Born: August 14, 1956;

Died: May 1, 2021.

STEPHY Pordage, who has died aged 64, was a training practitioner as well as a television and radio producer who also ran a record label with her husband, the Scottish songwriter-performer Rab Noakes. Together, the couple produced many programmes, often celebrating their shared loved of music; Stephy was also Rab’s manager and muse; I Always Will on his powerful EP The Treatment Tapes, about his recovery from cancer, was a song about their long and loving relationship.

The couple had worked together since the 1990s, setting up their production company, Neon, after a long spell in which Rab had produced music and entertainment shows for network radio; he was also head of the entertainment department at Radio Scotland.

Stephy at the time worked for Workbase, a company that worked with trade unions on training in the workplace. Stephy eventually set up, and managed, Workbase Scotland as a stand-alone sister company. She and Robert ran Neon together, with Stephy overseeing the television work and her husband looking after the radio and music.

From the 1990s onwards, Neon produced programmes for BBC One1, BBC Scotland, BBC Four4, STV, Radio 2, Radio Scotland and Radio 4, often about music. For TV, there was a celebration of the folk-singer and broadcaster Jimmie Macgregor, films about the Scottish singer-songwriters Gerry Rafferty and Michael Marra as well as programmes about John Byrne and Johnnie Beattie.

There were many radio programmes too, including weekly shows, The Brand New Opry and Original Masters, alongside individual shows with Paolo Nutini, Elaine C Smith and Janey Godley. The company also delivered broadcast skills training to schools.

Stephy entered the world of training via the Youth Training Scheme in Salisbury after several other jobs and careers, including librarian, hairdresser and teacher. She was born in Chelsea, and always described herself as a Chelsea Girl from World’s End. Her mother, Louisa, had six children – the elder ones by her first husband Harry Pordage, and the younger ones by a furrier called Arnold Gilbert. She grew up in and around Page Street, in Pimlico.

After her education at a comprehensive girls’ school in Vauxhall, Stephy became interested in politics; she became a supporter of the Young Socialists and the Workers Revolutionary Party, a political consciousness that would remain with her for the rest of her life. She was particularly infuriated by lies or artifice. “If there’s one word to sum Stephy up, to me that would be ‘truth’,” said Rab. “‘Check your motives’, I hear her say.”

Rab and Stephy met in 1988 when Rab, who was working in Manchester, was summoned for a BBC meeting in London that was later cancelled. With time on his hands, he attended a BBC equal opportunities event where Stephy was manning a stall. They met on the stairs on the way out, went for a drink, and began a relationship that lasted 33 years. They were married in 1998.

As a couple, they had an immediate ease and connection, helped by their shared love of music. The novelist Val McDermid, a friend of Rab’s who later became a friend of Stephy’s too, said the couple were a perfect fit for each other. With both having an interest in clothes and a striking sense of retro style, Val also said there was a sense they knew exactly how good they looked together. “Stephy and Rab fitted each other like a pair of matching puzzle pieces,” said Val. “They were always so immaculately turned out; a perfect visual fit.”

As a couple developed their media business together, Stephy also helped Rab to develop his music further. Rab had released his first album in 1970 but he and his own wife formed their own label to record and release his work. It included studio albums, live albums, plus collaborations with Barbara Dickson and Fraser Spiers.

The Treatment Tapes EP, released in 2016, was one of Noakes’ most personal records ever. A couple of years earlier, he had discovered a lump in his neck and by 2015 he had been diagnosed with tonsillar cancer. Rab said Stephy was there for him the whole time. “She put a lot of aspects of her own life on hold,” he said at the time. “We tackled it together. You have a very close relationship then something like that happens and you find lots of other layers to this closeness.”

Sadly, Stephy then faced a health crisis of her own when, just a few months after Rab’s diagnosis, she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. A few years later, it developed into a form known as Multiple System Atrophy. “It’s a cruel, ghastly thing,” said Rab, “that took the life from her and took her from us.”

The broadcaster John Cavanagh, who was a colleague and friend, said Stephy had an incisive mind and a direct approach. “One forgets how much of a lads’ culture a lot of the media was in the 1990s”, he says. “Fortunately, we had none of that taint at Neon and the ethos we worked in would be seen, in hindsight, as progressive in the context of those times.

“To Stephy, Rab and those who worked with them, it was just what we did, naturally. Stephy’s musical tastes brought an angle to our programming too, being very wide ranging, though when I think of Stephy and music, my first thought is ska!”

Stephy and Rab lived together for many years in a top-floor flat in the Pollokshields area of Glasgow, where Stephy was able to indulge her taste for striking interior design and demonstrate her DIY skills (she could lay carpets and tile walls, and she was an able car mechanic, too).

The couple enjoyed travelling including their bi-annual trips to London for art, food, and shopping. They also travelled widely in the southern states of the US South and spent several weeks on road trips across the country; Stephy also enjoyed going out with Rab when he was on tour. Rab said he deeply loved Stephy but liked her too and admired her interesting way of looking at things. “She managed me to an extent,” he said. “I am a better person for having known her.”