I just bought a dvd box set of the first series of "The Sweeney" the first real hard hitting crime series, and it brings to mind, just realistic was it? First off, we have to accept that the criminal underworld is vast, especially in London. People can be forgiven for thinking that the underworld centred around the Krays & the Richardsons, but they were only a part. There were numerous other criminal families, and gangs, or associations of criminals, to make it absurd that one man or gang held total sway. Journalist Andrew Jennings labelled Roy Garner, "Londons` top gangster" a claim ridiculed by journalist Martin Short, again, pointing out there has never been a sole overlord. That tends to belong to the world of fiction.
Watching Regan & Carter, you see that the Police tackle all types of crime, armed robberies, extortion rackets, drugs, smuggling, fraud, counterfeiting, stolen cars, pornography; anything that turns out money. There is so much variation and the people involved, ridicules the sharp suited overlord. One claim made to me was that when the Sweeney was being filmed, "They did not have a clue how armed robberies were carried out, so they had to come to us to be shown how". This was from a man who has long thought of himself as a gangland figure, but in reality was a small time thief and brawler, in and out of prison for fighting , mainly with Police. Did writer and creator Ian Kennedy Martin approach the TV network saying, "I have a great idea for a show but we will have to approach the underworld for lessons in how to stage a robbery?" Pause for laughter.
Obviously villains would have had to learn going to armed robbery school,. Could you imagine a villain walking into a room "Right, balaclavas or stocking masks on, lads. What I am holding is a sawn off shotgun, the tool of use for blaggers!" Absurd isn't it? The reality was that the film crew and cast used a nearby pub that was a drinking hole for cops and villains, and somebody would say, "a security van would never have gone down a street like that" or "you have to be extremely careful getting an illegal wiretap". That was the extent to participation of the underworld and it was also revealed that stunt co-ordinator Peter Brayham knew some villains who gave him tips. Villains have hung around some film sets. Bob Hoskins told of getting tips from villains filming "The Long Good Friday" and Robert Mitchum spoke of Boston villains hanging around the set of "The Friends of Eddie Coyle", to me, one of the best American crime films. There was no loyalty in this one. Reality is so much different from fantasy.