The Green Knight) is metal dealer Gordon Parry, and Dorothy Atkinson (Magpie Murders) is Jeannie Savage.
Series creator Neil Forsyth (Guilt) wrote all six episodes; helming duties were split between directors Aneil Karia (Top Boy) and Lawrence Gough (Endeavour). Forsyth's outfit, Tannadice Pictures, produced the series in conjunction with Paramount Television International Studios.
The Gold premieres Sunday, September 17, 2023, in the US on Paramount+, with the first two episodes followed by weekly releases through October 15.