Thursday, 3 January 2013

Pat Lovett

Theatrical agent, choreographer, dancer
Born August 16th 1945; died December 24th 2012

Without Pat Lovett, who has died aged 67 after a long battle with emphysema, theatre, film and television in Scotland would be a much duller place. As the boss of Scotland's longest-standing acting agency, Lovett was a larger than life figure whose social flamboyance sat alongside a straight-talking steeliness when doing business. It was a skill she honed while working as a dancer on Ken Russell's 1971 feature film, The Boy Friend. As Equity rep, she was forced to square up to Russell after he'd perched his ensemble on a perilously high set of aeroplane wings. Lovett won the battle, as well as danger money for the company. It would hold her in good stead as the dynamic agent she became.

Patricia Diane Lovett was born in Woolwich and grew up in Blackheath in South-East London, the youngest of three sisters to Fred and Irene, a seamstress. Fred, who flitted between stints as an engineer, inventor and owner of a driving school, was hoping for a boy, and named his newly-born Pat in the hope that she'd turn out to be a tomboy. As it was, the convent educated Lovett started ballet classes at the Royal Academy of Dance from a young age, and appeared as a child dancer at the Royal Festival Hall.

Lovett went on to train further in dance at an Arts Educational stage school in London, and on graduating moved straight into the West End and the London Palladium. On television, Lovett danced in a plethora of prime-time light-entertainment shows alongside the likes of Cliff Richard and Bruce Forsyth with the Young Generation and Pan's People. She was even sacked from pop show, Ready Steady Go! for being too old. She was twenty-one.

Lovett arrived in London just as it started to swing, and for a time she hung out with The Beatles. She told the story of how, somewhat refreshed at John Lennon's twenty-fourth birthday party, she was escorted to a taxi by Lennon himself. Another time, George Harrison's then girlfriend Patti Boyd asked Lovett if she danced merely as a hobby.

On film, as well as The Boy Friend, Lovett appeared in Half A Sixpence and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, before being asked to choreograph some TV shows filmed in Scotland. She asked one of the cameramen, Stuart Logan, where she could buy French cigarettes, and the pair argued over which was best, Gauloises or Gitanes. Lovett fell in love with both Logan and Scotland, and the couple married in 1974.

Lovett choreographed pantomimes and shows with Billy Connolly, and moved into straight theatre via 7:84, the Young Lyceum company, Borderline and the Traverse. Lovett became publicity manager for the latter theatre following the birth of her daughter Dolina in 1976, using the then Grassmarket bar as a kind of creche, while passing actors became unpaid babysitters as she put up posters.

In 1981, Lovett took over the Esel Agency, which she developed into PLA (Pat Lovett Associates), and then Lovett Logan Associates as it is today. In its thirty-year existence, there isn't a film, theatre or TV company who hasn't come into contact with Lovett, while her numerous clients have included Kevin McKidd and Iain Glen.

In 1990, Dolina joined the agency, eventually taking the lead as the business expanded to London and Lovett became ill. Lovett and Logan divorced in 1981, but they remained friends until the end. A second marriage, to writer Raymond Ross, didn't last. For the past two years since her illness worsened, Lovett was looked after daily by Tam Jamieson, her devoted friend who she met in the early 1990s, and who provided a kind of sanctuary beyond the theatre world.

Lovett took delight in nurturing young actors, and, whether as agent, friend or life-long socialist, cared deeply about their welfare. Her gregarious sense of mischief also made her a presence at any first night party, her throaty laughter punctuating any sense of seriousness with a bohemian largesse that would see her face light up at the prospect of gossip. Lovett's own stories were legion, and she was a fountain of fabulous indiscretion. Only later would you notice her talking earnestly in a corner with her clients, dissecting the good and bad points of their performance and the show it had contributed to with a gimlet-eyed precision that retained a compassionate generosity of spirit at all times. Lovett was a force of nature who became both a theatrical institution and a legend. In an industry founded on make-believe, Lovett was a rare and real thing.

Lovett is survived by Jamieson, her daughter Dolina and partner Kevin, her grand-daughter Natasha, and her sisters, Sandra and Rita. A humanist funeral will take place at Warrieston Crematorium, Edinburgh, on January 7th.

The Herald, January 3rd, 2013

ends




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