Mr Garry Lyons

Mr Garry Lyons


Award-winning playwright, screenwriter and producer, who has written for the National Theatre of Great Britain and extensively for television and radio.

Programme Director for the MA in Writing for Performance & Publication, which he designed and has led since 2006.

Garry grew up near London. He gained a First in English at York University, trained as a journalist with The Guardian Group newspapers in Surrey, and went onto a masters degree in Drama at Leeds University. In the 1980s, he was Resident Dramatist with Major Road Theatre Company, and Director of the Theatre in the Mill, Bradford before turning to freelance writing and producing. He worked for the National Theatre's Education Department, and between 1992 and 2002 he was Visiting Lecturer in Screenwriting at the Northern Film School, Leeds.

He was a producer of drama and documentaries at Chameleon Television 1995-98, and continued to develop projects for the company for several years afterwards. In 2003 he was appointed to  the first Lecturer in Scriptwriting at Leeds University, where he designed and leads the masters programme in Writing for Performance & Publication. He was a co-founder of the International Screenwriting Research Network and on the Editorial Advisory Board of the Punk & Post-Punk journal.

In 2013 he was awarded a Harry Ransom Center Humanities Fellowship to research screenwriting at the University of Texas at Austin. Garry's professional credits include: the drama trilogy DECISIONS, which he wrote and produced for Channel 4, winning a Royal Television Society Award, AMAZONIA with Rory Kinnear and Michele Dockery for BBC Radio 3, and the Prix Europa-nominated drama-documentary BRITAIN'S FIRST SUICIDE BOMBERS for BBC 2.

His stage plays include WICKED YAAR! (National Theatre), FRANKIE AND TOMMY (Lyric, Hammersmith and Liverpool Everyman), and MOHICANS (Donmar Warehouse).  In 2009 he wrote a major musical adaptation of THE SECRET GARDEN, which played to packed houses at West Yorkshire Playhouse and Birmingham Repertory Theatre.

His work for children includes five seasons of THE WORST WITCH, the Bafta-nominated ITV comedy franchise, which has been screened in more than 60 countries worldwide, including on HBO in the USA, and DOPPLEGANGERS, an animated cartoon series commissioned by Entertainment Motion Pictures, Los Angeles. 

His latest stage play, THE LAST SEAM, will premiere at Cast in Doncaster in autumn, 2018, and tour Yorkshire and the North-East.  



  • Programme Director, MA Writing for Performance and Publication 2006-present
  • School Director of Impact and Innovation 2013-17
  • Postgraduate Taught Tutor (Head of MA Studies), 2005-10

Research interests

  • Practice-based research in dramatic writing (theatre, screen and radio)
  • The writer as producer
  • The production of new work in mainstream theatre
  • Institutional pressures on creative processes in theatre and broadcasting
  • The legacy of punk

Recent conference contributions include:

'International Forum on Creative Writing Development' (keynote talk, Shanghai University June 2018)

'What Screenwriting Can Learn from the Way Playwriting is Taught' (paper for Fact and Fiction, Truth and the Real conference, University of Otago September 2017)

'Screenwriting for Social, Environmental and Healthcare Change in India' (paper for Screenwriting, Text and Performance conference, University of London September 2015)

'Bringing Creative Communities and Experts Closer' (co-convenor and moderator, Elevate 2015, media writers' conclave, Mumbai March 2015)

'Ghosts and Dopplegangers - adapting the unstable text' (paper for Symposium on Adaptation, University of Leeds February 2015)

'We're All Storytellers Now - Or Are We?' - (Settle Storytelling Festival Oct 2014)

'Becoming a Writer' - (the Thiru Swamikkannu Annual Endowment Lecture, Loyola College, Chennai Jan 2014)

'Making Writing Relevant to Society and the Cultural Context' (invited speaker, Asian Center for Entertainment Education, Mumbai Jan 2014)

'Batman - from comic book to movie' (paper for Screenwriting in a Global and Digital World conference, University of Madison-Wisconsin August 2013)

'Ghosts in the Labour Ward of Television' (paper for Words and Images conference, Macquarie University, Sydney September 2012)

'All Together Now - the rise of the family show and its importance to subsidised theatre in Britain (paper for PSi 2012 conference, University of Leeds, June 2012)

