The inside job: Imagine there’s
172 million in cash lying around at work… A TV thriller shows what happened when three men couldn’t resist the lure
What lengths would you go to in order to give your family a luxury lifestyle Spend all your spare cash on lottery tickets Put everything on black at the roulette wheel Or risk spending the rest of your life behind bars by planning an audacious 172 million heist on your employer
For the three men at the centre of BBC1’s new four-part drama Inside Men, a combination of greed, despair and iron nerve lead them to contemplate the ultimate get-richquick scheme – armed robbery. And they have the perfect workplace in which to do it.
‘They work at a cash depository and see vast sums of money pass before their eyes every day, so they decide to take some of it for themselves,’ explains producer Colin Wratten.
Money to burn: As well as the genuine 50,000 cash used as a prop, false notes were made, then incinerated after filming. 'We didn't want any danger of it being used as legitimate currency,' says producer Colin Wratten.
‘In fact, they decide to take it all – the 172 million that is on the premises at any one time. The question is, can they use their inside knowledge to pull off the heist’
Although the first episode begins with the robbery, we then flash back to the origins of the plan a few months earlier and the circumstances that led manager John, forklift truck driver Marcus and security guard Chris to hatch it.
Writer Tony Basgallop explains, ‘As Inside Men is about a robbery there’s a strong thriller element to the story. But it’s also about the motivations of the men and why they find themselves even contemplating such a crime. Over the course of the four episodes, they go from being beta males to alpha males.’
INSIDE MEN: WHO'S WHO
Chris (Ashley Walters)
A security guard who lives with his alcoholic mother and dreams of a better life with his teenage girlfriend Dita.
John (Steve Mackintosh)
He’s the trusted manager at the cash depository, but the opportunity to steal millions both excites and terrifies him.
Marcus (Warren Brown)
A forklift truck driver who’s still paying off the massive debts he incurred when his wife Gina’s hairdressing business failed.
But will we be rooting for the robbers, or are they just greedy crooks Steven Mackintosh, who plays John, believes viewers will enjoy a ‘thrilling ride’, although he’s not sure how much sympathy they’ll have for the protagonists.
‘What they’re doing is patently illegal,’ says Steven. ‘But I think once viewers learn more about their private lives they may understand why they’re prepared to take such a huge risk.’
John sees the heist as a means of escaping his humdrum life, but also as a chance to prove something to himself. ‘He wants people to remember him,’ says Steven. ‘He wants to escape from his anonymity.’
Chris also sees it as an opportunity to escape his drab existence, while Marcus wants a jetset lifestyle with his wife Gina. So their reasons are not exactly altruistic.
Still, the cash flow problems being experienced by the main characters may strike a chord with viewers in recession blighted Britain. But Colin Wratten says Inside Men isn’t a drama just for the here and now.
‘It’s also about people doing something they’ve always wanted to do, and that’s to make their lives better. It’s about men wanting to improve their lot and doing something most people only fantasise about to achieve it.’
Inside Men was shot in Bristol in a disused Harvey’s Bristol Cream factory, where John sits in an office 20ft above the shop floor to keep a beady eye on employees. And, in a neat example of life reflecting art, Colin Wratten admits security also had to be tight on the show because they used 50,000 of real money as a prop.
‘None of it went missing – we obviously had an extremely honest cast and crew.’ The big question, of course, is do they get away with it ‘I don’t want to give away the ending,’ says Colin, ‘but what I will say is that viewers may be surprised by the course of action one of the men takes.’
Inside Men, BBC1, Thursday, 9pm