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Is This The Best British Drama In Years? — ‘The Gold’ (TV Review)

3 min read

In 1983, a small group of wannabe criminals managed to pull off the biggest robbery in history (at that time) — £93.3 million in today's money, to be exact. It was, and continues to be, one of the most extraordinary heists in the history of the world, but even today the events of the Brink's-Mat robbery and what followed were either shrouded in mystery, partial answers left unfinished, or outright forgotten about. That was, until got on the case. Best known for his critically lauded Guilt series, it's clear Forsyth had one goal in mind with : answering the many questions that still percolate, once and for all.

This criminal caper is a slice of fried gold told three ways — there's the bullion burglars themselves, led by Jack Lowden's electrifyingly chilling Kenny Noye, a Tony Soprano-type equal parts charming and sinister. Chasing closely behind them are the firecracker-duo of Charlotte Spencer and Emun Elliot as Detectives Jennings and Brightwell, begrudgingly led by Hugh Bonneville's DCI Brian Boyce. Boyce and Noye are two sides of the same coin, both operating with cynical perspectives on the world laid out for them. The only difference is Noye seeks to rule that world where Boyce looks to leave it as he found it. Finally, there's Dominic Cooper's Mayfair-approved solicitor, with Cooper playing what he does best — connivingly charming with a hint of snarl. He's an expert in navigating both Noye and Boyce's worlds, making him the ideal candidate as Noye's middleman to launder their enormous sum.

BBC

The Gold's style, both fetishizing the money-hungry world of 1980s London whilst exposing its corrupt innards feels like Life on Mars and The Sopranos' love child. Aneil Karia's anxious, frantic direction constantly reminds us of the mandate for this criminal operation to keep moving, or else it's all over. This lecherous-yet-decadent underworld is scored by Simon Goff's delicious synth-y score, a perfect sonic backdrop of slicked-back hair and Mayfair clubhouse negotiations, known for his fantastic atmospheric creations on Joker and Chernobyl. It's the world of the 1980s but eschewing the typical clichés and hallmarks that you'd find with a Stranger Things or a GLOW. Like the laundered gold itself, this show is unrefined, sharp and eager to cut those unable to keep up as we travel through the United Kingdom's underworld, from Deptford council houses to Sheffield country farms.

BBC

Watching Hugh Bonneville and Jack Lowden face off against one another, two titans of their craft colliding with ultimate magnetic force, reminds one of the continual near-misses of Heisenberg and the DEA during Breaking Bad's later seasons. Lowden's Noye is a kingpin-in-the-making, a menacingly hulky mass of a man whose hunger not just for money, for that sweetest nectar of all, power shakes the world into attention and screams that this is an actor who may just be on top of the world themselves in a few years. You'll be hard pressed to find a better scene of perfect acting than that paralyzing monologue Lowden delivers straight-to-camera in the final moments of the first episode, freezing even the camera itself in his totalizing energy. Likewise, Bonneville's turn as a cynical ex-copper, just as miserable with the rotten Met itself as the criminal world it seemingly seeks to lock away, provides a grizzled foil to Lowden that shows people if you thought you knew Bonneville, think again.

The Gold is undeniably one of the best British dramas we've had in years, 24 carats of solid gold performances that are backed by a beautifully stylized production through the efforts of everyone from its production designers and composers all the way up to directors like Aneil Karia and Lawrence Gough. Neil Forsyth has officially made a name for himself as one of the top British show creators to keep an eye on, as everyone he touches seems to turn to gold.

The Gold is now available to stream on BBC iPlayer.