The actor, who plays Flying Squad detective Tommy Butler in a new BBC drama being filmed in North and West Yorkshire about the crime, said he remembered the 1962 heist “very well”.
He said: “I think I was 13 at the time and in fact I’d seen Roy James, the getaway driver, racing in a racing car – so I had sort of identified with him and the whole train robbery at a young age.
“It was a story I had followed more or less for its duration, and years later I actually saw Roy James and Charlie Wilson, two of the robbers, back in court when I was researching to play a barrister in a film directed by Stephen Frears called The Hit. They were back in court to do with some VAT bullion fraud and when I went into the Old Bailey there was no one else in the viewing gallery apart from me – and then I looked down and saw six of them in the dock including those two chaps.”
The show is divided up into two episodes with the first, A Robber’s Tale, beginning with an earlier robbery at Heathrow Airport in 1962 then showing how the heist was planned, rehearsed and executed from the perspective of gang leader Bruce Reynolds
Reynolds, who died this year at the age of 81, will be played by Hollywood star Luke Evans.