There's a neat irony in the title of The Krays: The Final Word, a comprehensive documentary about the iconic East End gangsters first shown on television in 2001. By interviewing Reggie Kray on his deathbed, and through extensive interviews with former criminal associates, detectives and lawyers, the producers might reasonably claim to have come up with the definitive version of the story.
But we're a long way from hearing the last word on the subject. If anything, the legend of the Kray twins just keeps on growing. Thirty years since they were convicted and with both brothers now dead (Ronnie died in 1995, Reggie 12 days after this interview was filmed in 2000), they continue to fascinate an equally divided public. For all the depth of its content, the documentary hardly touches on the prison years, during which there is plenty of evidence to suggest that they continued to exert real influence, their life sentences putting no end to their financial "business".
This is a rich and compelling documentary, which makes a good stab at analysing the twins' relationship and background. The first-hand observations are invaluable. The circumstances of the Kray murders clearly still ring with genuine emotional resonance for those who were either involved or responsible for the subsequent judicial process. The black and white archive footage is imbued with a strong resonance of nostalgia. And while there's a certain level of voyeurism in watching the wasted Reggie give his final interview, a lack of repentance makes it difficult to feel any real sympathy. This might be Reggie's final word, but there are enough holes in his deathbed "confession" to guarantee the long-term future of the twins' status in criminal folklore.