Inside Men: Armed robbery and the modern man

Wednesday 8 February 2012, 10:23

Tony Basgallop Tony Basgallop Writer

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I could rob a bank. I could rob two banks, if I wanted. But I don't because the risk outweighs the reward. Prison seems grim and I'm not all that bothered about being rich.

I can separate all the men I know into two categories: alphas and betas. Leaders and followers, if you will.

Inside Men's warehouse manager John Coniston (played brilliantly by Steven Mackintosh) is a beta, but in order to orchestrate a heist he has to become an alpha.

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Trailer for Inside Men

That's basically where this story began for me. How do I fundamentally change a man's personality? How do I use his weakness as his strength?

How do I get him to do something that just plain isn't in him?

There was some skepticism when I first pitched the idea. Heists had gone out of fashion, both in reality and in drama.

Growing up and watching TV in the late 1970s, every other week some hairy geezer was pulling a pair of nylon tights over his face and walking into a bank with a sawn-off shotgun.

If you wanted to become a millionaire overnight, armed robbery was pretty much your only option. By the time the early 1990s rolled around, credit cards and the national lottery had given criminals an easier option.

It took a couple of meetings to convince everyone that this wasn't going to be about the money. Inside Men isn't just a story about a robbery, it's about what it means to be a modern man.

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Chris (Ashley Walters), Marcus (Warren Brown) and John (Steven Mackintosh) make plans

Whilst researching this drama I found out that there's something like £45 billion worth of cash in the UK. Sitting in vaults, down the backs of sofas, and chinking around in our pockets.

We may think of ourselves as a cashless society, but it's still out there. And it's not worth any less.

I often use dual timelines when structuring a story. I did something similar on Worried About The Boy, flicking between 1981 and 1986. Maybe I just like to keep the audience on their toes.

With Inside Men, opening with the heist allowed me to get straight into two stories that impacted on one another. How did they plan it? And will they get away with it?

The scenes in the vault were filmed in a decommissioned Bank of England building in Bristol.

The vault door weighed four tonnes and you just can't recreate stuff like that.

I went on set one day and held one of the shotguns, pulled on a mask, and stared at the cages of bank notes. Suddenly it didn't seem so easy.

Tony Basgallop is the writer of Inside Men.

Inside Men continues on BBC One and BBC One HD on Thursdays at 9pm. For all programme times, please see the episode guide.

Read a BBC TV blog interview with Boy George, on Worried About The Boy - also written by Tony Basgallop.

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.

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Comments

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    Comment number 1.

    Great... loving the series.

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    Comment number 2.

    Just watched the second episode of Inside Men and once again the BBC has produced a quality programme. Well worth the licence fee

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    Comment number 3.

    Hello

    May I ask if the main character 'John' is portrayed as having a stammer?

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    Comment number 4.

    absolutely brilliant. not often I watch a short series but I have been looking forward to this episode having been so impressed by the opening one last week.

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    Comment number 5.

    how was the research done for this? you get things wrong like the fall body searching people didn't that remove shoes

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    Comment number 6.

    Brilliant character development, great acting and a compelling story. Shows up the poor quality drama (and lazy writing) we've been subject to across all channels in the last few weeks.

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    Comment number 7.

    as an aspiring writer I watch as many dramas as I can, some good, some not so good. But I have to say that this one is brilliant! It's so well thought out and beautifully written, also having great acting adds to the quality. Superb. I hope i can write this well one day :)

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    Comment number 8.

    John Coniston’s (Steven Mackintosh) capability of switching personality from beta to alpha demonstrates a powerful and inner depth. What drives him? How deep and rigorous is his resilience?
    Tony Basgallop is inside men and inside women. Chris (Ashley Walters) is depicted as man in the middle trapped between demanding Mother and devious Dita (Leila Mimmack). He follows John’s lead implicitly. Marcus (Warren Brown) thick in mind and body, loose cannon is controlled by John and held in check by Gina (Kierston Wareing). Kirsty Coniston’s (Nicola Walker) faith and support for John has given him permission to go beyond his comfort zone, but will she retreat in order to conserve her gains, i.e. her successful adoption?
    Thank you Tony for a gripping, deeply uncomfortable, spiral. Superb casting and utterly convincing acting. Bob_Ben

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    Comment number 9.

    Fantastic Show, About time the BBC showed something worth Watching. Can't wait for the next instalment am hoping it's not going to be predictable where everyone gets nicked, the Bad guys should win this one lol

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    Comment number 10.

    Just watched the 2nd episode of Inside men, really good drama, brilliantly written and acted. Wondering if anyone is seeing the parallels with the lead in ' Breaking Bad ' the US series with the mild mannered chemistry teacher who turns crystal meth baron. Seems a similar concept with both characters finding an unexpected other side to their personalities, looking forward to seeing how this one turns out.

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    Comment number 11.

    Another fantastic piece of quality viewing from the BBC. Brilliant story line and superb acting. I cannot wait for the next episode! Well done to all involved in this drama.

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    Comment number 12.

    Am I the only one to realise that this 'story' is based on the true £53m cash heist of 5 or 6 years ago? Do I only remeber it because it was a friend's field that the empty crates were abondoned in?

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    Comment number 13.

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    Comment number 14.

    I may be among the minority here but after a fairly brutal but routine raid at the start there seems to be little going for it except the quite obvious twist it is seeking to hide which should be revealed tonight

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    Comment number 15.

    Hello all. And thank you for these comments. It seems that generally speaking people like what we’ve done on “Inside Men”, and with one episode left to air I have my fingers crossed that the final denouement won’t disappoint.

    In response to some of these comments:
    Michael – John is what I would call a “nervous speaker”. I understand that stammering isn’t caused by a lack of confidence, so with John I was hoping to portray a man who was finding his voice as his world fell into order.

    CanIGoHome – Research on cash warehouses is a tricky issue as they are understandably shy about their practices. I hope that in the main we managed to get the details close to accurate.

    Jane – you flatter me. Good luck with your writing and my only piece of advice would be to never listen to advice.

    FoxyFoster – the Securitas robbery was interesting as a means of research into how these cash warehouses operate, but the story and the characters and indeed the heist itself is completely fictional. This is about an inside job, the Securitas robbery most certainly wasn’t.

    Maudsy – sorry you didn’t enjoy it as much as others, but I secretly hope you stay watching until the end and that we can change your opinion.

    Thanks again, everyone. It’s always interesting to hear what people think.

    Tony Basgallop

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    Comment number 16.

    Brilliant series.....I just did not understand the ending? Why did John go back?

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    Comment number 17.

    Just watched the final episode of inside men & i am utterly disappointed. I feel that i have wasted the last four Thursday evenings watching a drama series which had the most ridiculous conclusion. A very lame ending indeed!

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    Comment number 18.

    Can anyone explain the ending please? Four hours spent watching this - each minute thinking "Ah. I unserstand now!" Then comes the ending. What????

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    Comment number 19.

    Inside Men was a terrific show. We have just seen episode 4 and to be quite frank we are confused by the ending. Can you please explain the ending? Did John hand himself in at the end? What happened to the rest of the money that John left behind? Despite the good acting and gripping storyline I felt sort changed by not seeing the outcomes. Are we to presume that Marcus and his wife are home free? Did Chris go back to being a father? Was Chris really a snitch and working with the police as an informant? What happened to Kalpesh and his crew? Most importantly, WHERE were the police throughout the heist? Look forward to your response and hope to see more of your gripping stories.

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    Comment number 20.

    As Manuel would say, "Ke?!" I really enjoyed the series, but too many questions were left unanswered at the end.

 

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