A new five-part drama series about the “untold love story” behind the Great Train Robbery is being co-produced by Australia's December Media, The Seven Network and the UK's ITV Studios, it has been announced.
Mrs Biggs, written by BAFTA award-winning writer Jeff Pope, will commence shooting in Manchester next month before moving Down Under (Adelaide and Melbourne) and will continue for 11 weeks. Other filming locations include Paris, London, Surrey, Buckinghamshire and Rio de Janeiro.
December Media – formerly known as December Films – was one of four Australian houses last year to receive funding through Screen Australia's Enterprise Program. Past projects from the Melbourne-based company include Valentine's Day, The Extraordinary Tale of William Buckley, Out of the Ashes and Lil Horrors.
Directed by Paul Whittington (Vera, DCI Banks), the new drama will tell the remarkable story of Charmian Brent – the ex-wife of the notorious fugitive Ronald ‘Ronnie’ Biggs. It will focus on her life from the moment she met and fell in love with Biggs, to their four years in Australia after the Great Train Robbery in 1963, to the heartbreak when he rejected her after he fled to Rio de Janeiro.
Charmian is acting as a consultant on the project which will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the £2.6 million robbery.
Pope, who has been developing the drama for about four years, won a BAFTA for See No Evil: The Moors Murders in 2007 and his other credits include The Fattest Man In Britain, Pierrepoint: The Last Hangman, Dirty Filthy Love and Essex Boys.
“Charmian’s is one of the great untold stories of the 20th Century, set against the backdrop of one of the greatest crimes of all times. But at the heart of it is a simple love story between Charmian and Ron,” Pope said in a Network Seven statement.
“The story is, on one level, about a young family coming to Australia in the ‘60s – when it was a land of opportunity and discovery. We always knew we were going to need an Australian partner and the Seven Network were committed and supportive right from the word go. We are looking forward to working with Seven on the telling of this great adventure.”
Furthermore, Seven’s head of scheduling and acquisitions, Angus Ross, says it’s a story of international significance.
“…It’s particularly significant here in Australia where Ronnie and Charmian spent so much time hiding out after he fled the UK,” he said in a statement. “It’s also a rollicking good yarn, and very moving too. It promises to make for great TV viewing which Australians audiences will love.”