Jack Sheppard, a Hero of the People

When talking about colourful characters, dangerous nutters and other reprobates connected to the history of London crime there’s only one place to start: with the legendary Jack Sheppard – not the well-known actor, interesting as he is, but the notorious 18th century thief, robber and escape artist, who at one time was a genuine hero of the London populace.

‘Mad’ Frankie Fraser and Uncle Jim

In the nineties Frank Fraser spearheaded a surge in the popularity of the ghost-written British gangster memoir, of which he produced a good many. These books were lapped-up by large numbers of people with a nostalgia for tales of the old gangland, told by some of the key actors in their old age.

Billy Hill, London’s Wartime Crime Blitz and the Real Casino Royale

There is a tale to be told about London during the Blitz in which the bravery, resilience, public-spiritedness and togetherness of its people do not feature quite as largely as they usually do. It is a secret history, rather, of a wave of criminality so brazen and rampant that it not only pushed the crime rate through the roof relative to the pre-war period but also set the pattern for what was to follow once the war was over - the classic gangland era of the Fifties and Sixties.

London's Organised Crime Syndicates

The murky world of organised crime continues to be a source of inspiration for the entertainment industry. And for many TV series and books – including, of course, London Large – London is the setting of choice. The city has a very long history of dodgy dealings, and in recent years organised criminal activity – from the drug economy and people trafficking to financial fraud - have seen significant growth. The city offers a million illegal opportunities to accumulate wealth.