Saturday 18 November 2017

Joe Orton Laid Bare on BBC Two

I know this isn't strictly a Carry On blog but I've long been fascinated by the life and work of the late playrwright Joe Orton. I first discovered Joe through his appearances in Kenneth Williams' diaries; the pair became great friends in the mid 1960s and Kenneth even starred in the first production of Joe's play Loot in 1965.

Joe and Kenneth shared an interesting bond despite having quite different outlooks on life and their lives. I went on to read Joe Orton's published diaries and have enjoyed several of his plays and the film of his life, Prick Up Your Ears. BBC Two are going to broadcast a special tribute documentary to Joe Orton next weekend, as part of commemorations of 50 years since his early, traumatic death. 

Joe Orton Laid Bare celebrates the wit, work and world of groundbreaking sixties playwright Joe Orton in his own words and those of friends and colleagues. 50 years since his murder at the hands of his lover Kenneth Halliwell, the film charts Joe's brief meteoric rise and tragic demise, and celebrates his unique comic voice as well as his significant role in the culture of 60s swinging London.

Antony Sher, Freddie Fox and Jaime Winstone lead an all-star ensemble cast, bringing to life excerpts of Orton's hilarious work for the TV generation, while Bryan Dick plays Orton himself, walking the viewer through the streets Joe inhabited and using his diary to revive the voice of one of Britain's most controversial comic writers.

The film builds to a tense and surprising conclusion as the circumstances of Joe's death are re-examined and new evidence reveals a sinister and powerful figure at the centre of events that led to his murder. Interviewees include Kenneth Cranham, Sir Michael Codron, Christopher Hampton, Patricia Routledge, Orton biographer John Lahr and Joe's sister Leonie.

Joe Orton Laid Bare will be broadcast on BBC Two on Saturday 25 November at 9pm. You can find out more about Joe Orton and his work at 

You can read my blog on the friendship between Kenneth and Joe here: Carry On Blogging: Kenneth and Joe

And you can read more on Kenneth's reaction to Joe Orton's death in 1967 in my blog here: Carry On Blogging: July 1967 through the eyes of Kenneth Williams 

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan on Facebook and on Instagram

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