Knifer (musical)

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A musical tale of streetwise guile and imperial intrigue
Original Knifer Programme Cover, 1986
MusicKennedy Aitchison[1]
LyricsSteven Moffat[2]
BookSteven Moffat[2]
PremiereSeptember 8, 1986 (1986-09-08): Glasgow, Scotland
ProductionsEastwood Theatre Logo.png Search Knifer (musical) on Amazon.

Knifer is a stage musical, described as a 'comic thriller',[3] with book and lyrics by Steven Moffat, and music composed by Kennedy Aitchison.

Set in London, England in 1910, it follows the life of small time conman Knifer, and the men, women, and children around him. War is in the air, and Knifer may be about to get his big time break.[3]

This was the musical debut of Doctor Who, Sherlock and Press Gang writer Steven Moffat, which ran from 8–13 September 1986 in Glasgow's Eastwood Theatre. The music was composed and arranged by Kennedy Aitchison with lyrics by Moffat. Following on from his musical directorial debut in Peter Canwell's Carrots two years earlier,[4][5] Knifer was the first (and only) musical penned by Steven Moffat.


Knifer the musical began life as Knifer the man - a character created by Steven Moffat when directing a special version of an existing show by another writer. The character's grisly name was inspired, not by dark deeds, but simply by the lean, sharp features of Peter Connell, the actor who first played the part. As it happened, Kennedy Aitchison was Musical Director for that show, and such was the effect on the two young men of this new character that they determined to weave a musical tale based on the life and times of the remarkable Knifer. This new show is the result of that energetic and ingenious collaboration.[3]

And from the beginning they made things difficult for themselves. Knifer would be a musical with a difference. There had to be a real original story, interesting in its own right, and funny - a genuine comic thriller to hold an audience and keep it guessing. The songs would be just as intriguing - sometimes emotional and dramatic, sometimes gently wistful, sometimes downright hilarious, but always good and always there for a good reason - a real feast of musical comedy.[3]


It is 1910, and war is in the air: Europe seethes with imperialistic ambition. In London, conspiracy is rife, and the long dark tentacles of Serbia's secret societies are at work. The backstreets are stalked by sudden violence.[3]

But this is Knifer's patch, and a discovered body may just be the small time conman's big time break... Does the bloodsoaked envelope hold Knifer's own Red Letter Day? Or is the sinister Black Hand behind the killing? Who is the mysterious child, and what is his secret? What of Scarlotti, the man in the shadows?[3]

It's Knifer against Europe. It's Knifer on the Make![3]

Set in the streets of London in 1910, the hero – a comical street criminal called "Knifer" (played by Peter Connell) − is caught up in a case of international espionage.

Scenes and Songs[edit]


The original production took place from Monday 8 September to Saturday 13th September 1986, in Eastwood Theatre, Glasgow, Scotland. It was produced by Theatre Productions Scotland (TPS). Steven Moffat directed a cast of 16, and Kennedy Aitchison conducted an orchestra of 20. The set design was by Linda McKay, and Karen McIver was the Production Musical Supervisor. Peter Connell starred as Knifer; and he was supported by Louise Bradley (Gwenny), June McCreadie (The Lady), and Maura McManus (Lizzie).[3]

In 1990, the musical was performed in Johnstone Town Hall, Scotland, under the name Mean Ol' Town.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Audio clips — Kennedy Aitchison". Retrieved 2014-02-19.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Pop Cracker – Steven Moffat: The Writer Who Writes Too Well". Retrieved 2014-02-19.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 Quoted from the original theatre programme
  4. "Scottish Theatre Archive – Event Details". Retrieved 2014-02-19.
  5. "Scottish Theatre Archive – Document Details". Retrieved 2014-03-23.

External links[edit]

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