The story of Sweetpea Slight is a footnote to a footnote in the annals of British theatre. Even her name suggests it — a gentle, fragrant vanishing off the bottom of the page. In fact, it isn’t even her real name (which is Jane), but one given her by her formidable boss, the theatre producer Thelma Holt. She spotted her as a gangly, impressionable 18-year-old on an internship at the Theatre of Comedy in 1984, deflected her from her plan to become an actor and swept her into the role of factotum, where she remained for 20 years.
The moniker caused one moment of confusion, when it emerged that Dustin Hoffman, in London to play Shylock in Peter Hall’s production of The Merchant of Venice, produced by Holt, answered to the same.