Hull’s Own Barrie Rutter To Make First Public Appearance Following Cancer Treatment

Barrie Rutter
’s Own Barrie Rutter To Make First Public Appearance Following Cancer Treatment

A Night Upstairs With Barrie Rutter, November 14th, 7.30pm at the Wrecking Ball Arts Centre, Wrecking Ball Music & Books.

Barrie Rutter’s last appearance in public was in January 2020 at Hull Truck, sharing the stage with his friend and colleague Eliza Carthy. The audience was unaware that two days previously he had been diagnosed with throat cancer.

Six weeks of daily Radiotherapy at the Bexley Cancer Wing in Leeds followed shortly after, the first lockdown falling exactly in the middle of his treatment.

Barrie said: “That Monday the M62 was like a Christmas morning. The Patients Ambulance that transported 5 or 6 of us at a time to our appointments became my personal chauffeur, and the sad sight of the blanketed grand piano where previous volunteers had greeted us with sweet sounds from Cher to Chopin, displayed its triangular ‘Closed for Covid’ cardboard sign in miserable isolation.”

The screaming irony of a monster attacking an Actor’s throat – the loss of quality, timbre; loss of volume, vocal cords totally – was placated by a successful treatment result following a scan in early August. But the voice still had to be tested. Not so fast, said the capricious Gods…..the same scan showed a growing ugly nodule in the right lung.

“When sorrows come, They come not Single Spies but in battalions” (Hamlet).

A biopsy was not possible as Barrie’s diaphragm was blocking the path of the needle, so in April this year keyhole surgery removed a ‘wedge’ of the lung.

Barrie added: “In the Operating I was offered a choice of music; choosing Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee I sailed away to oblivion on a bluesy cakewalk rhythm with the image of the whole surgical team boogying gently with me.”

The nodule was malignant, but again the mighty NHS delivered a positive outcome after the follow-up scan showed clean tissue.

Luckily the cancers were Primaries, not linked or metastasised, as indeed is Barrie’s slow-growing Prostate Cancer.

“Oh yes, that’s there as well,” added Barrie. “It’s the ‘Freeman, Hardy and Willis’ of an attack force on the body.”

Born in 1946, the son of a fish worker, Rutter grew up in a two-up two-down on the Hessle Road, the fish dock area of Hull. His acting career began colourfully, invited by an English teacher into the school play because he “had the gob for it”.

A Night Upstairs with Barrie Rutter is an intimate and entertaining choice of readings, memories and anecdotes from someone who will always have the gob for it. From the RSC and the National Theatre, where he first worked closely with Tony Harrison and discovered a passion for performing in the Northern voice, to establishing his groundbreaking theatre company, Northern Broadsides.

From the company’s humble beginnings in 1992, surviving hand-to-mouth on a shoestring budget, to winning numerous awards, culminating in the country’s largest and most lucrative arts prize – Creative Briton 2000.

Barrie’s “Night Upstairs” will be his first public show since January 2020, again in Hull.

Wrecking Ball Music & Books in Whitefriargate will welcome him back onto a public platform. Join us and celebrate an evening delivered by another ‘son of ‘Ull.

Tickets are £15 from Wrecking Ball Music & Books or online at

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