William Gallagher
William Gallagher

All About William Gallagher

William Gallagher lives in the West Midlands and works across the UK and America. He’s a drama writer who says: “I became a Doctor Who author the instant I could talk my way into the job and you would now have to run me out of town before I’d give that up.”

William Gallagher is the author of Doctor Who radio dramas plus books for the British Film Institute and Radio Times. He’s a journalist who’s been a columnist on BBC News Online and whose work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and The Independent. He’s international correspondent for US technology websites.

As well as writing drama for previous Doctors Colin Baker and Peter Davison, William has written and shot videos for Radio Times with David Tennant and produced films about Torchwood and Strictly Come Dancing. His first short film as a writer, Present Tense and he’s written for ITV’s Crossroads plus the Birmingham Repertory Theatre.

“I’m a writer, it is all I am and I think all I was ever meant to do,” says William. “I would be going in to schools now through sheer passion for writing and drama but I have another reason too. When I was at school, I believed writing was something other people did. I read books, I loved books and theatre but that wasn’t something someone like me could do.”

“Except once, just once, I was quite brave and told my careers teacher that I wanted to be a writer. To this day I don’t know what made me admit it that day – but also to this day I can’t forget what happened. The teacher laughed at me and got the whole class to laugh too. You can imagine how much that damaged me. I just know that if a writer, just an ordinary writer like me, had come in to my school my real career would’ve started ten years sooner than it did.”

“Schools today are so much better but if I can’t go back in time to my old one, I can come to yours. Officially I’m teaching the pupils about ideas and collaboration and writing. Unofficially but even more vital to me is that I’m showing them both the reality of being a working writer and the fact that there are careers they can do that will ignite them throughout their lives. I’m not shy about this, am I?”

William Gallagher’s School Visits

William works with children from year 4 up through the whole of secondary school plus sixth form and both further education colleges and universities. He also runs CPD workshops for staff ranging from primary school teachers through to university professors. He does one-to-one mentoring with older children and teenagers plus he’s spoken to 300 at a time in assemblies. Most often he works with groups of between 15 and 25 pupils either in a single whole-day session or split into many sessions with different groups each hour.

Primary School Visits

Every school is different and William is keen to discuss in advance with teachers what will get their pupils the very best he can give them. Typically, though, his primary days tend to run in one of three different forms.

“My favourite is Play in a Day,” says William. “Especially if the kids are younger, we’ll really do it as a Doctor Who Play in a Day and what the kids get to do starts with expressing their enthusiasms for Daleks and the Tardis, then uses those to focus on storytelling. I ask them what every Doctor Who story must have and once they’ve said the Doctor and monsters, we talk about beginnings, middles and endings.”

“A full day is a long session for them so I break it up into episodes. We end up with them writing individually and together so they’re learning about expressing ideas and persuading others, listening to others and  finding the best between them. Then we spend a lot of time on our feet as we devise, write and then perform a whole play at the end of the day.”

That play can be performed for the school but most often because of time it’s done within the classroom where the story is divided into sections and pupils get to be participants one moment, audience the next. “I give you fair warning, though, if we do Doctor Who then the pupils always vote to make their favourite teacher play the monster.”

An alternative and deliciously hectic version of this is to do a Doctor Who play in an hour. William does this when a school has him for many different classes during a day: “It means I get to work with more kids,” he says, “though it also means by the end of the day the last lot have heard so much from the ones before that I’m under enormous pressure to make the best of the day – so of course I get them to make exactly that.”

One last type of session isn’t drama at all: William has taught journalism to kids as young as 8. “This one definitely works best in single- or double lessons rather than full days as I get each class to devise a news website and then write for it. When we do it in a short time then there is just enough pressure on the pupils to both make it thrilling and to secretly teach them what it’s actually like working in the real world with deadlines.”

Secondary School Visits

William runs script writing, Play in a Day and journalism workshops in secondary schools where the core idea is the same as for primary schools but the detail is progressively more involved.

Typical sessions begin with an apparently simple written exercise that has the pupils writing very little each and then passing their work around to be continued by others. It’s simple and straightforward yet at the end of it they have unknowingly written a scene of a play and we get to examine what they’ve done. “We of course cover the clear essentials of telling stories and creating characters but this particular exercise gets them seeing how much you can say with a very few words,” says William. “It frees them of the anxiety that they’ve got to produce a proper play and then they can see just how much and how well they write. It’s eye-opening for them and for me, especially as we then perform these scenes and they get to see how something on the page becomes something else on its feet.”

Communication and collaboration are key in every version of this workshop but William focuses the pupils on those more by adding in real-world constraints. Giving them an insight to what really happens and is really required in broadcast dramas and short stories, he makes them work within the difficulties and challenges that mean having to compromise, to trade your ideas and make sure the best ones are made along with the best use of the resources that they would have available in industry.

This is the case both in day-long workshops at secondary schools and in rotation where William gets to spend one hour or one session with different classes. Depending on the classes and the scheduling, William’s work with these schools results in scripts they can perform there and then or that they can later film in collaboration with your school’s drama groups.

