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Obituary: Peter Plouviez

Peter Plouviez, the former general secretary of Equity

When he stood down as general secretary of Equity in 1991, the American entertainment bible Variety described Peter Plouviez as “probably Britain’s best known and most quoted showbiz union official”.

Plouviez’s standing had been earned by a four-fold increase in membership of the actors’ union during his 18-year stewardship, together with a diplomatic political deftness that prevented a membership split in the 1980s and helped forge new alliances at home and abroad.

Born in Leytonstone, he worked in insurance and for the National Union of Bank Employees before joining Equity in 1960 as assistant secretary, taking on the union’s top post in 1974. He played leading roles in amalgamating the former Variety Artiste’s Federation within Equity and proved a staunch bulwark in often divisive moves during the 1980s to resist reform and shift the union’s political stance towards a more pronounced left-wing bias.

He was also instrumental in securing the ‘one-for-one’ talent waiver agreement with the Actors’ Equity Association in America that enabled star names to cross the Atlantic to appear in the West End and on Broadway. His expansion of Equity’s international presence led to him serving as vice-chair of the Confederation of Entertainment Unions and vice-president of the International Federation of Actors from 1989-92.

A former Labour councillor, he unsuccessfully stood for parliament in 1963 and was later treasurer of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 1992.

Peter Plouviez was born on July 30, 1931, and died on October 5, aged 86. He is survived by his second wife and two daughters from his first marriage.

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