Twists and turn as the Verdict is in

Audiences can expect plenty of twists and turns when the Agatha Christie Theatre Company returns to Norwich Theatre Royal next week with Verdict. Joining the all-star cast is former Emmerdale bad boy Lyndon Ogbourne. EMMA LEE finds out if he's turned over a new leaf.

He's known for playing a character that's Wylde by name – and wild by nature.

But audiences will have a chance to see a different side to former Emmerdale actor Lyndon Ogbourne when he stars in Verdict, which opens at Norwich Theatre Royal next week.

The play is the latest production from the acclaimed Agatha Christie Theatre Company and is one of the few original plays written by the queen of crime fiction which is not based on a book or short story.

More of a psychological thriller than the 'whodunit' you might expect, it follows the story of the brilliant Professor Karl Hendryk whose life is turned upside down when he takes on a new pupil. Her plotting and planning lead to murderous intentions and a host of twists and turns.

The play also touches upon topics which are still at the top of the news agenda today, such as euthanasia.

Lyndon, who recently joined the cast, plays Lester Cole – a keen student, who's a real departure from his Emmerdale alter ego.

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'He's a working class lad – a nice change from Nathan, who's a posh sod,' he laughs. 'He's very keen to be educated and has been lucky enough to be taken under the wing of the professor, who's the main character in the play.

'He lives at this country mansion at the time when the murder happens. As well as being a working class lad, he's very much in awe of the professor and tries to help him through this sad time.'

Is he a fan of Christie's work?

'She's an incredible writer,' he says. 'The reason the books and plays are so popular is because they ring many bells and are relevant to today.'

Lyndon stars alongside a host of household names including Susan Penhaligon, whose CV includes Upstairs, Downstairs and Bouquet of Barbed Wire, Robert Duncan, best-known as Gus Hedges in Drop the Dead Donkey, 1960s pop favourite turned stage actor Mark Wynter and former EastEnders actress Elizabeth Power.

He says that he's enjoying working with such an accomplished cast.

'I'm lucky to be surrounded by people like that. It gives me an opportunity to learn,' he says.

Lyndon started acting at the age of six before studying drama at Swindon College and training at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.

As well as starring in Emmerdale, he has also appeared in a number of other top TV shows, including Spooks, Robin Hood and Doctors.

What was it that made him want to become an actor?

'There's an amazing arts scene in Swindon. And my grandad was quite a successful actor – I think it was seeing him getting away with being an actor as a career!

'A lot of people are steered away from it. It's a risky profession, I've been lucky to have a few breaks. I went to LAMDA – it's an amazing school to be part of,' he says.

And, of course, another of those breaks was getting the chance to star in a top-rated soap. It's clear he relished the role of the baby-faced bad boy. In fact, it was partly down to Lyndon that Nathan turned out the way he did.

'I felt very honoured to be part of it,' Lyndon says. 'I was given the chance to create this corrupt, twisted character. Nathan wasn't supposed to be like that, but I sat down and chatted to the producers and managed to shape the way I played him.

'I thought that if I was going to be in a soap I was going to make sure I left my mark. And I'm really chuffed I was able to create a character that stuck in peoples' minds,' he says.

Lyndon is looking forward to his week in Norwich.

'I know Norfolk, mainly because of Alan Partridge,' he laughs. 'I've been lucky enough to be a professional actor since I was 12 – and probably the last time I came to Norwich was when I was in a production of the Famous Five. Saying that, the girl who played my sister in Emmerdale [Alice Coulthard], her husband's family lives in Norfolk and we quite often go to parties – I've had a lot of fun in Norfolk.'

n Verdict is at Norwich Theatre Royal from August 1-6, �22-�5.50, 01603 630000,