Timothy Spall has said playing a Hatton Garden criminal in a forthcoming drama about the infamous heist was “bloody gruelling”.
The four-part ITV series Hatton Garden tells the story of the unlikely gang of elderly London robbers who pulled off the bold jewellery raid in the capital’s diamond district.
Spall plays Terry Perkins – one of the men responsible for the daring break-in over the Easter weekend in 2015 – who died in Belmarsh Prison last year.
He said: “We recreated the vault in the studio and in filming our story you realised these were old blokes working very hard in what was very difficult, physical, skilled engineering.
“So when we got down to filming the work, you realise how hard it was. No wonder my character and the others were exhausted. They were old.
“You really got a sense of how difficult it was to drill through concrete with one of those diamond drills. It was a bit like being involved with some bizarre engineering feat.
“It was bloody gruelling. We were running up and down stairways at 3am.
“Some of it was a bit challenging. But we always had somebody standing by with a cup of tea and a chair. Unlike most people who do that sort of thing.”
Spall stars opposite Kenneth Cranham, who plays ringleader Brian Reader, and Brian F O’Byrne as Michael Seed.
Originally due to air in December 2017, the series was put on hold after prosecutors told ITV it clashed with the trial.
The series was re-scheduled for a second time following the trial of final suspect Seed – known as Basil – who was convicted in March 2019.
The heist has been dramatised by Bafta-winning screenwriter Jeff Pope, who was responsible for the ITV series about the murder of Rhys Jones, Little Boy Blue.
Pope and the cast visited the real Hatton Garden vault during the series, with the screenwriter adding it “takes your breath away” that the group managed to pull it off.
He said: “We did visit the real vault. We went down into the vault and we looked through the holes that were drilled, which are phenomenally small.
“I consider myself reasonably trim but I had no chance of getting through.
“We use exactly the same dimensions in the drama. The hole our two actors went through, in terms of the two gang members who went into the vault, is the exact size of the hole in the real vault.
“My goodness it’s a struggle to get through it.”
Hatton Garden is due to air on ITV later this month.