'From Book to Musical: Transforming The Secret Garden' (invited speaker, The Secret Garden Festival of Mass Narratives', University of Salford in association with the Lowry centre and the BBC, June 2012)

'Dramatising Ransome' (keynote presentation, Arthur Ransome Society Biennial Conference, University of Bristol, September 2011)

'The Impact of Public Cutbacks on New Writing' (invited speaker, Voice of the Listener and Viewer event, West Yorkshire Playhouse, July 2011)

'Children's Television - the Nursery Slopes?' (keynote presentation, Something for the Kids conference, University of Leeds in association with BBC Writers' Room, May 2011)

Children's Television a Case for Concern (paper for the Screenwriting Research conference, University of Copenhagen, September 2010)

The Role of the Screenwriter in Dramatised Documentary for Television (paper for the Rethinking Screenwriting conference, University of Art & Design, Helsinki, September, 2009)

Rethinking the Screenplay (conference, University of Leeds September, 2008 co-curated and co-chaired)

The relationship between the screenplay and film music with Ian MacDonald and Erik Knudsen (presentation - 3rd Annual Film Music Conference in association with the Bradford International Film Festival, March, 2007)

Britain's First Suicide Bombers (presentation - TaPRA, Central School of Speech & Drama, September, 2006

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • MA Drama and Theatre Arts, University of Leeds
  • BA English and Related Literature, University of York

Professional memberships

  • Writers Guild of Great Britain

Student education

University of Leeds students personally supervised  include:

RAOLTA ABIOLA (MPhil in Screenwriting 2014), whose feature-length script CRIME PAYS won the Williamsburg International Film Festival Screenplay Competition, the Best Action Screenplay Award at the Columbia Gorge Festival, and Jury Award at the Village of Brewster Film Festival, New York.  Her horror script HELLIG HOUSE won an Award of Merit at the Los Angeles Cinema Festival of Hollywood, and she went on to write and direct a debut short film, FEARFULLY AND WONDERFULLY MADE.

JENNIFER BANKS (MA Writing for Performance & Publication 2014), who is a writer, actor and comedian.  She wrote, performed in and produced her two-woman show STRIFE IN A NORTHERN TOWN at the 2017 Women in Comedy festival, and was nominated for Best Actor in the 2017 Greater Manchester Fringe Festival.  She has recently appeared as a running character in ITV's CORONATION STREET. 

JONATHAN BRIDLE (MA Writing for Performance & Publication 2007), who has written radio and television material for the Bafta-winning comedy double act Mitchell and Webb. His other credits include SCALLYWAGGA (BBC 3) and SCHOOL OF COMEDY (Channel 4). He is currently Senior Lecturer in Scriptwriting at Sheffield Hallam University.

LEWIS CARTER (MA Writing for Performance and Publication 2015), who is in-house writer and producer for film company Fine Rolling Media in South Wales.  His debut short film, CAMPFIRE STORY won an award at the Swansea Film Festival in 2017.  He also publishes short stories.

ZARA CHOWDHARY (MA Writing for Performance & Publication 2009), formerly in-house screenwriter for Vinod Chopra Films, one of the leading Bollywood production houses, who went on to run her own independent film company in Mumbai, The Wedding Filmer.  She is currently studying Creative Writing and the Environment at the University of Iowa. 

ANNA CLARKSON (MA Writing for Performance & Publication, 2010), who was runner-up in the Amnesty International Ice and Fire Playwriting Competition, and had her play BANGKOK TO BURNLEY performed at the Soho Theatre and West Yorkshire Playhouse, before being workshopped at the National Theatre Studio. She was subsequently attached to Bolton Octagon Theatre, which staged her COCKTAILS WITH THE LADY WIDOW and WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ.

RANVIJAYSINH JHALA (MA Writing for Performance & Publication 2013), who worked for media company Jack in the Box, then for three years as television programming manager for Zee Entertainment in Mumbai.  He is currently editor of The Watch Guide in New Delhi.

AISHA KHAN (MA Writing for Performance & Publication 2008), who won the BBC BANG (British Asian New Generation) Award for playwriting and had her commissioned radio play ROAD TRIP broadcast on Radio 4. She won an Arts Council professional development award to work in the literary department of West Yorkshire Playhouse, which premiered her play NO MAN'S LAND, an Anglo-German co-production with Theatr an der Parkaue, Berlin, in 2011. Aisha was literary manager for the new writing company, Northern Bullets, and is now co-artistic director of the intercultural theatre company, Freedom Studios.

