Mrs Biggs

Wednesday, 3 October 2012, 9:00PM – 10:30PM

Last in series:

Having used the Packer money to buy a new house for herself and the boys, Charmian misses Ron desperately. He is lonely too, barely scraping a living as a roofer in a dingy Rio suburb.

Then, tragedy strikes when their eldest son, Nicky, is killed in a car crash. Charmian has to smuggle out a letter to Ron telling him of the terrible news. Charmian and Ron are broken by the death of Nicky, but each deals with it in a different MRS BIGGS 29 way.

Charmian resolves to keep herself as busy as she can – maniacally so – by taking on a degree as a mature student. Ron slides into a pit of drink, drugs and women.It is at this point he meets a beautiful young Brazilian dancer by the name of Raimund.

But jaded by life, Ron decides to arrange one last payday then turn himself in. He meets up with a Daily Express journalist in Rio to sell him his life story. The journalist betrays Ron by tipping off the police and an old adversary, Detective Chief Inspector Jack Slipper, arrests Ron in Rio. He is thrown in prison in Brasilia, facing extradition, and without even the comfort of a cheque from the Express for Charmian and the boys.

Then he discovers that Raimunda is pregnant, and that if the baby is his, the Brazilian authorities might not deport him. Charmian flies out to Rio for an emotional reunion, only to be told by Ron that he wants her to divorce him. He tells her it is for cosmetic reasons only – so that he can be ‘free’ to marry Raimunda, but she is badly shaken.

However, when Ron’s extradition is refused, she busily plans for life in Rio as a family unit again, and this time there will be no need to hide. When she takes her sons Chris and Nicky out to meet their father for the first time in nearly five years, Ron is cold and distant; he is curt with Charmian too.

Tension builds until, in an emotional confrontation, he admits to her that his freedom has become more important to him than his family. That he wants to stay free whatever the cost; and that with the Brazilian media watching him for signs of a weakening of commitment to Raimunda, his ‘English family’ are the price he must pay.

He asks Charmian to live with him and Raimunda in Rio as one, big happy family but she refuses and walks out on him forever. She knows she must put the boys first now. On the way back to Australia she goes to see her family for the first time in over a decade.

Her father is overjoyed when she tells him she and Ron are to divorce, and that he was ‘right’ about Ron all along. But when her father assumes she will now move back to the UK, she tells him her life is now in Australia, a country that wants her, and where she won’t just be ‘Mrs Biggs, the wife of the Great Train Robber’.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012, 9:00PM – 10:00PM

Ron’s picture appears in an Australian magazine. They decide he doesn’t look different enough and feel they have no alternative but to up sticks again.

They pack themselves into a battered old van, the last of the robbery money gone, and set off for Melbourne.

Resourceful and determined, Charmian is now working in a biscuit factory and Ron is foreman at a building site. The boys are at school and the ‘Cook’ family live unobtrusively in a Melbourne suburb.

But the past is never far behind and a London ‘grass’ lets slip to the authorities that Ronnie Biggs is hiding ‘somewhere in Australia’. Ron’s picture flashes up on the evening news in Melbourne. Surely, now, the game is up.

But still Charmian won’t allow him to give in, and insists he hides out for the night at a motel. As she is on her way to take him a change of clothes the police pounce – if they’d followed her for another ten minutes they’d have found him. She is arrested and the boys are taken in to care.

It is the lowest point for but she agrees to sell her story to the Packer organization in exchange for a lawyer to represent her in court.The lawyer wins her freedom and helps her get the boys out of care.

With Ron still in hiding, he and Charmian risk it all by meeting one last time before he skips the country, on a steamer heading to Rio De Janiero. It’s an emotional farewell with the couple facing an uncertain future and aware that this could be their last encounter.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012, 9:00PM – 10:00PM

Urged by Ron to do ‘whatever it takes’ to keep herself happy, Charmian embarks on an ill advised affair with Alan.

When she falls pregnant she can’t risk an abortion at a clinic and has to use a back street abortionist. She falls seriously ill but manages to pull through.

Then she hears the news she’s been waiting for — Ron is planning to escape. She helps organize the attempt, getting money to the gang helping Ron and giving herself a cast iron alibi by taking the boys to Whipsnade Zoo.

The escape attempt succeeds spectacularly and Ron becomes Britain’s most wanted man. Charmian is put under close observation but she bides her time and finally, after being separated from him for almost a year, meets up with Ron in Paris.

His appearance alarms her, he has undergone crude and largely unsuccessful plastic surgery. They talk about the life they had together and Charmian wonders if they will ever be able to return to it. Ron tells her she must keep faith. He is planning on them all starting a new life in Australia. It will cost him over half of his robbery money, but they will be able to turn over a fresh leaf in a country that asks no questions. A country big enough for them to lose themselves in.

Six months later Charmian arrives with the boys in Darwin, but Ron is not there to meet her. Forced to spend the night on camp beds in the airport toilet, she considers getting the next plane home.

But then Ron turns up at her hotel – it’s all been a misunderstanding. He was at the airport but she looked right through him (in fact she hadn’t seen him), and he thought she was giving him a signal.

The family buy a car and set off through the outback to Adelaide, where Ron has lined up work and a rented home. Charmian soon falls pregnant again and the family live a tightrope, constantly trying not to let slip their true identities.

But Ron gets a job and when baby Farley arrives they appear to be settling back into normal family life. Then Reynolds is arrested in the UK… bringing sharp focus to the fact that their past could catch up on them at any moment.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012, 9:00PM – 10:30PM

With Charmian completely in the dark, Ron takes part in the robbery and the gang net slightly more than £2.5m giving them each shares of £140,000. Ron is rich beyond his wildest dreams.

But Charmian is distraught; as he tips his share out in front of her she can’t believe Ron would put their life in jeopardy in this way.

Without a family to support her, she feels she has no option but to stick with Ron and help him disperse the money to safe houses. For a while she enjoys the good life, but the police soon come calling and Ron is arrested.

Charmian struggles to keep it together as the press descends on her and fringe villains threaten her for a slice of Ron’s money. She is helped by Ruby and Alan Wright, a mother and son who are friends of Reynolds. But when Ron is found guilty and sentenced to 30 years imprisonment her world collapses. She is forced to move into a dingy flat, cut adrift by her family and friends. Entirely alone.

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