Scots stage and screen star Alex Ferns , who 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.

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. 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 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.”

The Hard Man will play major venues in Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh.