For the past six months, Tristan Gemmill has watched as audiences become transfixed by the drama that is unfolding in front of them on stage every night.

And as he prepares to come to Blackpool’s Grand Theatre with 12 Angry Men from tomorrow he admits it has been an amazing experience.

“I can see how people might think ‘it’s just 12 blokes in a room. how can I sit through that for two hours’,” he said, “but it so well constructed that you don’t notice time passing.

Bury Times: Tristan Gemmill in 12 Angry Men (Picture: Jack Merriman)

“You can sense that the audience is hooked early on and are just waiting for the next thing to happen. Every night you can hear a pin drop which is quite remarkable.”

Arguably the ultimate courtroom drama, 12 Angry Men features the jury deliberating on the fate of a 16-year-old boy facing the death penalty for murder.

The film version starred Henry Fonda as juror number eight who is not convinced that the boy is guilty beyond reasonable doubt. Tensions rise in the jury room with juror number three, Tristan’s character, becoming the loudest voice pushing for conviction.

Juror number three was played by Lee J Cobb in the movie.

“His performance is untouchable,” said Tristan. “I have deliberately tried not to imitate him at all.

Bury Times: Tristan Gemmill in 12 Angry Men                                                   (Pictures: Jack Merriman)

“Juror three is certainly loud and at times some of his behaviour can be seen to be a bit bonkers but he’s not stupid. Irrational at times maybe but a lot of the points he makes are actually very valid.”

The key for Tristan was making him believable for the audience.

“For me he has to believe his own arguments,” he said. “He’s not just saying all these things for the sake of it. He is sincere in his convictions.”

Although written 70 years ago, Tristan believes that 12 Angry Men is remarkably relevant today.

“This production is a revival of a show from the West End 10 years ago and I’d say it is even more topical now than it was then,” he said. “We experienced the explosion of social media in that time and people questioning what is the truth.

“The question at the heart of the play is are people believing something which they want to believe or is it something that objectively is the truth?”

He also believes that the timing of the play fits in with our appetite for true crime dramas and murder mysteries.

“Let’s face it we all seem to love a crime drama,” he said. “In one respect this play is a reverse engineered murder. As it goes on the audience is drip fed more and more information and just as with the jurors that begins to sway their opinions as to whether the accused is guilty or not.

“It is a very tense piece because the stakes are so high. If found guilty the accused isn’t just going to get 18 months in jail. He’s 16 and facing the electric chair which means can you convict him even if you believe him to be guilty? Can you be so sure?

“And although the idea of a young boy facing the death penalty doesn’t sit in the modern world, it works brilliantly as a dramatic device. You can feel the tension.”

12 Angry Men has been earning rave reviews as it has toured the country - proof, if ever it was needed, that a good story well told can captivate an audience.

“The idea of a well-made play might sound boring or conservative,” said Tristan, “but there is a real appetite for quality drama.

“I think it helps because we have been so lucky with the cast. We have got a brilliant group - they are all lovely blokes.”

The cast includes Jason Merrells and Gray O’Brien, who like Tristan have appeared in Coronation Street and former EastEnder, Michael Greco.

Read also: 'An example of what theatre can do rather brilliantly' says Jason Merrells

“Everyone is comfortable with each other,” said Tristan. “Due to the structure of the play all 12 of us are on stage all the time in the jury room. There’s a certain equality to it, you all feel like you are in the same boat. It’s not like you do your bit, go off stage for 20 minutes and then come back on for another scene.

“It’s like passing the ball from one to another. You don’t want to be the one who drops the ball. It is a great responsibility but we all trust each other so much. It’s a lovely feeling night after night to be able to do that.”

12 Angry Men is Tristan’s first major theatre tour for a while. He is perhaps best known for his TV work which includes playing consultant Adam Trueman in the long-running BBC medical drama Casualty for four years and as Tracy Barlow’s former husband Robert Preston in Coronation Street.

“I did a play last year but before that it’s been a while,” he said. “But stage or television it’s all part of being an actor. There might be slightly different technical things to master but to me the important thing is is it a good part?

Bury Times: Tristan Gemmill

“I must confess I’d seen the revival 10 years ago and I’ve always wanted to be in it ever since, so this is a bit of a dream came true.”

12 Angry Men is certainly a different role from Tristan’s last outing on stage - as Abanazar in pantomime in Blackburn.

“Goodness, that was such hard work,” he laughed. “I loved it but it was so exhausting doing three shows a day. I’d never done a panto where there were school only matinees. So to get 700 kids, all having been told by their teachers they could be as loud as they want, was an experience. The sound guy measured the noise at one show as being 109 decibels, that’s slightly louder than a pneumatic drill and slightly less than a jumbo jet!”

12 Angry Men, Blackpool Grand Theatre, Monday, April 29 to Saturday, May 4. Details from