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Bolton's prolific Joe O'Byrne

Updated: Jan 15

Joe O'Byrne's Paradise Heights titles

From his studio in a Bolton mill, writer/director/producer/actor and prolific impressario Joe O'Byrne - labelled by some the "Salford Scorsese" or "new Jimmy McGovern" - is this year overseeing tours of six of his own plays, with more than 80 performances at theatres across the UK.

Joe says: "I'm known in particular as the creator of a series of interconnected plays, Tales from Paradise Heights, and for the award-winning stage chiller The Haunting of Blaine Manor.

"At the age of 64 I'm now the busiest I have ever been, with bookings well into next year - and there are more productions to come."

Writer Joe O'Byrne
Writer Joe O'Byrne

Joe has achieved all of this without any grants. He writes, directs, acts, produces and negotiates touring deals himself.

"But it's a team endeavour when it comes to getting the shows on stage," he says. "The casts and crews I work with are just phenomenal, they're all firm friends as I've been at it that long now; in fact we're more of a family than friends.

"All of my actors are professionally trained and have appeared on TV and film and other theatre productions. I have built a great collection of sets and costumes over the years and have a storage unit also at the mill. I'm an artist as well as a playwright but my studio is as big as most stages so it's great for rehearsals.

"The Haunting of Blaine Manor is being hailed as the new The Woman in Black and the plays that are part of my series Tales from Paradise Heights are beginning to catch up in popularity. They are five interconnected plays born from urban grit, adult tales, comedy/drama meets the supernatural, all set in the fictional northern town of Paradise Heights. The tour of the latest play in the series, thriller Strawberry Jack, opens at the Old Station Buildings in Morecambe on January 24 and continues at the Kings Arms Salford (February 3-5); The Way Studio, Leigh (February 9-10); Blackpool Grand Studio (May 31-June 2); The Muni, Colne (June 6) and Rhyl Pavilion (November 21).

"They’ve been described as Stephen King meets Jimmy McGovern and have led to me being labelled the Salford Scorsese or the New Jimmy McGovern – which is all lovely, but I have a voice and style all my own. And now 2024 looks set to be a year where I can really take off with these stories."

Northern dates for The Haunting of Blaine Manor include the Plaza, Stockport (April 26); Theatre Royal, St Helens (September 28); Victoria Theatre, Halifax (October 11); Pavilion, Rhyl (October 31) and Buxton Opera House (November 15).

More info and tickets for the Moecambe show here


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