nearly 10 years of literary failure, Orton scored his
first success. In August 1963 his 45 minute play, The
Boy Hairdresser, was accepted by the BBC Third Programme.
The play had been taken up by producer, John Tydeman,
who rescued it from BBC script readers, or ‘old
biddies’ as he phrased it. Orton originally conceived
it for the theatre and BBC producers thought it a bit
meandering and needed more careful plotting.
After three rewrites, Orton submitted the final version
of the script on December 6th and on December 23rd a revised
title, The Ruffian on the Stair. It was between his initial
submission and the final rewrite that Orton moved from
novelist to playwright. The Ruffian on the Stair was finally
broadcast on 31st August 1964.
Ruffian on the Stair was presented again in 1967 as Crimes
of Passion, a double bill of Orton plays, also featuring
The Erpingham Camp. This was again a much edited and revised
version from the radio play.
This was illustrative of Orton’s approach to writing.
The Boy Hairdresser script submitted to the BBC was a
substantial rewrite of an earlier work, in this case his
and Halliwell’s novel of the same title. Orton would
continually rework scripts and old ideas and would polish
scripts again and again until he had something he was