The Ronnie Biggs Story.



A bit of my background. In 1964 I graduated from Oriel College, Oxford, and landed a trial on The Daily Express (the top selling middle market paper of the day). Having been turned down by fifteen provincial papers this was my last attempt at securing work as a journalist. Cut to ten years later and I had the scoop of the decade. I found Ronnie Biggs in Brazil – published in ‘The Daily Express‘ newspaper  – and told his story in a best selling book: Ronnie Biggs THE MOST WANTED MAN which was translated into ten languages. 

Colin Mackenzie on BBC’s The One show.

This is me at 40.44 on a BBC documentary talking about Biggs https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/b036tln3 

Ronnie Biggs, the Great Train Robber who escaped from Wandsworth prison in July 1965, came into my life courtesy of my neighbour Constantine Benckendorff. He had been back packing round South America in 1973 when he chanced upon a man calling himself Michael Haynes. This was the identity Biggs “borrowed” from a friend when he eluded the Australian police four years earlier. By now he was running out of money and ideas. It was stressful not having legal papers. So he asked Conti to find a journalist willing to do his story. It is bingo for me. Until it nearly went wrong – thanks to Daily ExpressEditor Iain McColl and Scotland Yard.

John Humphreys, Raimunda, Ronnie’s pregnant girlfriend and me. Her pregnancy meant that Biggs could stay in Brazil as the Brazilian government would not extradite fathers of Brazilian children.

Following my retirement I evolved into a documentary film maker, utilising tapes from my Biggs enterprise to make RONNIE BIGGS THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBER (Channel 5)

Colin and daughters on “The Cate Mackenzie Show”


It was thrilling to be interviewed by my three lovely daughters for my new website. They confessed that many of the stories in my book were new to them – many occurred before they were even born. They have a very different and healthy perspective on life and are much more “woke” than I. It was wonderful to hear their views on my life and story. For me I am just thrilled at how charming and beautiful they all are.

Bob Champion


I have known Bob Champion for over 45 years since he was a successful jockey and rode Burbling Brook, a less than useful racehorse, for me over hurdles. I have always supported his courageous fight against cancer which almost felled him in 1979 when he was found to have had the testicular variety. It is part of sporting history that he recovered enough to win the Grand National 18 months later in 1981.

Over the years Bob has raised more than £15 million for his cancer trust which has built research facilities and wings at the Royal Marsden hospital, dedicated to the cure of cancer – mostly in young children.

Bob, who was awarded the CBE in this year’s Honours list, is currently engaged in walking from Aintree which hosts the Grand National to Findon in Sussex where his iconic Grand National winner Aldaniti was trained. As this was 40 years ago Bob is doing this in 40 days, calling in at many racehorse stables on his way south.

I caught up with him last week when he was at Alan King’s stables just south of Swindon where my brilliant staying flat horse Trueshan is trained. I was able to present Bob with a cheque for £200.00, part of the profits from my memoir Pressing My Luck. Downs Syndrome charities will also benefit from these profits.

Bob is remarkably fit for a man of 72 and he lost two stones in weight to prepare for this walking marathon. Your correspondent found it difficult to walk upsides for four miles up the Barbary Castle hills which we traversed. My only excuse is that during Covid I have let my fitness go a bit – and I am seven years his senior!

I am glad to say he is well on his way to raising his target sum of £40,000 on this journey. Racing folk have been very generous and he has been able to renew friendships along the way. Every penny he raises will go to the Bob Champion Cancer Trust which has saved hundreds of lives since it was set up in 1983, a year after Bob retired from the saddle.

PS Trueshan was narrowly beaten in the Ormonde Stakes at Chester this week, beaten three quarters of a length by the 2019 Derby favourite Japan to whom he was conceding 5lbs in weight. He remains on track for the Ascot Gold Cup next month where, hopefully, he will again beat the legendary Stradivarius who has won the race for the past three years.

March 2021 news flash!


Thrilled to have had so much reaction to a lovely book review in the Daily Mail two weeks ago and to a double page article on me in last Sunday’s Racing Post. Good for book sales, too, I have learned.

Writing Pressing My Luck has certainly reunited me with many old friends and colleagues with whom it is easy to lose touch in retirement. And even Old Boys from Malvern College have been in touch to say they enjoyed the book.

Today (March 11) I received interest from a documentary company who are making a programme about the Great Train Robbery’s 60th anniversary in 2023. They want me to tell the story of Ronald Biggs’s life and his various escapades.

So there is no peace for the wicked. I was hoping to devote myself to my annual racehorse fest at Cheltenham next week – but may be diverted by more creative demands. It is certainly making up for the ennui of Lockdown which seems to go on for ever. My wife Linda and I have had our first Covid jabs and are due our second in April. Let’s hope these vaccines are efficient enough to outsmart this horrible virus and return life to normal. Hey ho….