Jack Lowden interview: ‘The Gold’ star chats about playing Kenneth Noye

Jack Lowden (Benediction, War & Peace) is back on our screens this winter in The Gold.

From the creator of Guilt, the BBC’s six-part mini-series dramatises the true story of ‘the crime of the century’ and the decades-long chain of events that followed the Brink’s-Mat robbery in 1983.

Watch the trailer here:

The official synopsis for The Gold reads: “On the 26 November 1983, six armed men broke into the Brink’s-Mat security depot near London’s Heathrow Airport, and inadvertently stumbled across gold bullion worth £26m.

“What started as ‘a typical Old Kent Road armed robbery’ according to detectives at the time, became a seminal event in British criminal history, remarkable not only for the scale of the theft, at the time the biggest in world history, but for its wider legacy.

“The disposal of the bullion caused the birth of large-scale international money laundering, provided the dirty money that helped fuel the London Docklands property boom, united blue and white collar criminals and left controversy and murder in its wake.”

The Gold continues in the UK this Sunday night on BBC One, with all six episodes now streaming on BBC iPlayer as a box set.

The series will then launch internationally on Paramount+ later this year.

Here actor Jack Lowden chats about playing real-life criminal Kenneth Noye in the series:


Tell us about Kenneth Noye…

“Kenneth Noye was officially described as a builder from Kent, but it quickly became evident that he was not just a builder. He was many different things, namely a ‘fence’ to stolen goods.”


Explain how they set about cleaning the gold?

“Kenneth is brought to the gold in a lock-up with Micky McAvoy, and he’s shown the gold bars. He then takes one of the gold bars to John Palmer, who is a gold expert, to talk about how they’re gonna break it down. And essentially John Palmer smelted it down, but it was too pure, too traceable.

“That amount of gold can’t suddenly appear on the market, or on the black market, it would have been too suspicious. So, they washed it, essentially by throwing in copper coins, jewellery – anything really – before selling it or depositing it in far flung banks.”


Did you do your own research?

“I think it’s very important, when playing real people, to stick to the script as much as possible. Neil (Forsyth)’s writing is so good that there wasn’t much that I needed to look at and I preferred it that way.

“The character that Neil had written, like all the characters, was so fully formed and offered so many opportunities for playing around that I didn’t wanna get too bogged down in anything else.”


What did you find fascinating about this story?

“For me, what’s most fascinating about this story is the amount of people that are involved in it. It wasn’t one gang, one clever, criminal genius or anything like that.

“It’s a huge group of people that probably didn’t even know they were all connected by this huge web of people who all came from very different backgrounds and very different skill sets. You get the sense that if one of them fell, the whole thing would. But also, just the fact that it happened, and they sort of got away with it, in essence. Most of the gold’s still not been found.”


What drew you to Neil Forsyth’s script?

“I’ve been a massive fan of Neil Forsyth’s since he made Guilt up in Edinburgh, which is basically where I’m from. I was so excited that something as good as that was made there.

“With The Gold, I think it’s important that this piece is filtered through a hell of a lot of humour, because it is an unbelievable set of events. Certain points of the story should be very serious of course, and are dealt with enough pathos to make you stop and think about the price being paid for this extreme greed.

“But, it’s very important also to laugh at it as well… it’s a brilliant way of dealing with some fairly evil people. He’s just done a brilliant job.”


What do you think audiences will enjoy about The Gold?

“1980s London will be forever intoxicating and attractive. It’s never not fun to dip back into that and the ridiculousness of the time. But also, I think it’s important that people get to see that some of the Docklands came from dodgy money.

“And the real horrible underbelly that that period had, a real ugliness that came with all the flamboyance. I think it’s very important to be reminded of that because there were some pretty horrible things done.”


Did you enjoy working in the 1980s sets?

“What I found surprising, from a location point of view, was how many locations we shot in that don’t need particular dressing. I think that just reminds you that even though it’s about 40 years ago, it’s still quite recent and a lot of these places still exist. But everything seemed a lot more analogue, a lot more grey.

“Also, it’s always confusing to somebody that was born when I was born, to see the places people used to smoke! I also got to drive around in a genuine gold Rolls Royce on my first day of filming.

“The owner was stood on the corner looking terrified! It was so stately, and comfy. I couldn’t believe the clobber and the gear that those guys were surrounded with.”


What was it like on set for The Gold?

“The actors that I met on this job are just lovely human beings.

“Whilst there are some horrible things that happen in this story, particularly Kenneth’s story, it’s important to remember that and give it as much reverence as we can, there’s still a great sense of humour on set and both of the directors (Aneil Karia and Lawrence Gough) are two of the best directors of actors, they both have a very similar attitude towards actors that’s enormously helpful for something like this.”


What did you most enjoy in this role?

“To be honest, the main things were the clothes. It’s the 80s, so everything’s just that little bit more brash, and a little bit more self-assured.

“Some of my costumes were fantastic. That was genuinely what I looked forward to each day – what am I wearing today? It was never a disappointment.”


Jack Lowden’s Benediction is available to watch on Amazon Prime Video.