The Gold Finale Explained: The Cabbie Who Got Shot & the Millwall Fan in Spain

BBC One Brink’s-Mat drama The Gold ended with a mystery or two. Spoilers.

The Gold screengrab Donnie the Cabbie
Photo: BBC

Warning: contains spoilers for The Gold FINALE

At the beginning of each episode, The Gold announced itself as a mix of fact and fiction with the disclaimer: “The following is inspired by real events. Some characters or elements have been created or changed for dramatic purposes.” That meant while several of its characters had the real names of figures associated with the Brink’s-Mat Robbery, including Kenneth Noye, Micky McAvoy, John Palmer and DCI Brian Boyce, some were created for the series.

Money launderer Edwin Cooper is one of the invented names, for a character likely inspired by real-life solicitor Michael Relton, who was sentenced to 12 years for his part in washing the proceeds of the 1983 robbery. Detective Nikki Jennings is another invention, a composite character inspired by several of the female police officers who worked on the Brink’s-Mat investigation.

Two other characters appear under what seem to be invented names, but perhaps inspired by real-life figures: Donnie “The Cabbie”, who was gunned down in the show’s finale, and Charlie Miller, portrayed as having been one of the six original armed robbers who escaped to the Costa del Sol.

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The Cabbie

In The Gold episode 5, ‘The Boy You Were’, Micky McAvoy’s fiancée Kathleen meets with Donnie (played by Dorian Lough), a taxi firm operator known as “the Cabbie”. “Do Brink’s-Mat know they bought half the cabs in South London?” Kathleen asks Donnie, inferring that he had stolen Micky’s robbery proceeds for his own use. Sent there by Micky to arrange his escape attempt from prison, Kathleen asks Donnie to take her to meet his “friend with the chopper”, threatening his fleet of cars if he doesn’t agree. Donnie takes her to the meeting, but rain calls off Micky’s escape.

The next time we see Donnie, it’s in episode six ‘I’ll Be Remembered’. A short scene intercuts Micky and Kathleen’s wedding with Donnie’s gangland execution. While the McAvoys are married by the prison chaplain, Donnie is fatally shot outside his taxi firm by an anonymous gunman on a motorbike.

There’s no Donnie in the real-life story of The Gold, but there is Brian Perry, a possible inspiration for the character. Perry was the owner of The Blue Car minicab firm (in the drama, Donnie drives a blue taxi) in South London. According to this report in The Guardian, cabbie Perry was the connection who brought gold smelter and money launderer Kenneth Noye into the operation. In 1992, Perry was sentenced to nine years in prison for handling stolen goods, and in 2001, he was shot dead outside his place of work by a masked assassin. Perry’s murder joins the many that killed those associated with the robbery, sometimes referred to as “The Brink’s-Mat curse”.

The timelines differ, as Donnie was killed in 1986 on the show, and Perry was shot in 2001 in real life, but the cabbie connection and the allegation that Perry stole Micky McAvoy’s robbery proceeds match up.

The Millwall Fan on the Costa del Sol

The Gold finale opens on a Spanish villa with a mystery man listening to a Millwall v Arsenal football match on the radio. Incensed by the ref awarding Arsenal the penalty they need to equalise in this FA Cup round, he rants about class inequality and throws his radio over the edge of the property. Then in The Gold’s final moments, he and his Spanish girlfriend are seen sunbathing and laughing, while in flashback, we identify him as one of the six armed robbers who committed the original robbery and escaped to Spain to live on his share of the proceeds. The character, played by Sam Spruell, is named as Charlie Miller in the episode credits.

Micky McAvoy and Brian Robinson were the only two of the six actual robbers sentenced for the Brink’s-Mat heist. The real identity of this mystery man, therefore, is not public knowledge. “Charlie Miller” is likely an invention, but perhaps inspired by elements of real-life armed robber Charlie Wilson.

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Charlie Wilson was shot dead aged 57 at his £500,000 Marbella home on the Costa del Sol in 1990. A career criminal, he had been the treasurer of the 1963 Great Train Robbery, for which he received a 30-year sentence but escaped custody and spent four years on the run before being recaptured, and was eventually released from prison in 1978. During his time in Spain, Wilson was suspected of involvement in drug-smuggling and of laundering proceeds from the Brink’s-Mat robbery.

It’s by no means a perfect fit as “Charlie Miller” is concretely identified in The Gold as having been one of the Brink’s-Mat robbers (and the game he’s listening to on the radio appears to have taken place in January 1994), but there’s enough crossover in the stories to believe Wilson may have served as an inspiration for the mystery Millwall fan living on the lam in Spain.

The Gold is available to stream in full on BBC iPlayer.