The Ruffian On The Stair (1964)

BBC Third Programme comedy drama. 1 episode in 1964. Stars Kenneth Cranham, Avis Bunnage and Dermot Kelly.

The Ruffian On The Stair

Joe Orton's first radio play, starring Kenneth Cranham

Comedy Drama
BBC Third Programme
Kenneth Cranham, Avis Bunnage and Dermot Kelly
Kenneth Halliwell and Joe Orton
John Tydeman

"Madam Life's a piece in bloom
Death goes dogging everywhere:
She's the tenant of the room,
He's the ruffian on the stair."
- W.E. Henley

The Ruffian On The Stair comes from the beginning of playwright Orton's brief but acclaimed career.

The black comedy concerns a poor couple Mike (a thuggish ex-boxer from Donegal) and Joyce (a former prostitute) whose lives are turned upside-down by the arrival of Wilson, an attractive young man with a complicated recent history.

The play is directed by acclaimed BBC drama producer John Tydeman. Orton, newly released from prison, presented him with the manuscript to The Boy Hairdresser, a novel by Orton and his partner and eventual murderer, Kenneth Halliwell, which metamorphosed into The Ruffian On The Stair. Under Tydeman's guidance, Orton's subsequent work - Entertaining Mr Sloane - was staged in the West End and the writer's career took off.

Production Details

Production company

Broadcast details

First broadcast
Monday 31st August 1964 on BBC Third Programme at 8pm
Episode length
1 hour
Last repeat
Tuesday 2nd September 2014 at 3:00am on Radio 4 Extra