The one Ronnie: Sheridan Smith and Daniel Mays play Charmian and Ronnie Biggs in the real-life story of the woman who fell for an outlaw train robber.
If the powers that be at British production house ITV had prevailed, the Australian part of its mini-series Mrs Biggs, about the woman behind the legendary Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs, would have been filmed in South Africa.
Given the superb result, which traces the Biggs' life on the run through the outback and the familiar streets of Adelaide and Melbourne in the 1960s and '70s with a local supporting cast, the idea that South African actors might have been hired to attempt Australian accents just to save a few pounds seems preposterous.
But according to actor Daniel Mays, who plays Ronnie in the five-part drama, only the persistent protestations of British screenwriter Jeff Pope saved the project from becoming a joke.
Sheridan Smith stars in Mrs Biggs. Photo: Ben King
''Jeff Pope was really adamant that [the Biggs] fled to Australia and that should be the place where we did it,'' Mays says on the phone from London, where he is appearing in Arthur Wing Peniro's Trelawny of the Wells.
''All of those Australian actors in smaller parts gave it an authenticity and a real quality that comes through. I think the Australian shoot has made it the show that it is. In television they're always trying to cut money, aren't they? If you want to do something properly you have to fight tooth and nail to try and get what you want.''
Like his dapper, self-exiled alias, 35-year-old Mays had never set foot in Australia until fate brought him here. After filming the last English scene on freezing Blackpool beach, Mays took the longest flight he had experienced to arrive in what he describes as an ''alien land''.
''It was a complete culture shock,'' he says of driving across the outback for two days.
''The Australian shoot became incredibly epic and the landscape opened up, which was really great for the story and the characters. I can imagine in the '60s there must have been this amazing feeling, particularly for Ronnie, that they were so far away and this was a chance to start again and wipe the slate clean.''
Before researching the role of one of Britain's most notorious escaped criminals, which included extensive conversations with the real Charmian Biggs who lives in Melbourne and was a consultant on the production, Mays subscribed to the urban legend of Biggs as an outlaw hero rather than the self-loathing fugitive who emerges in the series.
''In Britain, we only know the tabloid Ronnie Biggs, the guy lording it up in Rio and sticking his fingers up to the establishment.
''To a certain extent, he lived up to that caricature in order to survive. The great thing about the length of the show is we were able to really evolve the character. You first meet Ronnie and he is a petty crook with the gift of the gab and he wears a suit to work even though he works on a building site. You see him chatting Charmian up on the train and they fall in love and you see him mellow into family life. He was a great father and provider but there was another side to him, without question.''
The woman behind the legend impressed Mays. ''I didn't really know what to expect because I'd read all the books and seen all the documentaries, in which Charmian came across as an incredibly astute and intelligent woman, a well-read, an incredibly powerful woman, and she lived up to that tenfold in the flesh … She was quite taken aback when we got to the Rio section and I had longer hair and I was wearing blue contact lenses and the flares. She was just like, 'It's quite eerie, Danny, how much you resemble him', and she was doing double-takes on the set.''
Mays recalls as ''a bit odd'' a train journey to watch an AFL match with Charmian Biggs. ''She was on the train again with a much younger Ronnie so that was a bit strange, but her youngest son came and watched the game with us so I got to meet some of her family and they were all lovely.''
However, not all of Charmian Biggs' family were initially supportive of the series.
''The youngest son had given Charmian his blessing but it's such a private and controversial story. I think they were worried that we not do the story justice, but once they'd read Jeff Pope's brilliant scripts and met all the cast and they knew we had integrity and were telling the story as best we could, then I think they were all happy to go ahead with it.''
The real Ronnie Biggs and the man charged with portraying his life story never met. Ronnie now lives in a nursing home in England, and after suffering three strokes, can only communicate using an alphabet board.
''I think there were a lot of people nervous about me actually meeting him.
''I think he's surrounded by people still who may have tried to influence the way I played it, or tried to delve into the scripts and change things, and the great thing about this story, for me, is the fact that it's told from Charmian's point of view. It's her last roll of the dice. It was her opportunity to set the record straight, because there's been a lot of misconceived ideas about her as well.''
Ultimately, Mays says, it was the love story that drew him to the role, and has made it difficult to leave behind.
''Every show you do you are in a bubble, but this was weird because I've played so many heavy parts, but this wasn't a heavy character as such. There was a fun element to him, but I felt like I was in such a bubble in that project and I found it very difficult to let go when I'd finished it.
''I think that the key was the believability of that love story. That she would give up everything and turn her back on the family and up sticks and go all the way out to Australia.''
Mrs Biggs, Channel Seven, Sunday, 9.30pm.