The Gold Review 2023 Tv Show Series Cast Crew Online
For once we get a BBC police drama that is not stuffed with the latest modern cliches to make it more ‘now’ and ‘authentic’ and in which the direction, script and acting are not noticeably produced by the same sausage machine. In many respect The Gold really is several cuts above yer standard BBC fare. But it does have its flaws.
The first of these has been highlighted by other reviewers: for some reason the ‘villains’ – Noye and Palmer in particular – are sympathetically portrayed as somewhat loveable characters who just happen to be on the wrong side of the law. They were nothing of the kind: partners, mistresses and associates are on record that both were hard, violent, cruel and ruthless.
Noye is still alive. Palmer was murdered at his home in the south of England, the victim of other gangsters he had upset once too often as he made his fortune, reputed to have been £300m.
Noye was acquitted of murdering an undercover police officer but later jailed for a ‘road rage’ murder. Noye was – make that is – not a nice guy and certainly not a man you would care to cross.
Such characterisation of villasin is not new, of course, and Tinseltown and television have long used that schtick to sex up their cops and robbers drama. A good example which comes to mind is 1967’s Bonnie And Clyde starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway which portrays the couple as rather glamorous and heroic. In fact, their short criminal career was sordid and tragic – but that doesn’t sell as well.
A second flaw of the BBC’s The Gold is more serious as in a sense is it possibly more dishonest: the role of Britain’s ‘Establishment’ is highlighted and the vicious, soulless way it looks after its own.
That is certainly the case and corruption in various police service, a main them of The Gold, is not a scriptwriter’s fancy, included just to jazz up his drama. It was then and apparently still is rampant, not just in the police but in other corners of British society.
The Gold’s portrayal of it, though, is what is dishonest: both Noye and Palmer, and a third villain who was a crucial element in the scheme to get rid of the gold stolen at Heathrow Airport and launder the proceeds are consciously shown partly to be motivated by sticking one up the Establishment, if kicking back at ‘the system’.
From what we know of both men that is just not true: both were motivated purely by greed. They were not ‘victims of the system’ who were, like some kind of latter-day Robin Hoods, turning on it and giving as good as they could get.
The theme of ‘a – potentially – good man’ being held back because he ‘didn’t go to the right school’ or something along those lines is perpetuated by the uncorrupt and uncorruptible copper Brian Boyce who is the nemesis of Noye and Palmer. He was a good enough enlisted man to be considered as officer material but he wasn’t because he was from the wrong social drawer (runs the drama).
This second flaw does not, though, spoil a very good piece of drama. It is a flaw nothing more. The acting throughout is top-notch, there is none of that silly grandstanding which wrecks an otherwise police procedural, and the cinematography – hand-held cameras making this seem much more of a documentary than it really is – comes off well.
If only the BBC had the courage to free itself of its self-imposed restraints and make more of this kind of drama. We can hope.