The Heist: Former police sergeant aims to stay one step ahead of the law

A Northumberland woman taking part in The Heist is hoping her years spent working undercover will help her evade capture.

Friday, 6th March 2020, 1:15 pm
Updated Friday, 6th March 2020, 1:15 pm
Helen, a contestant on The Heist.
Helen, a contestant on The Heist.

Helen, 59, from Lemmington Hall, near Alnwick, served in the police force for 12 years, starting out as a PC in Newcastle, then spending four years in VICE squad before being promoted to Sergeant.

The series will see if locals can commit a perfect heist; evading detection from detectives to win a substantial cash prize.

How did you find the experience of being part of The Heist?

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For inspiration, the Thomas Crown Affair movie where the loot is hidden in plain sight is a great source of ideas for me. Forget diamonds and dogs, a girls best friend is a good disguise. Also, I love the fact that the format of The Heist is just “so bloody British “.... A bucolic mix of the Great train Robbery movie, Midsomer murders, with a sprinkling of good old Agatha Christie.

Do you think your everyday profession will help or hinder how you do throughout the process?

The fact that it is shot using a gritty camera “Blair Witch Project” style in parts relating to the thieves also makes it very avant garde and will allow the players to play games with the audience.

Which of your personality traits and skills will help you evade detection?

As someone who runs a business, I think my face to face experience with Joe public together with dealing with regulatory bodies and public officials will give me an edge in potentially hostile questioning circumstances where I’m very familiar with defending my corner. As a former police officer who spent several years working under cover, I know a few tricks of the game and can ‘dissemble’ with the best of them...i.e. bare-faced lying under pressure! Plus, what an opportunity for a ‘gamekeeper to turn poacher’!

What are you most nervous about?

In a nutshell, as a women approaching 60.....I feel that my age, fighting being beige and the fear of disappearing into the wallpaper will stand me in good stead. I’m also of an age to have learnt that you have two types of friends........ those that will help you move house and those that will help you move a body. Looking fat, old and falling at the first hurdle!

If you were to win the money – what would you spend it on?

I want to donate a good sum of money to Barndale School in Alnwick. The staff saved my sanity, health and marriage by their actions with my severely disabled daughter and improved her quality of life hugely. I’d also love to fix my roof to avoid buckets in my bedroom next winter!

How do you feel the Alnwick community will react to The Heist? Will they support the thieves or the detectives?

It’s a no brainer....it’ll be the thieves..... If as a ‘merry band’ we’re not able to convince the community to support the little guy, there is no hope!

The Heist screens on Sky One and NOW TV from February 6.