Kevin Barry Laffan was a British playwright, screenwriter, author, actor and stage director. Laffan is best known for creating the ITV soap opera Emmerdale Farm, now titled Emmerdale.
Raised in a family of fourteen children, Laffan's Catholic upbringing formed the inspiration for many of his plays. Laffan's theatrical career began with a position as a call boy at the Theatre Royal in Bilston, and would eventually lead to him founding a repertory company in Reading. In later life, Laffan also branched out into fiction, publishing his début novel, Virgins are in Short Supply, in 2001.
Early life and theatre career
Laffan was the third of fourteen children of a disabled Irish photographer. The family moved to Walsall while he was a child. When he was twelve, they were sent to the workhouse and he claimed to have escaped by jumping off the lorry as it drove through the gates. An elderly actress allowed him to sleep in her kitchen and advised him, "If you want to be serious, make them laugh". At 14 he became a call boy at the Theatre Royal in Bilston, and rose to be a stage manager, an actor and a director. In his teens, he also supplemented his acting income by working on a farm for six months, which gave him insight into farming as a way of life when he came to write Emmerdale Farm. In the early 1950s he started his own repertory company at the Everyman Theatre in Reading; he was its artistic director until 1958.