Vintage card. Nicola Pagett in the TV series The Timeless Land (Michael Carson, Rob Stewart, 1980).
On 3 March 2021, Egyptian-born English actress Nicola Pagett (1945) died of complications from a brain tumor. She mostly worked on stage and television for example as Elizabeth Bellamy in the series Upstairs, Downstairs (1971-1973). She also played notable film roles in Oliver’s Story (John Korty, 1978), and Privates on Parade (Michael Blakemore, 1983).
Nicola Mary Pagett Scott was born in Cairo, Egypt, in 1945. Her father was an oil executive based in Cairo. She spent most of her childhood in Japan and Hong Kong because of her father’s job. She was educated at Saint Maur International School, in Yokohama, Japan. Afterwards, her parents planned for her to attend a finishing school in Switzerland, but she chose to go to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London in 1962. In 1964, shortly after completing her RADA studies, Pagett appeared in several productions with Worthing Repertory Company. Then her performance in the television play The Girl in the Picture caught the attention of Sir Robert Helpmann who cast her to tour with Vivien Leigh in the stage play ‘La Contessa’. She made her film debut in The Viking Queen (Don Chaffey, 1967) starring Don Murray. In the following years she played in Anne of the Thousand Days (Charles Jarrott, 1969) starring Richard Burton and Geneviève Bujold, There’s a Girl in My Soup (Roy Boulting, 1970) with Peter Sellers and Goldie Hawn, and Operation: Daybreak (Lewis Gilbert, 1975), about the attack on Heydrich. On television, she appeared in episodes of such popular British TV series as Danger Man (1965), The Avengers (1968), and The Persuaders (1971). After her breakthrough in Upstairs, Downstairs (1971-1973), she starred in the title role of the TV series Anna Karenina (Basil Coleman, 1977). In the cinema, she co-starred with Ryan O’Neal and Candice Bergen in Oliver’s Story (John Korty, 1978), the sequel to Love Story (Arthur Hiller, 1970).
During the following decades, Nicola Pagett appeared in the comedy Privates on Parade (Michael Blakemore, 1983) with John Cleese, the TV movie Scoop (Gavin Millar, 1987) after Evelyn Waugh; and An Awfully Big Adventure (Mike Newell, 1995), with Hugh Grant. She mainly worked in the theatre, where she appeared in several plays by Harold Pinter. In 1995, while appearing in ‘What The Butler Saw’ at the National Theatre, she began behaving erratically and was ultimately diagnosed as having acute manic depression. She reached her lowest point when she was escorted from her home by four men to be confined in a closed psychiatric unit but was able to control her illness with medication and self-awareness. In 1998 she published the autobiography ‘Diamonds Behind My Eyes’, highlighting her bipolar disorder and obsession with Tony Blair’s spokesperson Alastair Campbell. Her final screen credit was in the TV series Up Rising (Matt Lipsey, 2000). She was married to Graham Swannell from 1975 till their divorce in 1998. They had one daughter, Eve (1980). Nicola Pagett passed away on 3 March 2021 in London at the age of 75.
Sources: Hans Beerenkamp (Het Schimmenrijk – Dutch), Wikipedia and IMDb.
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