Stead was born in 1943 in Barry, Wales, and attended grammar schools at Barry and Gowerton. A graduate of Swansea University, he was subsequently a visiting Fulbright scholar at Wellesley College, and at the University of North Carolina. He is Chairman of the Dylan Thomas Literary Prize, and along with the late Patrick Hannan, Stead has been a member of the Welsh team in the radio series Round Britain Quiz for several years.
- Coleg Harlech (1976)
- Ivor Allchurch (Christopher Davies, 1998)
- Film and the Working Class (1989)
- Richard Burton: So Much, So Little (1991)
- Dennis Potter (1995)
- Acting Wales: Stars of Stage and Screen (2002)