Writer of the iconic 'Billy trilogy'
Born at the Donegall Road, south Belfast, Graham Reid left school at the age of 15 and married at 20 while serving in the British Army. He returned to school in his mid 20s, and graduated from the Queen’s University of Belfast in 1976. Reid then taught in Bangor, Co Down, before becoming a full time writer.
The tone of Reid's work was established in his first produced play, The Death of Humpty Dumpty (1980), which explored the intermingling of the personal and the political in Northern Irish society. Reid also draws upon the joint themes of sentimentality and abuse, which he regards as predetermined by an inability to effectively express emotion.
Reid's subsequent plays, The Closed Door in 1980 and The Hidden Curriculum in 1982, proved successful in London and Dublin, and Reid was quickly commissioned by the BBC to create a television play about life in Northern Ireland. Adopting his own community background as context, Too Late to Talk to Billy (1982) was essentially a family drama that examined the break up of a family unit scarred by the Troubles.
Featuring a young Kenneth Branagh in the title role, the play was a huge national success and inspired the commissioning of two more Billy plays. A Matter of Choice for Billy and A Coming to Terms for Billy cemented Reid’s place as one of the leading dramatists in the country. His next television play, Ties of Blood, addressed the impact of the British Army on civilian life.
For the last decade, Graham Reid has continued to produce drama for television and radio, but his Billy trilogy will always have iconic status for those who first saw Northern Ireland on the television in a context other than the news.