AN even greater sell than a fictional story is a real-life tale. And Hollywood – well, I suppose film industries across the world – does not miss an opportunity to capitalise on the latter.
Remember Roger Donaldson’s The Bank Job, with Jason Statham? Well, after watching BBC Entertainment’s docu-drama, The Kangaroo Gang: Thieves by Appointment, you will probably wonder about its potential for the big screen. Hopefully, Adam Shand’s best-selling book King of Thieves: The Adventures of Arthur Delaney and the Kangaroo Gang might inspire a film director or two.
Barry Humphries narrates the tale of five dapper and daring master thieves – Arthur “The King” Delaney (Don Halbert), Wee Jimmy Lloyd (Al Dukes), Patrick William Jack “The Fibber” Warren (Drew Fairley), Billy “The General” Hill (Beau Brady) and “Gorgeous George” Gardener, who ran riot in London and managed to pull off the most infamous jewellery robbery in Asprey on Bond Street.
The group of Australian thieves moved to London in the 1960s. In the decade that followed, they had Scotland Yard going insane trying to nab them while they set about pulling off a series of daring heists.
Delaney, the leader, was once a truck driver in Sydney. The rewards of being a thief proved more alluring and he soon turned it into a full-time profession and fine-tuned the art of shoplifting with his distraction method.
A bona fide and shameless criminal, Warren spent his career cracking safes and conning victims. He did have a redeeming quality – he hated violence. He ended up importing marijuana into Australia. Jimmy, once a mentor of Delaney’s, became his greatest adversary for the World’s Best Thief title. Hill, who was no stranger to doing time, specialised in gold and diamonds. And Gardener brought his bank robbing expertise to the table. Together these criminals conspired to stage a most ingenious robbery of Asprey of Bond Street, the jeweller to the queen, which saw them earn the ill-reputed title of “King of Thieves”.
What became of the gang? Best you tune in and find out.
• The Kangaroo Gang: Thieves by Appointment airs on BBC Entertainment (DStv channel 120) on Monday at 9pm.