Patricia Llewellyn, former managing director of UK-based Optomen Productions and executive producer of several of the top food programs on television —including Kitchen Nightmares, The Naked Chef and Two Fat Ladies —has passed away at the age of 55.
Llewellyn, who helped propel the television careers of numerous current celebrity chefs such as Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay, Jennifer Paterson and Clarissa Dickson Wright, had been battling a long illness and died over the weekend.
Born in West Wales, Llewellyn had stints with Channel 4 and Wall to Wall prior to joining Optomen in 1994. Bringing Paterson and Dickson Wright, stars of Two Fat Ladies, to British television in the mid-90s, she introduced viewers to Jamie Oliver via The Naked Chef in 1999. She was upped to managing director of Optomen in 2005.
In 2008, Llewellyn co-founded One Potato Two Potato with Ramsay, after bringing him to television prominence following the debut of Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares on Channel 4 in 2004. The prodco opened a Los Angeles office in 2010, which she ran with partner Ben Adler, and served as exec producer on all of its unscripted U.S. programming.
Llewellyn left her post as managing director at Optomen in April of 2016, after 22 years with the prodco, six of them being under the umbrella of All3Media, which acquired the company as well as One Potato Two Potato in 2010.
“I’ve been lucky enough to work with many extraordinarily talented people over the years, and they’ve helped make Optomen the world-class success it has become,” Llewellyn said at the time of her departure from Optomen.
In a recent media roundtable at MIPCOM, Ramsay credited Llewellyn with “starting my journey on Kitchen Nightmares… on that first episode, I’ll never forget it — there was Pat Llewellyn, inside that kitchen, washing up. As the creative director, someone as talented as that washing plates to help me turn this restaurant around… the next day she was painting the restaurant.”
In an Instagram post, Jamie Oliver called Llewellyn “one of the most gifted matriarchs of the TV industry,” adding, “her ability to spot talent and her timing together with oodles of creativity and sheer drive made her a real force.”
In a statement shared with realscreen, All3Media CEO Jane Turton said: “Pat Llewellyn was an extraordinary woman who lit up every room and made the biggest and most positive impression on so many of us and in so many ways. As the boss of Optomen, she developed and produced some of the world’s best known and loved programs and introduced us to amazing talent who until then were completely unknown, or only became household names after working with Pat.
“She was a pioneer, creatively brilliant and a fantastic business leader,” Turton added. “She was also great fun, witty, warm, kind and clever and there was never ever a dull moment in her company. All our love and thoughts are with Ben and their family and friends.”
Friend and former colleague at Wall to Wall, Jane Root, posted on Facebook: “I’ll never forget the moment she came in to show me footage of Jamie Oliver – ‘This is the guy,’ she said. And she was right – as she was about The Two Fat Ladies, Gordon Ramsay, Mary Portas and so many others. Television across the world would be different without her.”
Optomen Productions also posted a remembrance on its website, which read: “She was an incredible human being and creatively brilliant, discovering and developing amazing talent who went on to become some of the most loved names on television.
“It’s thanks to Pat that Optomen is the special place that it’s always been,” it continued. “Her legacy lives on within these walls, and we will continue to honor and cherish the values that she embodied. She was a pioneer, incredibly funny and kind, and knew how to live, as well as making outstanding television. All our love and thoughts are with Ben and their family and friends.”