A Robber's Tale is set between November 1962 and the aftermath of the Great Train Robbery on 8 August 1963. Beginning at London Heathrow Airport where the big practice robbery took place, Bruce Reynolds (Luke Evans) gathered a group of men to target the Royal Mail train heading between Glasgow and London.
A Copper's Tale begins in the early morning of 8 August 1963 after the train robbery took place. Six of the best police officers from Scotland Yard are called to help with the investigation, with DCS Tommy Butler (Jim Broadbent) in charge.
The Great Train Robbery was commissioned by Ben Stephenson, controller of BBC Drama, and Danny Cohen, controller of BBC One. The executive producers are Simon Heath for World Productions, the company behind the series, and Polly Hill for the BBC. Julia Stannard is the producer of the two ninety-minute films.
The two films were first due to be broadcast in August 2013, on the 50th anniversary of the train robbery, but was postponed to December 2013 because of scheduling issues. The production was inspired by the book Signal Red by Robert Ryan.
Filming began in Yorkshire in March 2013. Various parts of Leeds city centre were used, such as the Adelphi public house, the Calls, Briggate, Hyde Park Picture House and other parts of Hyde Park. The Keighley and Worth Valley Railway was used as Sears Crossing, where the actual robbery took place. Other scenes were filmed at Bradford, Shipley, Haworth and Goole. Filey was used instead of Torquay for the scenes involving Reynolds' hideout. According to the BBC, Yorkshire is the "most cost-effective and realistic alternative".