BATS members in BBC’s Great Train Robbery drama

ON GUARD Chris Sheard, right, as a security guard for  BBC One's  Great Train Robbery drama.
ON GUARD Chris Sheard, right, as a security guard for BBC One's Great Train Robbery drama.

It was one of the biggest crimes in British history.

And now the legacy of the Great Train Robbery has reached Batley after three actors joined the cast of a special two-part drama to mark its 50th anniversary.

Yesterday BBC One aired the first part of its Great Train Robbery drama, A Robber’s Tale, which explored the famous events of August 1963, when a criminal gang stole more than £2 million from a mail train – more than £40 million in today’s money.

Les Smith as a barrister in BBC One's The Great Train Robbery.

Les Smith as a barrister in BBC One's The Great Train Robbery.

The TV premiere coincided with the death of famous train robber Ronnie Biggs, who passed away in the early hours of Wednesday morning aged 84.

Batley Amateur Thespian Society members Chris Sheard, Lisa Cockroft and Les Smith were invited to play extras in scenes filmed in Bradford and Leeds earlier this year.

Chris, 34, of Birkenshaw, appeared as a security guard in scenes filmed in a factory in Bradford shown in last night’s episode.

His character was struck by the robbers in a flashback sequence about a previous robbery – and while it appears that Chris was punched in the face, he has assured us it is all down to good camera work!

Lisa Cockroft in costume for the BBC's The Great Train Robbery drama.

Lisa Cockroft in costume for the BBC's The Great Train Robbery drama.

“The stunt man had padding on and was actually hit,” he said. “It was a bit close for comfort though!”

Lisa Cockroft, 23, said she jumped at the chance to take part and filmed some club scenes at Bibi’s restaurant in Leeds.

Lisa, of Dewsbury, was filmed on the dance floor while pop star Eliza Doolittle performed as a club singer.

“A choreographer taught us all some simple dance moves like the twist and also how to dance with a partner, and a few girls were picked out to play the robbers’ girlfriends,” she said. “Eliza looked like she was right out of the 60s, and though playback was used to save her voice through all the takes, I could still hear her singing through it and she sounded beautiful.”

Les Smith, of Barnsley, played a barrister during the drama’s court scenes and also appears as a city gent.

He said his day of filming in Leeds City Centre in February rolled on until the evening for what was supposed to be a summer scene.

He said; “By 7pm it was pitch black and snowing and it was supposed to be August!”

Les, 63, later donned barristers robes for court scenes filmed at Bradford Town Hall.

“I was sat to the left of the judge so there should be a good shot of me,” he said.

“I’m looking forward to seeing it.”

The drama concludes tonight at 8pm on BBC One with A Copper’s Tale, starring Jim Broadbent.