The Ruffian On The Stair (1964)

  • Radio comedy drama
  • BBC Third Programme
  • 1964
  • 1 episode

Joe Orton's first radio play, starring Kenneth Cranham. Also features Avis Bunnage and Dermot Kelly.

Key details

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

Additional details


Broadcast details

First broadcast
Monday 31st August 1964 at 8pm on BBC Third Programme
Episode length
1 hour
All previous repeats
  • Tuesday 2nd September 2014 at 3:00am on Radio 4 Extra
  • Monday 1st September 2014 at 3:00pm on Radio 4 Extra
  • Monday 1st September 2014 at 10:00am on Radio 4 Extra

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