Secrets of the Krays is a new factual documentary about famous East London gangsters Ronnie and Reggie Kray. It traces their rise, reign and fall over the course of the 1960s and beyond.
The three-part original series features exclusive interviews with friends of the pair, former gangsters and relatives. Plus, it includes rarely-seen archive footage from the day and personal items belonging to the twins. Including Reggie Kray's personal scrapbook, which recorded the gang's crimes and court appearances over the years.
Where can I watch Secrets of the Krays?
Secrets of the Krays is available to watch on Britbox from Tuesday January 25 2022. It's a brand-new documentary from Britbox, which launched in 2017, and details the lives of both brothers along with their criminal enterprises and rule over London in the 1960s.
To catch up on the latest episode, sign up to to Britbox (opens in new tab). Starting with a 7-day free trial, the streaming service then costs £5.99 per month.
How did the Krays get caught?
A member of the Kray’s gang, Bobby Teale, passed on information to the police who were investigating the brothers. The Metropolitan Police had started looking into the two for some time before but struggled to make any evidence stick due to a lack of cooperation.
Bobby had witnessed the murders of George Cornell, Frank Mitchell and Jack 'The Hat' McVitie and while his testimony was good, the so-called “wall of silence” held up by other gang members and affiliates made gathering information extremely difficult.
But after their arrest, gang members designated to take the fall for the murders backed out. Albert Donoghue, the gang’s right-hand man and chief executive, would have gone down for the death of Frank Mitchell. He not only refused to confess - but became the first to give evidence to the police against the brothers. John Dickinson was the driver on the night that George Cornell died but refused to confess to firing the gun. He was the driver on the night of the killing but refused to confess to firing the gun. While Ronnie Hart, the brothers’ cousin, was at the scene when Reggie and his accomplices stabbed Jack McVitie to death - and even held him down - but didn’t admit to his murder. He also gave evidence to the police to escape his own conviction.
The trial of the Krays started at The Old Bailey in 1969 and lasted for 39 days in total, with sentencing being handed down on March 4 (opens in new tab). At the time, it was the longest and most-expensive trial ever held at the London court. Among other spending, legal costs for the barristers and solicitors were around £150,000, with a further £4,000 for juror's allowances.
Both men had life sentences years for the murder of Jack McVitie after six hours and 55 minutes of delibration from the 10-man jury. They came back with the unanimous guilty verdict. Their older brother, Charles Kray, was also sentenced to 10 years for helping them dispose of Jack’s body.
How much were the Krays worth?
It’s not known how much the Kray twins were worth at the time of their deaths. However during the 1960s, the pair ran several protection rackets and owned a nightclub in Knightsbridge, London, called Esmeralda’s Barn.
What happened to Reggie Kray's wife?
Reggie married Frances Shea in 1965 with the union lasting for 8 months before she left. The marriage was never formally dissolved as Frances died in 1967, with an inquest confirming suicide. Their relationship makes an appearance in Secrets of the Krays as contributors discuss the life of Reggie.
However in 2002, Reggie’s former cellmate came forward to allege that Ronnie Kray had actually murdered Frances. Bradley Allardyce spent three years with the brother in Maidstone Prison and told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, “I am openly admitting for the first time that we [Allardyce and Kray] had a sexual relationship as much as it was against my will and he knew it was against my will. So I was always in denial.”
He added, “There is not one day I would change with mine and Reggie’s relationship”, before going on to reveal that Reggie had confided in him during their time in prison.
“"I was sitting in my cell with Reg and it was one of those nights where we turned the lights down low and put some nice music on and sometimes he would reminisce.
"He would get really deep and open up to me.
"[Reg] suddenly broke down and said 'I'm going to tell you something I've only ever told two people and something I've carried around with me' - something that had been a black hole since the day he found out.
"He put his head on my shoulder and told me Ron killed Frances. [Ron] told Reg what he had done two days after."
Relatives of the twins have since called the allegations “totally ridiculous”. Kim Smith, daughter of the Kray’s cousin Rita, told the East London Advertiser, “She was staying with her brother Frankie Shea because her nerves were bad. They were told to keep an eye on her and don’t let any tablets near her.
“But Frankie was out with his family when Frances found tablets in her sister-in-law’s bag and took them. Ronnie and Reggie were nowhere near.”
Leonard “Nipper” Read, the officer who led the Scotland Yard team on the Krays' original murder charges, said that the claims made Bradley Allardyce years after the death of Ronnie Kray should be investigated.
"Whatever else it is it is an allegation of murder - somebody has made an extreme allegation,” he said.
"If this had been reported to me at the stage I was at that time, investigating the whole area of what the Krays might be up to it would have gone into the scale of allegations that must be pursued and that would have been pursued with vigour. It would have added weight to the allegation that these were indiscriminate murders."
Where is Cedra Court where the Kray’s lived?
Cedra Court is a block of flats in Clapton, East London. Situated in Cazenove Road, the building is still standing today and is a subject in Secrets of the Krays. Both Ronnie and Reggie owned apartments on top of each other in the building during the peak of their criminal activities in the 1960s, after they moved out of their mother's house at 178 Vallance Street.
The block is just minutes away from the house on Evering Road where the Kray twins murdered Jack ‘The Hat’ McVitie in 1967.
Were the Krays gay?
In his book, My Story, Ronnie Kray said that he was bisexual. Although Reggie Kray never openly confirmed it, many suspected that the gangster was also attracted to men. Ronnie even supposedly boasted about his experiences with men during the 60s, despite homosexuality only becoming legal in the UK in 1967.
Nemone Lethbridge, the twins’ barrister from 1957 to 1962, said the elder brother would “talk openly” about his sexuality. “Ron would boast about his affairs,” he said. “But he was fearless. He really was not frightened of anybody, or ashamed.”
Ronnie had planned to marry a woman named Monica. But he went to prison for the murders before he had the chance. He went on to marry two other women - Elaine Mildener in 1985 and Kate Howard in 1994.
Joe Bailey, a member of the Kray’s gang, said the brother would “openly flirt” with members of his crew. “He liked me big time,” Joe said. “He used to say, ‘Why don’t you come round my mum’s for dinner?’ I said, ‘I can’t, I’m going out with my girlfriend.’ Wherever he went people used to see him and he’d just sit there [and say] ‘Hello, how are you? Would you like a drink?’
“And he’d put his arm around the back of them. But I took no notice. I didn’t care.”
Friends of Reggie, including Maureen Flanagan, a frequent visitor to the Kray home and their mother's hairdresser, consider Allardyce to be the “love of Reggie’s life” after the two spent most of their time together at Maidstone Prison. "I think it started off with companionship and I think it grew into a love," she said. "There was definitely a bond there which was probably inseparable."
When did the Krays die?
Ronnie Kray died on March 17 1995 (aged 61) of a heart attack. While Reggie died on October 1 2000 (aged 66) of bladder cancer. The latter was freed from prison by Home Secretary Jack Shaw in August 2000 with a life expectancy of only a few weeks so that he could die at home.
For another docuseries check out How to Change Your Mind on Netflix.