FOLLOWING on from its sell out tour last year, including a house attendance record breaking run at Buxton Festival, award winning play The Haunting of Blaine Manor is currently on its 2019 theatre tour, taking in some of the most beautiful - and haunted - theatres in England.

“I set myself that I wanted to write a period piece and I’d always wanted to write a good ghost story,” said Bolton playwright Joe O’Byrne. “It’s Hammer Horror meets M.R. James meets Hollywood glamour and actors like Vincent Price, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. And of course all hell breaks loose.”

With 40% of Brits believing that houses could be haunted, it’s hardly surprising that horror stories continue to be so popular with film and theatre-goers.

“It’s a very unsettling play,” said Joe. “It’s psychological horror mainly but we have some great special effects and the sound design is phenomenal. As a cast we all went over to a studio in Sheffield on a rainy afternoon and we all went mad in there - it’s not the monster you, it’s the monster you hear.

“There is a joy and a thrill in being scared. You get that rush of blood and adrenalin and people are coming back four or five times to watch it and bringing their friends.”

Born and bred in Bolton, John admits it’s a huge thrill to bring his play to his hometown.

“One of this tour’s high points for me is going to be playing the Albert Halls in Bolton, the most historical and prestigious venue in my home town,” he said. “I did some research for the play on mediums and hauntings and was fascinated to discover that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle developed quite an interest in the paranormal. He even attended quite a few seances and haunted buildings, indeed he lectured on it and left himself open to ridicule from cynics.

“For the play, I created a fictional medium called Adolphus Scarabus who utters the line: “Even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had to deal with cynics.” I then found out Conan Doyle delivered a lecture on the supernatural at The Albert Halls in Bolton, in the very theatre that the play will be performed in. When I wrote the play I obviously had no idea it would become as successful as it has, it could have just disappeared, to have that line uttered in the same room is fabulous.”

Joe, 60, who is a former Smithall Schools pupil, said he was inspired by his English teacher to pursue a career in drama.

“I had the kind of family where you had to go out and earn a living and stop all this arty-farty business,” he said. “But I was a bit of a dreamer and when I was 35 I decided to leave retail management and try some acting. I found myself writing and directing and I’ve had a whale of a time.”

The Haunting of Blaine Manor is at Bolton Albert Halls Theatre on Friday, October 11 at 7.30pm. Tickets from