Hatton Garden, episode 1 review: Tense drama but a lack of vim or cockney charm

Timothy Spall and Kenneth Cranham - Television Stills
Timothy Spall and Kenneth Cranham - Television Stills

According to the first episode of Jeff Pope’s drama series Hatton Garden (ITV), the infamous burglary of a safe deposit facility in 2015 was a series of very male screw-ups.

Seventy-six year-old ringleader Brian Reader (Kenneth Cranham) set off an alarm when he stepped outside for a recce. Lookout Kenny Collins (Alex Norton) almost missed the security guard who came to investigate because – I can’t believe I’m writing this – he left his post to buy a bag of fish and chips. That’s especially bizarre considering he’d brought along a packed lunch.

Luckily the security guard was told to stand down. The gang then drilled through the brick encasing the vault with the idea of pushing past the deposit boxes through to the loot, but the wretched things turned out to be bolted down. The episode ended like the Italian Job coach, hanging over a cliff: “Hang on, I think I’ve got an idea…”

Except there was no Michael Caine (who starred in the film version King of Thieves), no vim, no cockney charm: these were over-the-hill, not very nice professionals who should’ve retired years ago, a point the drama rammed home a bit too hard. Did the crooks in real life keep breaking up the heist to pop to the loo?

Did they shout at each other about their bladders and diabetes? Did they raise their voices at all? There was a lot of angry shouting in Hatton Garden, implying the thieves were stone deaf or reckless or (my theory) a bit thick.

Kenneth Cranham as Brian Reader with Timothy Spall as Terry Perkins - Credit: ITV
Kenneth Cranham as Brian Reader with Timothy Spall as Terry Perkins Credit: ITV

Surely there’s a time and a place to contemplate your mortality and it’s not when you’re trying to knock over a multi-million-pound business?

That said, the drama did a good job of sustaining tension when we all know that they got away with the burglary until someone blabbed about it down the pub.

You just can’t get the staff any more. The acting was superb, too, although I’ll never quite get used to the thinner Timothy Spall: he looks like he’s missing about 30 per cent of himself.

Playing second fiddle to Mr Cranham’s arrogant boss, the two actors subtly conveyed the mixture of irritation and affection that comes with long-term partnership, in which much no longer needs to be said because it is already known and patiently endured.

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