Charlotte Spencer, who stars as the police detective at the centre of BBC One’s The Gold, lifts the lid on the new must-watch crime drama.
If you’re anything like, us, you will undoubtedly have been busily counting down the days until The Gold drops on BBC One.
Inspired by the explosive events of the Brink’s-Mat robbery in 1983, the highly-anticipated drama explores one of the most remarkable true crime cases and its impact on the world after the event. Which means that it whizzes us back in time to 26 November 1983, when six armed men broke into the Brink’s-Mat security depot near London’s Heathrow Airport.
It was supposed to be “a typical Old Kent Road armed robbery.” During the heist, though, the men stumbled across gold bullion, uncut diamonds, and cash worth £26 million – and thus inadvertently set into motion the events that led to 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, obviously) in its wake.
Watch the trailer for The Gold below:
Charlotte Spencer – perhaps best known for her work on The Duke and Les Misérables – stars in the compelling true crime series as Nikki Jennings, a police detective who works in the flying squad.
“She’s a woman who decided to become a police officer so that she could help people,” the actor explains to Stylist.
“An honest, hard working woman, who doesn’t let her background define her.”
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Charlotte joins a seriously impressive ensemble cast, including: Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey) as Brian Boyce; Jack Lowden (Small Axe: Mangrove) as Kenneth Noye; Dominic Cooper (The Preacher) as Edwyn Cooper; Tom Cullen (Becoming Elizabeth) as John Palmer; and Emun Elliott (Guilt, Old) as Tony Brightwell.
The cast also includes Sean Harris (Southcliffe), Ellora Torchia (Ali And Ava) and Stefanie Martini (Prime Suspect) in the real-life drama.
“It’s an amazing cast,” agrees Charlotte, “but I think that’s a sign of a good casting director. A huge thank you to Olivia Scott Webb for giving me the opportunity to be in a show like this and to work with such fantastic people.
Adding that she’s made some “great friends” on the job (“They were a bunch of gems!”), she shares: “The cast were welcoming, fun, talented and so supportive. When you get to work with people like that there’s not much more you could ask for.”
Here’s what happened when we sat down to chat with Charlotte about the upcoming series, the murky world of true crime, and everything in between.
What drew you to The Gold?
I was drawn to this project for many reasons, but mainly because the role of Nikki Jennings was so great – she’s such a well written character. I also loved the fact that the story, despite being wild, was real. And, of course, the 80s was a great decade – especially the fashion.
What can you tell us about your character?
Nikki is put into a team, along with her partner, and they specifically concentrate on the Brink’s-Mat case. She’s a compilation of several real women who, spanning the course of several years, worked on this case at different times.
Do you approach true crime differently to pure fiction?
I think when a story is real you definitely do your research, particularly when it involves a crime. It’s your job to tell the story as accurately as possible. The Gold’s writer, Neil Forsyth, studied this very hard and I think it shows in the series. Everyone involved wanted to tell this story well.
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Why is the heist at the centre of The Gold so interesting?
It’s probably the last physical robbery that will ever happen, especially in this country: in the future, I believe it’ll all be done online and through cyber-attacks. But it’s also the sheer scale of it, because this robbery changed a lot. It changed the face of London. It opened our eyes to corruption, and it means we now have laws on money laundering that just didn’t exist before this crime. Any gold in circulation after this will have a small amount of Brink’s-Mat gold in it! Even now, any piece of gold jewellery you have will more likely than not contain that gold.
Are you a true crime fan yourself?
I am, although it always sounds weird to me to say “fan”. I think I’m fascinated by how things can go so wrong. That the choices you make can lead you down a terrible path if you’re not careful. They’re almost like the old fables, told as a warning to choose the right way. That’s how I see it, anyway. It’s all about how humanity can go so wrong and how we should avoid that at all costs.
Do you feel women are reclaiming the true crime genre?
I believe it’s good to see women on the other side of the tale. The police officers that help, the people that lend a hand in solving a crime, the women that bring criminals to justice. There are plenty of heroic women out there making a difference everyday, and it’s nice to see that on screen.
Some might jump to conclusions about what this show is about based on the title alone. What would you say to these people?
It’s normal to make assumptions, but it may surprise you just how far this crime went.
Thanks to Reddit, people obsess over tiny details and Easter eggs in TV shows – and fan theories are everywhere. Do you think this has changed the way we consume TV?
Very probably, although I’m not really on any media platforms so I’m not really privy to any discussions that go on. I suppose the audience can also look this crime up if they wanted to know more: the information is already freely available to people in this case.
What tiny detail do you hope people notice about your character, if any?
I don’t know, really, because there’s so much to this story! I think people of a certain age who remember this decade, who lived through it, will enjoy the 80s element to it. The clothes, the hair, the cars, the phones! It really wasn’t that long ago, but we’ve come so far.
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The show is being released episodically AND as a boxset simultaneously – how do you prefer to watch TV?
I prefer to mix things up, because sometimes I like waiting to watch something. But my parents and I just watched the brilliant Happy Valley and we binged all the episodes over a week so that we could be ready for the final episode! I really hope that people enjoy The Gold however they want to, whether they’re a binger or a waiter.
Finally, if you could portray any woman from history, who would it be?
If I could play anyone from history it would be Boudicca, the amazing fiery-haired warrior who fought off the Romans. She was the original Essex girl!
The Gold will air on BBC One and iPlayer at 9pm on Sunday 12 February, with all episodes available as a boxset on iPlayer from launch.
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