Born: February 17 1941;

Died: July 28, 2022.

ANDREW Leigh, who has died aged 81, was a theatre manager who helped make things happen in some of the UK’s key producing houses.

From his early days at the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, and the Traverse, Edinburgh, Leigh continued his association with Scotland by way of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and latterly with Fringe regulars, Pleasance Theatre, where he was a board member.

Inbetween, he was instrumental in the founding of the Duke’s Playhouse, Lancaster, and the Paines Plough company. He also helped shape the relationship between subsidised and commercial theatre, and had a lengthy tenure at the Old Vic, London.

Throughout his 60-year career, Leigh navigated organisations through what were sometimes turbulent times with a level-headed and good-humoured approach while always remaining a champion of forward-thinking ideas.

Andrew Leigh was born in Ottawa, Canada, to where his mother Marion (nee Blantford) and elder siblings, Julian and Veronica, had been sent to escape the Blitz, and where Marion worked as an editor with the National Film Board of Canada.

His father, Walter Leigh, was a prolific composer, best known for his Concertino for harpsichord and string orchestra (1934) and scores for documentary films. Walter joined the British Army before Andrew was born, and served as a trooper before being killed in action in Libya in 1942.

After the family returned to England in 1946, Leigh attended Bryanston School, Dorset, before studying philosophy at Cambridge. It was here he developed an interest in theatre, and initially had dreams of becoming an actor, before being outshone by peers including Trevor Nunn, Richard Eyre and Miriam Margolyes.

Leigh moved into running the show instead, applying organisational skills on student productions that would hold him in good stead for everything that followed.

After Cambridge, he signed up as company manager for the 1963 summer season at the Palace Theatre, Morecambe. As outlined during a 2011 interview with The Stage, his multiple roles included sorting out physiotherapy for tired showgirls. He told The Stage that he learnt more in six months at Morecambe than anything drama school could have offered.

He moved to Glasgow to become house manager at the Citizens during a period when Iain Cuthbertson, then David William, were in charge of the Gorbals-based theatre.

Leigh became general manager during a maverick period in the theatre’s history that set the tone for the radicalism that would follow. During his tenure, the Citz opened its studio space, The Close, which became home to arthouse experimentalism.

Leigh was there, too, when Peter Nichols’ now-classic play, A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (1967) provoked outrage amongst local bureaucrats due to its depiction of a couple raising a disabled child.

Leigh attended meetings with the production’s director, Michael Blakemore, who was by then the theatre’s co-artistic director, and who threatened to resign if Joe Egg was taken off the schedules. In the end, Blakemore took the show to London and Broadway.

It was while at the Citizens that Leigh met Margaret Lyons, the theatre’s box-office manager, and one of the first women in the UK to occupy such a role. She, too, was from a musical family, and her father, Robert Lyons, played piano and banjo on pleasure cruisers on the Clyde. Still only in their mid twenties, Andrew and Margaret married, and had three children before they eventually divorced.

Leigh left the Citz in 1968 to oversee the Edinburgh Festival transfer of Blakemore’s production of Bertolt Brecht’s play, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, featuring Leonard Rossiter in the title role.

He joined the Traverse Theatre shortly afterwards, working alongside artistic director Max Stafford-Clark to oversee the theatre’s move from its original home in a former High Street brothel to premises in the West Bow, next to the Grassmarket.

In the 1970s, Leigh moved to Lancaster, setting up the Duke’s Playhouse, which eventually gave rise to the founding of Paines Plough. He then joined Leicester Haymarket, where he drew up the first co-production contract with commercial producer Cameron Mackintosh, to co-produce tours of Oliver! My Fair Lady and Oklahoma.

Leigh’s contract became the standard for the Theatre Managers’ Association, and transformed the status of regional theatres and their relationship with London houses.

In 1979, he joined the Old Vic, where he stayed for almost two decades, working alongside the likes of Jonathan Miller and Peter Hall, and overseeing a major refurbishment of the building while its artistic directors were indulged by the theatre’s owners, Ed and David Mirvish.

Leigh became president of the TMA, and for many years looked after its awards. In 2010, he received a special award for his work in regional theatre.

In 1989, he joined the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society as a director, and remained for 18 years. In 1995, he became a board member of Pleasance, the London-based company that became one of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe’s biggest producers. Leigh retained his tenure until his passing.

In a statement, Pleasance’s current director, Anthony Alderson, praised Leigh’s “passion, brilliance and his innate energy and exuberance. He had a wonderful sense of humour. He touched the lives of so many people. He was a champion of young people, new work and new ideas. He was a wonderfully generous person and a great friend. We will miss him enormously.”

He is survived by his three children with Margaret Lyons – Jacob, Rebecca and Ben – and six grandchildren.