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William Nicholson - Patron

Bill Nicholson - credit Finn Beales
William Nicholson was born in 1948, and grew up in Sussex and Gloucestershire.

He was educated at Downside School and Christ’s College, Cambridge, and then joined BBC Television, where he worked as a documentary film maker. There his ambition to write, directed first into novels, was channeled into television drama. His plays for television include Shadowlands and Life Story, both of which won the BAFTA Best Television Drama award in their year; other award-winners were Sweet As You Are and The March . In 1988 he received the Royal Television Society’s Writer’s Award. His first play, an adaptation of Shadowlands for the stage, was Evening Standard Best Play of 1990, and went on to a Tony Award winning run on Broadway. He was nominated for an Oscar for the screenplay of the film version, which was directed by Richard Attenborough and starred Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger.

Since then his film credits include: Sarafina, Nell, First Knight, Grey Owl , Gladiator (as co-writer, for which he received a second Oscar nomination),  Elizabeth: the Golden Age, Les Miserables, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Unbroken, and Everest. He has written and directed his own film, Firelight; and four further stage plays, Map of the Heart, Katherine Howard, The Retreat from Moscow  (which ran for five months on Broadway and received three Tony Award nominations), and Crash. In 2017 he wrote the revised book and five new songs for the revival of the South African township musical King Kong, at the Fugard Theatre in Cape Town.

His second film as writer and director, HOPE GAP, was completed in 2018 for release in 2019.

His fantasy novel for older children, The Wind Singer, won the Smarties Prize Gold Award on publication in 2000, and the Blue Peter Book of the Year Award in 2001. Its sequel, Slaves of the Mastery , was published in 2001, and the final volume in the trilogy, Firesong , in 2002. The trilogy has been sold in every major foreign market, from the US to China.

His second sequence of fantasy novels is called The Noble Warriors. The first book is Seeker (2005), the second book, Jango (2006) and the third book Noman (2007).

His love-and-sex novel for teens, Rich and Mad, was published in 2010.

His novels for adults are The Society of Others (2004), The Trial of True Love (2005), The Secret Intensity of Everyday Life (2009), All the Hopeful Lovers (2010)  The Golden Hour (2011), Motherland (2013), Reckless (2014) , The Lovers of Amherst (2015) and Adventures in Modern Marriage (2017).

He lives in Sussex with his wife, the social historian Virginia Nicholson, and their three children.

Film & Video

Thirteen Lives (2022) 

Hope Gap (2019) - also as Director

Breathe (2017)

Everest (2015)

Unbroken (2014)

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2013)

Les Misérables (2012)

Strife (2009) (Short) - also as Director

Gladiator (2007) 

Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007)

The Last Castle (2001) - Script Revisions

Grey Owl (1999)

Firelight (1997) - also as Director

First Knight (1995)

Nell (1994)

Shadowlands (1993)

Sarafina! (1992)

The March (1990)

Guest Appearances and as Self

Vespre a la 2 (2013)

Screenwriters: The BAFTA and BFI Lecture Series (2012-)

Strength and Honor: Creating the World of Gladiator (2005) Video

Arena (2003) - The Many Lives of Richard Attenborough

The Hollywood Machine (2002) Shut It Down

The Evening Standard Drama Awards (1990)

Did You See...? (1986)

Everyman (1981) - The Road to Heaven is a Hard One - as Narrator

Stageplays and Teleplays

New World

Life Story (1987)

Sweet As You Are (1990?)

The March (1990)

The Vision (1990)

Shadowlands (1990)

Map of the Heart

Katherine Howard

The Retreat from Moscow (2003)

Crash

Musicals

King Kong (book revision and five new songs)

Television

Crime of the Century (1996) - TV Movie

A Private Matter (1992) - TV Movie

Screen Two (1997-1998) - TV Series

- 2 episodes as Writer

Horizon (1997) - TV Series

- 1 episode as Writer

Everyman (1977-1986) - TV Series

- 38 episodes as Series Editor

- 22 episodes as Producer

- 5 episodes as Director

- 1 episode as Writer

- 1 episode as Narrator

Lovelaw (1986) - TV Series

- 7 episodes as Producer

Martin Luther, Heretic (1983) - TV Movie

Heart of the Matter (1979) - TV Series

- 7 episodes as Series Editor

Anno Domini (1975-1976) - TV Series

- 3 episodes as Producer

See You Sunday (1973-1974)

- 18 episodes as Director

Hollywood Opening Night (1951) TV Series

- 1 episode as Actor

Stars Over Hollywood (1951) TV Series

- 1 episode as Actor

Novels

For Older Children

Wind On Fire Trilogy 

The Wind Singer (2000)

Slaves of the Mastery (2001)

Firesong (2002)

The Noble Warriors Trilogy

Seeker (2005)

Jango (2006)

Noman (2007). 

For Teens

Rich and Mad (2010)

For Adults

The Society of Others (2004)

The Trial of True Love (2005)

The Secret Intensity of Everyday Life (2009)

All the Hopeful Lovers (2010)

The Golden Hour (2011)

Motherland (2013)

Reckless (2014)

The Lovers of Amherst (2015)

Adventures in Modern Marriage (2017). 

Awards

1985 - BAFTA Award for Best Television Play

1987 - BAFTA Nominated for Sweet As You Are, co-written with Ruth Caleb and Angela Pope. 

1987 - BAFTA Nominated in Best Television Drama for Life Story

1987 - New York Film Festival Award in Best TV Film for Life Story

1987 - Locarno Film Festival Award in Best TV Movie for Life Story

1988 - Royal Television Society's Writer's Award.

1988 - ACE Award in Best Picture for Life Story

1990 - Evening Standard Best Play for Shadowlands

1991 - Tony Award Nomination for Shadowlands

1994 - BAFTA Nominated in Best Television Drama for Shadowlands.

1994 - Oscar Nomination in Best Adapted Screenplay for Shadowlands.

BAFTA Award for Best Television Drama for Life Story.

1997 - Emmy Nomination in Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries for Crime of the Century. 

1997 - Special Prize of the Jury and Golden Seashell Award Nomination at the San Sebastian International Film Festival for Firelight

2000 - Academy Award Nomination in Best Original Screenplay for Gladiator (Gladiator won five Academy Awards that year and was nominated in twelve categories). Gladiator won a total of 48 prizes out of 119 nominations. 

2000 - BAFTA Nomination in Best Original Screenplay for Gladiator.

2000 - Nestlê Smarties Prize Gold Award 2000 for The Wind Singer

2001 - Blue Peter Book of the Year Award 2001 for The Wind Singer

2004 - Tony Award Nomination for The Retreat from Moscow

2012 - Christopher Award winner for Les Misérables

2013 - BAFTA Award Nominated in Outstanding British Film for Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom 

2014 - Broadcast Film Critics Association Award Nominated in Best Adapted Screenplay for Unbroken

2014 - San Diego Film Critics Society Awards Nominated in Best Adapted Screenplay for Unbroken

2014 - St. Louis Film Critics Association Nominated in Best Adapted Screenplay for Unbroken

2020 - Best Film Award at Barcelona Film Festival 

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