Stage star Alex Ferns to become ‘The Hard Man’

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CELEBRATED Scots stage and screen star Alex Ferns, who chillingly portrayed one of television’s most hated villains, Trevor Morgan in Eastenders, is set to play the part of Johnnie Byrne in the Scottish Theatres Consortium’s new production of Tom McGrath’s and Jimmy Boyle’s The Hard Man this spring.

Coming to Aberdeen as part of a national tour, The Hard Man will play at His Majesty’s Theatre from Tuesday to Saturday, April 26 to 30.

The Hard Man is based on the early years and subsequent imprisonment of Jimmy Boyle, once reputed to be the most violent man in Scotland. In 1967 he was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of another gangland figure, a crime that Boyle has always denied committing. During his incarceration in the Special Unit of Barlinnie Prison, he turned to art and wrote A Sense of Freedom, his autobiography.

In 1977 he co-wrote The Hard Man with Tom McGrath and it premiered at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh to great acclaim from audiences and critics alike. Tom McGrath was a radical Scottish poet and playwright until his untimely death in 2009 known best for his plays The Hard Man, Animals and Laurel and Hardy.

The Hard Man is a fast moving story set in a variety of locations on Clydeside and in Scottish prisons. The characters are a heady mixture of accurate observation and comic strip cartoon – and the style, an unnerving blend of vaudeville and violence.

“The name Jimmy Boyle was very much part of my upbringing and to play this part is exciting and daunting at the same time” said Alex Ferns.

“I hope I will do justice to Tom McGrath’s name and his work.”

With strong language, violence and nudity, it is recommended for an audience aged 15+.

Tickets are on sale now, online at or by phone at 01224 641122.

The Scottish Theatres Consortium represents Scotland’s largest and most prolific presenting theatres; together selling in excess of 1.5m theatre tickets each year and generating annual ticket sales of almost £20m.

Over the next three years the STC will be producing and co-producing many more productions and tours – all designed to enrich the lives of theatre-going audiences in Scotland.