William has also been commissioned for specific longer-form projects in secondary schools such as creating a play or writing an entire book over a series of sessions. “Usually this is with a school’s more gifted pupils and is a way to both reward their efforts and stretch their abilities. However, recently a school asked me to create a book with their more difficult children. Staff were concerned that these kids were within two years of serious exams and would not be able to sit still long enough for them. They wanted me to teach them concentration and concerted effort. I’m proud to tell you that after the first session, I had got about a paragraph of writing out of the kids and after the fourth and final one, I was getting two sides.”

How to create and edit Magazines, Newspapers and Websites. Learn and apply the differences between writing news articles, interviews and features. Find out what skills editors and journalists need plus the discipline of deadlines and why redrafting, rewriting are required. For older age groups this day includes the people skills needed and gets the kids to reject William’s article ideas so that they understand both that rejection is normal and why it has to happen.

Sixth Form, FE and University

William has written the course promotional materials for university radio modules and lectured to students about script writing, fiction and novels plus the practice of being a working author, scriptwriter and journalist.

Usually William will contribute to specific modules and will adapt his workshops in consultation with the lecturers.

Staff CPD

William runs evening and out of term time day sessions for teachers and lecturers. “When I do this I am focusing specifically on you, the teacher, but we both know that you’ll share lessons learned with your classes. You can’t help but think of them first so as we go I do also tell you how ideas have been used before plus we talk about how you can apply them to help your pupils.”

Staff CPD includes the same scriptwriting and drama work that William teaches pupils plus a creative productivity workshop called The Blank Screen. This is part of a whole series by William that includes books, literary festival workshops, teleseminars and a news website about becoming productive, making the most of your time but doing so in order to keep being creative. How to manage time, to cope with pressures and distractions, how to get things started for yourself and keep them running even as you face the difficulties of term time.

What facilities will William need when he visits your school?

He is partial to school dinners, especially if you have curry. Otherwise, the pupils will need unbound A4 paper: sheets that they can pass around as they work together. “I have excerpts from my radio Doctor Who work that kids can hear plus if there is projection or screen equipment I can show them how those look on the page when I wrote them,” says William. “But I’m much less interested in telling them what I do, I want to show them how to do it themselves. So I’ll write a lot on whiteboards and the kids will laugh a lot at how bad my handwriting is and that’s all the equipment I really need.”

William’s Books and Dramas

William’s Amazon Author page link: http://amzn.to/1qXyqRZ

Doctor Who: Wirrn Isle

Full-cast radio drama starring Colin Baker as the Doctor.
The year is 16127. Four decades have passed since the colonists of Nerva Beacon returned to repopulate the once-devastated planet Earth – and the chosen few are finding the business of survival tough.
Far beyond the sterile safety of sanitised Nerva City, transmat scientist Roger Buchman has brought his family to an island surrounded by what they once called Loch Lomond, hoping to re-establish the colony he was forced to abandon many years before.
But something else resides in the Loch. A pestilent alien infestation that the Doctor, beaming in from Nerva City, remembers only too well from his time aboard the Beacon…
The Wirrn are back. And they’re hungry.         

Doctor Who: Scavenger

Full-cast radio drama starring Colin Baker as the Doctor.
Thursday 28 May 2071: the day the Anglo-Indian Salvage 2 rocket launches. Its mission: to clean up space; to remove from Earth’s orbit over a century’s worth of man-made junk…
From the viewing window of a nearby space station, the Doctor and Flip have a unique view of Salvage 2 as it sets about its essential task – and of the disaster that unfolds when Salvage 2 encounters something it’s not been programmed to deal with. Something not of human manufacture…
Back on Earth, the Doctor fights to save Flip from becoming part of a 500-year tragedy being played out in orbit, hundreds of miles above. And millions will die if he fails.

Doctor Who: Spaceport Fear

Full-cast radio drama starring Colin Baker as the Doctor with Bonnie Langford and Ronald Pickup.
Welcome to Tantane Spaceport – where the tribes of Business and Economy have been at war for all of four hundred years…
Welcome to Tantane Spaceport – where a terrible creature called the Wailer prowls the corridors around the Control Tower, looking to eat the unwary…
Welcome to Tantane Spaceport – where there is one Arrival: a battered blue Police Box containing the time-travelling Doctor and his companion, Mel…
Welcome to Tantane Spaceport – where there are no Departures. Ever.

Doctor Who: Doing Time

Full-cast radio drama starring Peter Davison as the Doctor.
On the planet Folly, justice catches up with criminal mastermind ‘The Doctor’ – but can he endure a year in the jug?

BFI Television Classics: The Beiderbecke Affair – British Film Institute 2012

With as little plot as its creator Alan Plater could get away with and as much jazz as he could manage, the 1985 television drama The Beiderbecke Affair had a far-reaching impact, inspiring sequels, novels, albums and even jazz tours. Much like its Bix Beiderbecke-style soundtrack, Plater’s quietly joyous drama was unconventional, free: its narrative following the lives and relationships of its leading characters – teachers-turned-amateur detectives Trevor Chaplin (James Bolam) and Jill Swinburne (Barbara Flynn) – with a gentle, whimsical humour.

