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BBC Crime Drama The Gold – Interview With Charlotte Spencer

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Tough new true crime drama The Gold, about the infamous early 1980’s Brink’s-Mat Gold Bullion robbery, premiered Sunday 12 February on BBC One. Charlotte Spencer plays Flying Squad cop Nicki Jennings who is seconded to Brian Boyce’s unit. Here she tells us about playing such a feisty character and her attempts to “bring back the bob”

Explain Nicki Jennings’ style to me, please.

I love the eighties look, particularly the amazing power suits! I had my hair cut for this role. It was so long and I’ve never had short hair before and I love it. I’m bringing back the bob I hope.

What aspects of the period set design and decor are you enjoying?

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Being an actor is just dressing up, playing pretend and delving into different worlds. The set design completely immerses you into the world, which is helpful as I was born in the nineties! I’m a little bit obsessed with the wired phones – I kept picking them up, and pretending, like a child, to talk on them like I’m at playschool because I just love them so much.

Explain who Nicki Jennings is to me.

Nicki Jennings is determined, clever and gritty. She’s very determined to go up in the world and to be seen and listened to, and she’s good at her job. She doesn’t come from a well-to-do background. She’s working class and her dad’s a criminal and she chose to go against how he was.

How much of Nicki Jennings’s story is based on fact?

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Not quite, Nicki Jennings is based on a number of women in the police at the time. There were actually lots of women in the Flying Squad because, as women, they were least suspected when on surveillance.

Could you describe the evolution of the relationship between Jennings, Brightwell (Emun Elliott), and Boyce (Hugh Bonneville)?

The three of them – Jennings, Brightwell and Boyce – are completely different characters and that’s what makes it work. Boyce oversees the whole thing. Jennings is the quick, clever one that always wants to get going and Brightwell basically… Brightwell’s really chilled out. He’s been doing it such a long time that he calms Jennings a lot of the time.

In what ways did you relish, and how did you struggle with, your role?

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The cast of The Gold is truly quite amazing, it was so incredible to watch the rest of the cast at work. It was really a lesson! What I found the most difficult about playing Jennings is that I find a lot women come in and play a feisty character, and in doing so they try and emulate men. I didn’t want her to be that, I thought it was very important that she’s still feminine. You can still be powerful and feminine. You don’t have to just ‘bloke it up’. Jennings is feisty but she still wears nice clothes and makeup, and I kind feel that there’s power in that.

So, tell me, what is it about Jennings that you find appealing?

I think Jennings is great. She’s gritty. I’m a bit feisty myself so I understand that feeling of wanting to be respected and to be heard. She’s a nice character to play.

Tell me what about it most intrigues you. What was it that really interested you?

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What I liked about the scripts, and the story in general, is that there is physical gold. It’s something you just don’t hear of anymore, and the fact that it got smelted down and dispersed, to the point where any gold that now exists, after the eighties will likely have a little bit of Brink’s-Mat in it. Go and check your jewellery now! You’ve probably got Brink’s-Mat on your wrist or in your ears. I found that fascinating.

For an actor, what was it about the screenplay and the skill of Neil’s writing that particularly resonated with you?

Neil’s script is so intricate and amazing, and it’s such an ensemble piece. There are so many people involved, not just the robbers and the robbery itself, but the police, and the bank managers, and the people on the street, and the wives: it’s so intertwined that you have to be a good script writer in order to tell this story.

Do you listen to a lot of ’80s music now?

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I like to create a playlist for each character I play, so I’ve created one for Jennings. She’s about 30 in the drama and so would have been born in the fifties or sixties, so she would have ranged from stuff that her dad played her – perhaps a bit of Elvis and The Beatles – then going into like her own stuff like Bowie and ‘Don’t You Want Me Baby’. There’s some decent songs on there!

Top three reasons to tune in to The Gold?

Because. The. Eighties.

The Gold airs Sunday nights at 9.00pm on BBC One.

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Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.

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