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Obituary: Nigel Seale – former managing director of casting directory Spotlight

Nigel Seale. Photo: Catherine Shakespeare Lane

Nigel Seale may not have been a name that many in the industry would instantly recognise, but as the managing director of the casting bible Spotlight he was a figure of long-standing importance and considerable influence.

Associated with Spotlight for more than half a century, he was instrumental in moving the directory away from its traditional doorstop-sized, multi-volume print incarnation through the short-lived era of the CD-Rom and into the online age.

Among many significant innovations were a free actors’ advisory service and separate directories for drama graduates, stunt artists, dancers and presenters.

He also instigated the now annual Spotlight Prize and the launch of Spotlight Link, which transformed the way actors are suggested and matched for roles.

With the purchase of the New York-based, nationally focused Players’ Guide in the late 1990s he expanded the company’s reach to the United States.

The association enabled Spotlight to establish global casting opportunities for performers and lasted until 2000. He sat for a time on the Society of West End (now Olivier) awards committee and received a lifetime achievement recognition from the Subtitle Film Festival in 2016.

His charitable work encompassed many sectors from acting to sport (including The Stage Golfing Society) and included nearly three decades on the council of the Actors’ Children’s Trust.

In 2000, he contributed to a BBC Radio 4 documentary profiling the life and work of Spotlight.

A tribute on the directory’s website said: “We will remember him as the man who instilled a sense of family, loyalty and a generosity of spirit.

“We are a better company for having had his leadership for so long. His sense of fun, his ability to laugh and his genuine kindness set him apart.”

Nigel Hamilton Seale was born on December 2, 1940 – the son of Betty and Kenneth (a tank commander during the El Alamein desert battles in Egypt). He died on April 10, aged 78.

He is survived by his wife Jennifer, son Ben (Spotlight’s current chief executive officer), and daughters Emma and Philippa, both of whom have had long associations with Spotlight.

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