The Barren Author

Richard O’Brien from Rocky Horror Picture Show and Sophie Aldred from Doctor Who star in The Barren Author inspired by the stories of Baron Munchausen by Rudolf Erich Raspe. The Barren Author takes a satirical turn from the stories of Baron Munchausen, in an absurd spirit of the classic tales. Re-imagining them for modern audience, an immersive experience, with something dark underlying the surface of the witty comedy.

Listen to The Barren Author series 1 now, available for download on Spiteful Puppet –


Richard O’Brien

He’s the creator of Rocky Horror Picture Show, he’s written musical after musical and starred in Flash Gordon, Richard O’Brien just doesn’t seem to stop…

Words: Colleen Considine

Rocky Horror Picture Show creator Richard O’Brien is a lightbulb of ideas who at 79 just doesn’t seem to stop. Having most recently played The Brigadier in The Barren Author, a 6-part audio series inspired by the stories of Baron Munchausen by Rudolf Erich. And of course, you’ll know O’Brien from the Rocky Horror Picture Show, he wrote the musical stage show in 1973. It has remained with an almost continuous production, with him then co-writing the screenplay of the film adaption, The Rocky Horror Picture Show in 1975. He also appeared in the film as Riff Raff, and the film became in international success and received a large cult following.

However, O’Brien didn’t start with the Rocky Horror Picture Show, he was born in Cheltenham in 1942, and it was aged 10 when he and his family emigrated to New Zealand. He then returned to England in 1964 and took acting classes where he joined several productions. It was in 1970 he entered the touring production of Hair for nine months. He then spent another nine months doing the London production.

In the Summer of 1972 when he met director Jim Sharman who cast him as an Apostle and Leper in the London production of Jesus Christ Superstar. It was Sharman who helped make O’Brien’s draft of a gothic horror-themed comic book fantasy romp into a reality. He suggested changing the working title of ‘They Came from Denton High’ to the iconic ‘The Rocky Horror Show’. And so, it opened at the Theatre Upstairs in June 1973 and within weeks it became a box-office hit, with it moving from the Royal Court to the Pheasantry in Kings Road, and eventually into the West End at the Comedy Theatre.

Jonathan King, a London-based record producer and singer-songwriter saw the second night’s performance of The Rocky Horror Show in the Theatre Upstairs. During an off-stage weekend he produced the original cast soundtrack in just over 48 hours and rushed it out on his UK Records label. He also became a 20% backer with Michael Waite who put up the remaining 80%.

With arranger Richard Hartley, O’Brien continued to write musicals, T. Zee in 1976, Disaster in 1978, The Stripper in 1982 and Top People in 1984. As well as this, O’Brien also appeared in Jubilee in 1977, Flash Gordon in 1980, and Dungeons & Dragons in 2000. You might also know Richard O’Brien for being presenter of Channel 4’s game show, The Crystal Maze which ran from 1990-95 but O’Brien left the show in 93. The show was taken over by Edward Tudor-Pole and after two series without O’Brien, the show was cancelled.

More recently O’Brien voiced the role of Lawrence Fletcher in the Disney Channel animated series Phineas and Ferb. As well as voicing Spiteful Puppets The Brigadier in The Barren Author series 1, he is returning for the second series to reprise the character again. There’s much more to come from Richard O’Brien.