William Gallagher’s illuminating study is the first critical account of this much-loved series. Drawing on interviews with cast members and musicians, the production team and Yorkshire TV executives, as well as on insights from Plater himself, Gallagher explores Beiderbecke’s origins in Plater’s 1981 tv drama Get Lost! before moving on to an in-depth analysis of the series itself, to reveal why such an unassuming series remains one of the best-loved examples of British television drama.

The book also includes a previously unpublished BBC Radio 4 short story featuring the character of Jill Swinburne, ‘A Brief Encounter with Richard Wagner’.

Radio Times Cover Story – Immediate Media 2014

To flick through the covers of Radio Times over the past 90 years is to watch a popular history of Britain unfold. Royal weddings and funerals that mark out our age. Momentous events. The outbreak of war and peace, Moon landings and even a victorious World Cup. Household names being created, stars being born. The hopeful new show that turns out to be the one that defines a decade. All grace the cover of Radio Times.

Radio Times is Britain’s bestselling quality magazine – and it has been since the first issue appeared in 1923 – at its peak selling more than 11 million copies each week. Through the radio age, the birth of colour TV and the 21st-century explosion of digital channels, Radio Times has innovated and prospered. Along the way it has showcased the finest illustrators and photographers. The likes of Eric Fraser, Edward Ardizzone, Nick Park, Bailey, Patrick Lichfield and Snowdon have all created remarkable images for Radio Times – helping to create unforgettable magazine covers that resonate today.

Celebrate Radio Times’ 90th anniversary with a 288 page beautiful book that features more than 400 iconic covers from nine decades of a publishing legend, written by the esteemed Radio Times team.

Recommendations and Reviews

“Thanks so much for your wonderfully inspiring and enjoyable session” – Judith Kneen, Newman University, 

“Love this book [The Blank Screen], it is clever and witty and genuinely grapples with making an extra hour (or two) in the day. Inspiring and liberating. A real Can-Do manual. No creative should be without it.” – Barbara Machin, creator of Waking the Dead

“William gives you little nuggets of gold. Advice that seems so simple and straightforward, that you don’t always recognise its true value immediately, but which makes a huge difference to your writing. He is always there at the end of an email so in a sense the workshop keeps going. It’s terrific value for money. Oh, and don’t forget to ask him about the 5 a.m money jar technique.” – Maeve Clarke, novelist

“William Gallagher’s workshop on productivity for writers is an important part of our programme of writer development training. These type of events give the Birmingham Literature Festival a strong link with emerging as well as established writers.” – Jonathan Davidson, Chief Executive, Writing West Midlands

“Major gratitude for having been lucky enough to go to a FREE workshop on Creative Productivity by William Gallagher.  William has a book out called The Blank Screen which I haven’t read but if it’s anything like his workshop it will be brilliant.  He also has a webpage http://www.williamgallagher.com which is a must read for anyone self-employed and struggling with time management – you don’t have to be a creative type, his tips are good across the board.  In my opinion.” – Anne Marie Scanlon, journalist and writer

“All of the parents of the children whose scripts I sent to you described it as the highlight of the year!” – Anne Cochrane, Putteridge Primary School, Bedfordshire

“The Blank Screen by William Gallagher – Buy this book. This guy is great. If his book is anywhere near as good as his workshop, you’ll learn a lot. I will definitely be buying it.” – Carneika Natalie Washbrook, workshop attendee

“Most of the students came to the day not knowing what to expect, but having read their feedback forms, every single one of them now feels as though they have learnt more… about careers in the TV industry. Our students thrive when their learning is both active and ‘real’, as it was yesterday. To sum up my thanks, I thought I would pass on a comment from one of our parents who emailed me this morning: ‘I hear yesterday was a great success. Charlotte thought it was totally brilliant, talked about it all evening, wants to be a tv writer, spent the evening writing ideas!’” – Rosie Moss, Baxter College School

“The pupils had a great day and were buzzing in their English lessons yesterday, especially one of the lads who got your autograph!” – Melissa Bennett, Holly Lodge School

Doctor Who reviews:

“Absolutely terrifying. The economy of the storytelling and the growing horror is superbly done. What an insane, nasty idea… That’s the sort of intelligence William Gallagher injects into his script. I would advise that you listen to this one in the dark. You won’t regret it.” – Doc Oho

“The scene in which her blood has frozen her to the ice as the Wirrn begin to emerge is a truly nerve shredding moment and Greenwood sells every moment of it. Wirrn Isle is a very good play; a powerful family drama set amongst a horrific science fiction setting that.. has enough strong ideas and excellent moments to linger in the memory.” – Doctor Who Online

To Make a Booking

To make an enquiry about William Gallagher, or any of the other authors, poets & illustrators listed on this website, please phone Trevor Wilson on +44 (0) 1535 656015, or email him at trevor@caboodlebooks.co.uk