Born Ballymoney, Northern Ireland on 22 January 1940. Educated Queens University, 1958-62, Honours Degree in Law. During the 1960s he was a professional actor in Belfast, Dublin and London.
As a professional writer, Bill's first plays were: an adaptation of Farquhar's LOVE AND A BOTTLE (Dublin Theatre Festival, Gate Theatre, 1966); LAUGH BUT LISTEN WELL (Dublin Festival, Gaiety Theatre, 1967); CONN AND THE CONQUERORS OF SPACE (Gardiner Arts Centre, Brighton, then London Arts Theatre, 1972); PLEASE DON’T SHOOT ME WHEN I’M DOWN (Stables, Manchester, 1969).
He was Resident Playwright for Peter Cheeseman at the Victoria Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent from 1969 and his plays for the Vic were: JUPITER-5; an adaptation of Hardy's TESS OF THE D’URBERVILLES published by MacMillan; ALADDIN AND HIS MAGIC LAMP which he also directed and THE TIME TRAVELLERS.
In the 1970s, Bill wrote PATRICK’S DAY (1972) for the Long Wharf
Theatre, New Haven, USA. For the ICA, London: SAM SLADE IS MISSING (1974), published in Best Short Plays of 1973 in USA. THE LOVE OF LADY MARGARET for BBC Radio 3, subsequently staged in London in 1973. ELLEN CASSIDY also for BBC Radio 3 in 1974, staged at Liverpool Everyman in 1978. THE GREAT GUN-RUNNING EPISODE for BBC Radio 4 in 1972. Adapted Dostoevsky's CRIME AND PUNISHMENT for BBC Radio 3 in 1975 and Raymond Chandler's THE BIG SLEEP, THE HIGH WINDOW, THE LADY IN THE LAKE, THE LITTLE SISTER and THE LONG GOODBYE for BBC Radio 4, 1977-78. Wrote SIMPSON AND SON for BBC Radio 3 (1977) and MAGUIRE for BBC Radio 4 (1979). Moore's THE EMPEROR OF ICE-CREAM adapted for BBC Radio 4 then staged at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin (1977). On TV: MCKINLEY AND SARAH transmitted BBC 2 in 1973; JOGGERS for BBC 1 (1978). Resident Writer, Liverpool Everyman, 1977-79. Founding Board member then Chair of Merseyside Young People’s Theatre, 1979-89. Among the original founders of the Theatre Writers Union and its first Chair. THE IRISH IMMIGRANTS TALE, Liverpool Everyman, 1976. FLYING BLIND, Everyman (1977), Royal Court, London (1978), Harold Clurman, New York (1979), published by Faber & Faber (1978), translated into six languages, produced in 10 countries, nominated for Evening Standard Award Best Play and Best Comedy. TIME ON OUR HANDS, Belfast community tour (1979), starred Stephen Rea. DR JEKYLL OF RODNEY STREET, Everyman, Liverpool (1979).
Bill was the Co-Artistic Director of Liverpool Playhouse between 1981-3, and Artistic Director between 1983-85. Then Board member until 1991. Commissioned and directed numerous plays including the musical CAVERN DREAMS (co-written with Carol Ann Duffy). Wrote and directed the musical, BE-BOP-A-LULA for the Playhouse and national tour, 1998, revived 1989. RUN RUN RUNAWAY for Merseyside Young People’s Theatre, 1986. Board member and Chair of drama Panel of Merseyside Arts. Arts Council of GB advisor. THE SPRING OF MEMORY, a dramatic feature for BBC Radio 3 (1981), winner of Pye Awards Best Programme of the Year. BLUES IN A FLAT, BBC Radio 4, 1989. On TV, POTATOHEAD BLUES (1982) and SHERGAR (1986), for BBC.
In the 1990s, Bill wrote the screenplays for BBC Films A SAFE HOUSE (1990), and FORCE OF DUTY (1992). For BBC Radio adapted Chandler’sTHE LADY IN THE LAKE, THE BIG SLEEP, THE HIGH WINDOW, THE LONG GOODBYE, THE LITTLE SISTER and FAREWELL MY LOVELY ad. Chandler (1990s). AFFAIR (1991) for the BBC World Service and Clifford Odets’ WAITING FOR LEFTY (1994). MURDER AT THE CAMEO (1996).
For theatre, THE LITTLE SISTER (1990), play based on Chandler novel, produced at Plymouth Theatre Royal and Liverpool Playhouse. His trilogy of plays A LOVE SONG FOR ULSTER produced at Tricycle Theatre, London (1993), published by Nick Hern Books. DRIVE ON produced at Lyric Theatre, Belfast (1996). DANCE ON, devised for Warrington Youth Theatre toured Northern Ireland (1994).