Tunnellers in Shameless cash raid
Raiders who stole thousands of pounds by tunnelling under a cash machine echoed a forthcoming storyline from TV's Shameless.
Producers of the Channel 4 show have revealed that the same plot is to feature as a cliff-hanger two-part story during the current series, which was filmed months ago.
Audacious thieves escaped with £6,000 after digging a 100ft tunnel to gain access to a cashpoint in Manchester, where the show is filmed.
In the TV version, Frank Gallagher (played by David Threlfall) is among the workshy Chatsworth estate residents who use a tunnel to steal Lottery scratchcards. But their escapade proves to be less straightforward - and successful - when the tunnel collapses, and viewers will have to see whether they can be freed.
Production staff on the series spent months planning the storyline, and building the set. They created an underground set with caverns, ventilation tunnels, access shafts, sewers and vertical shafts which were more than 30ft high.
In the real-life raid, the thieves - dubbed the "mole gang" - burrowed from a railway embankment, under a car park and beneath the foundations of a Blockbuster store in Levenshulme to reach the cashpoint inside.
The 4ft-high passageway, which stretched to around 100ft in length, was fitted with lighting and roof supports. The gang also drilled holes into the floor of the store, inserting telescopic cameras to help them see.
The theft is thought to have taken place overnight on January 2 but details were announced at the weekend. It is believed the gang also drilled tiny holes from the roof of their tunnel.
Shameless producer Jean Holdsworth said: "We've spent months working and filming our tunnel heist, which we thought was a top secret storyline. It's a major cliff-hanger for the end of the current series of Shameless and we couldn't believe it when we saw the news at the weekend.
"Shameless has a knack for staying topical, often filming storylines months ahead of real-life events mirroring our drama. We recently had our very own take on David Cameron's Shameless Squads with our Eviction Task Force, which again was filmed over six months ago - and now this."