CLIVE LAWRENCE (MA Writing for Performance & Publication 2016), who was joint winner of the John Dryden Prize for literary translation for CASSANDRA, his version of Pierre de Ronsard's sonnet sequence Les Amours de Cassandre, which is published in Carcanet.

MAUREEN LENNON (MA Writing for Performance & Publication 2017), who is co-founder and director of Bellow Theatre, which produced her play BARE SKIN ON BRINY WATERS (New Diorama, London and Hull City of Culture 2017).  Her current work includes a writing commission for Middle Child and assistant directing for Hull Truck.  She is attached to Leeds Playhouse's Fuse Playwrights scheme.

JESSICA MACDONALD (MA Writing for Performance & Publication 2015), who was a trainee drama researcher on ITV's CORONATION STREET before working as a script secretary for Big Talk Productions on COLD FEET.  She has recently been working as a trainee script editor and storyliner on the Australian series NEIGHBOURS for Freemantle Media in Melbourne.

ZODWA NYONI (MA Writing for Performance & Publication 2013), who was appointed Apprentice Poet in Residence for the Ilkley Literature Festival before going onto win a Channel 4 Playwrights' Bursary for her play BOI BOI IS DEAD. The award enabled her to spend a year attached to West Yorkshire Playhouse. BOI BOI IS DEAD received its premiere at the Playhouse in January 2015 and was shortlisted for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, the foremost international award for women playwrights. She went on to write NINE LIVES for Oran Mor, Glasgow and the Arcola, London, and LOVE AGAIN for BBC Radio 3.  Her ODE TO LEEDS and CARNIVAL CHRONICLES were both produced by West Yorkshire Playhouse in 2017.  Her first volume of plays has been published by Methuen Drama.

CHRIS O'CONNOR (MA Writing for Performance & Publication 2011), whose work as a playwright includes THE LIFE AND SOUL for Red Ladder and MARCHING ON EMBERS for Buglight Theatre, which tours in 2019.  His other credits include work for the Lyric, Hammersmith and BBC Radio 4.  He works for Red Ladder as social media officer.

KACHI OZUMBA (MA Creative Writing 2006), who won the 2009 Commonwealth Short Story Prize (Africa section), and went on to see his debut novel,THE SHADOW OF A SMILE, make it onto The Observer Bookof the Year list.  He won the decibel Penguin Award, and has had a number of stories broadcast on BBC Radio.  After completing a Creative Writing PhD, he was appointed Lecturer in English at Bangor University.

PRAVEENA SHIVRAM (MA Writing for Performance & Publication 2009), who was highly commended in the 2009 Commonwealth Short Story competition for her piece, NEER. She continues to write and publish short stories, while working as editor of Arts Illustrated magazine in Chennai, India.

LEE SUTTON (MA Writing for Performance & Publication 2009), who was selected to participate in the 24 Hour Plays events at London's Old Vic Theatre in 2011. The resulting script was adapted into a short film produced for Time Warner, and Lee's play WHEN DOMINOES FALL received a professional reading at Hull Truck Theatre. In 2012 Lee was commissioned by the Old Vic to write a pop-up pantomime for community performances in London, and he went on to write for Bolton Octagon.  His award-winning short film THE NEST EGG was produced in 2015.  He was recently commissioned to write for BBC 1's CASUALTY, after gaining a place on the EASTENDERS shadow scheme.   

BEN TAGOE (BA Creative Writing 2005), who was runner-up in BBC Radio's Alfred Bradley Bursary Award Competition and went on to develop as a playwright with Red Ladder.  In 2011, he won a highly sought after place on the prestigious BBC Writers' Academy, where he was tutored by former Controller of BBC Drama Production, John Yorke. He has written scripts for CASUALTY, HOLBY CITY, EASTENDERS, DOCTORS, and was a regular writer for ITV's CORONATION STREET for three years.  He recently had a stage play premiered by Freedom Studios, and scripted an episode of STAN LEE'S LUCK MAN for Sky.


Research groups and institutes

  • Theatre at Leeds
  • Creative Writing at Leeds

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>