1 9 8 6 (Australia)
3 x 120 minute episodes
On 21 April 1976, in a precision-timed commando-style raid, a gang of masked gunmen burst into the venerable Victorian Club, the bastion of bookmakers in Melbourne, Australia. It was settling day after three successive metropolitan Easter race meetings, and the coffers were brimming with takings.
The robbers were in and out in just 11 minutes, and with them went a fortune estimated at $4 million in untraceable notes. Nobody was convicted and many saw it as “the perfect crime”. A survey at the time showed that 25% of people hoped the robbers got away with it.
This six hours miniseries depiction of ‘the great bookie robbery’ was produced by PBL Productions for the Nine Network.
Kiwi actor John Bach is superb as Mike Power, the leader of this group of armed robbers who hatches the master plan while serving time in a British prison.
Bruno Lawrence (another New Zealander) co-stars as Cracka Park – Australia’s most-wanted man – who is in love with Power’s sister-in-law, Annie (Madeleine Blackwell).
Other gang members include Col Reynolds (Gary Day) and Tony Lott (Andy Anderson).
Rival villains Merv and Bob Temple are played by Paul Sonkkila and Ray Meagher respectively. Crooked copper Mal Edwards (Dennis Miller) is in league with the Temple Brothers and desperate to put Power away.
Gary Sweet plays Chicka White, an undercover cop who fools some of the more gullible members of Power’s gang.
Catherine Wilkin plays Power’s loyal wife Carol, who is desperate for Mike to give up his life of crime, while Gary Files plays Slasher Grey, a dodgy used car salesman who cant keep his mouth shut and is tricked into making a statement by the police who offer him protection. Power and Lott finish him off, leaving no body and therefore no evidence.
As Power and his gang holiday on the Gold Coast, the Temple brothers give Jaffa Davis (George Spartels) a beating and kill Power’s getaway driver, Russ Lockhart (Denis Moore). Power realises he and his gang have a war on their hands.
Bob Temple is shot dead in front of his wife by Mike Power and Tony Lott but his body is never found.
Merv Temple is determined to avenge his brother’s death, and the corrupt Mal Edwards arranges for Merv to kill Power at Melbourne Magistrates Court.
The writer of the miniseries, former journalist Phillip Cornford, based the story on his own investigations and information he gained from the police. The names and backgrounds of the suspected protagonists were changed for obvious reasons, and the character of Mal Edwards was a combination of several real policemen.
Cornford believed that by the end of his investigations, he knew who most of the real Great Bookie Robbery gang were.
The Mayne Nickless security firm gave the cast $1 million in real cash to fling into the air in jubilation after the successful robbery. Three armed guards, also real, stood just off-camera.
Det. Sgt. Townsend
Alan David Lee