How much did you know about the second series while you were making the first?
There was definitely an eye on getting to Spain, but we hadn't really mapped it out too much. It was more about seeing what happens naturally. For example, casting Michael Smiley as Ronnie Gatlin, you’re thinking: what can we do with this? That stuff is rich territory as a writer.
At what stage did Pablo Escobar get mentioned?
There was a time when we were talking about a big deal with Colombians, I think we heard a story about the guys who did Brink’s-Mat swapping the gold for cocaine, then not knowing how to get back with all the coke from Colombia. That was a great starting point, then it evolved into a meeting at sea, which felt like a fun way to do it. We were trying to find unique angles on familiar gangster tropes.
How were you looking to move things on this time?
We had a slightly different set of visual references, with the nods to Scarface and even Beverly Hills Cop. This felt more high-flying and action-oriented.
You wouldn’t call Sidney a high flyer.
No, there's a Catch-22 where they want to enjoy their money while not drawing too much attention to themselves. Sid is in this new role of a reggae beach-bar owner called Andrew. He really gets into having a backstory for the character, so while Tash and Albert are building their empire, Sid’s just quietly trying to keep away from trouble.
Andrew is more than a new name, it’s a new persona.
Yeah, he's fully committed with a rat tail and little denim shorts, striding about on the beach, enjoying the sights and sounds. He's in his element and can't believe his luck, but it’s all tied up with Ronnie Gatlin and the criminal world, so he has things he needs to be watching out for.
How did you enjoy working with Michael Smiley?
He’s very good at disarming people, having that threatening energy where you're not sure if he's joking. We played into that, because Ronnie was this flash guy that can make things happen in the first series. We wanted to see a darker side this time. I didn't really get to spend a lot of time with him originally, so this shoot was an opportunity to hang out and get to know the thoughtful, sweet and philosophical side of the man. Having him on set being terrifying and then getting tapas with him afterwards was lovely.
Is Sid enjoying Costa life?
He's keeping his head down in his little bubble. He is really happy with his pedalos and the mamacitas to admire on the beach, but there's always this lingering issue of everyone else. He also can't help himself when it comes to the gold, it brings out his greedy little Gollum side.
Did you enjoy your downtime in Spain?
Yeah, the setup was incredible. We had nice weather and a lot of people were staying in or around the same area, so we could all bump into each other and have drinks and dinner. It created a nice camaraderie. It’s so relaxing to have a swim before a shoot, almost like being on holiday together.
Did you go to any reggae bars while you were out there?
No, there's a shortage of reggae bars although the bar where we filmed did seem to have a similar vibe to Sid’s, very removed from the rest of the island. The guy who ran it was a bit of a legend, a proper character who gave T-shirts to everyone on the first day. I don't know what his backstory was, but he’d figured out that beach-bar owner lifestyle and had that deep mahogany tan.
Did you drive your own speedboat as Sid?
I had to do a speedboat lesson with these Spanish guys who made me practise going different speeds and stopping in certain places. It was quite a surreal day. The day that we did the actual speedboat stuff, they said: when we say action, just go fast. So I started going with just the DOP on the front, pointing the camera at us while we improvised. I didn't know how to how long to go on for, but I thought: the more we get, the better. So we were just flying out to sea. By the time I decided we should stop, we were miles out, basically halfway to England. The waves were intense and the boat owner had to drive us back.
Could you handle one on your own now?
Yeah, I reckon I could. There's a knack to it, but the hard bit is going backwards. You have to do everything the opposite to a car. Parking is a nightmare, how precise you have to be.
Have you watched The Gold?
I haven't finished it, but it's nicely directed - very stylish. It was interesting to see a more truthful telling of what happened, the logistics of it all. One of the hardest things about telling the story is that it's so fiddly: moving the money around is hard to show in an engaging way. We've always had the advantage of not having to worry too much about getting it spot on, we just mess around with the bigger ideas and the more we've done, the more we’ve moved away from the true story.
Why do heist stories appeal?
There’s an underdog thing, especially in the Thatcher era of people taking stuff because they weren't being dealt a good hand by society – there’s a sense of the government not doing enough for the working classes now as well. In this series, the Spanish police don't really like the British and didn't really want to help the British police. The threat to the gang comes from being exposed by the press or from them almost exposing themselves, rather than from the police being this organised force.
What was the biggest challenge for this series?
Probably the money side of things on the shoot, although selfishly, I was just really enjoying the whole process. I had a great time writing it and the shoot is probably my favourite I've done. When everyone's relaxed and getting on, it creates environments where you can bounce off of each other and find the comic chemistry.
Could Sid find his mojo in the 90s?
Yeah, I reckon. He's tried to keep his head down and I think he’s realising that’s a bit pointless and he might as well just go for it.