Funny and watchable, Hatton Garden puts its veteran cast to the task of stealing countless millions in cash and jewels, but even though the career criminals might nod off, the audience likely won’t.
This Hatton Garden Episode 1 recap contains spoilers.
You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, as the saying holds, but sometimes the old tricks are quite enough. Such is the case in ITV’s new four-part miniseries Hatton Garden, which airs from tonight to Thursday, and provides a small-screen dramatization by writer and executive producer Jeff Pope and director Paul Whittington of the same 2015 cash and jewelry heist that James Marsh chronicled in last year’s King of Thieves. Its career crooks — all in their 60s and 70s — are putting their old-school thieving credentials to use lifting several million quid from the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit over the Easter holiday weekend, and if the heist is a bit breathless, it’s only because of lingering pulmonary issues.
That vague undercurrent of getting old is a laugh in Hatton Garden Episode 1, which isn’t shy of reminding viewers that its aging conmen aren’t wearing the years too well. Their ringleader Brian Reader (Kenneth Cranham) is a wheezy geezer, and his accomplice Terry Perkins (an ominously shot-from-below Timothy Spall, more angular than ever by quite a margin) is diabetic. These are career criminals looking at their distant glory days in the rear-view mirror, more concerned now with the vault that contains their troublesome prostate.
But they are concerned with the Hatton Garden vault in particular, and its bountiful contents — provided that once they get in they can all remember why they were there in the first place. They don’t like each other, either, or if they do they’ve got a funny way of showing it. The group’s Cockney quarreling is a particular highlight of Hatton Garden Episode 1, one that helps to reinforce the silliness of the whole endeavor. If you didn’t know it was true you’d never believe it.
Alas, it is true, and so overhanging the caper is the knowledge that it’s all going to go wrong; that might hinder the suspense eventually, but it helped ratchet it up in tonight’s episode when a close encounter with a keyholder looked like it might result in immediate failure. That was Hatton Garden as its best, giving the illusion of unpredictability, and providing the punchline of these old blokes having to leg it up several flights of stairs, gasping for air all the while.
If it’s all going to go wrong — which it is — then I hope it continues to go wrong amusingly.