Nik Powell

Nik Powell (4 November 1950 – 7 November 2019[1]) was a British businessman and one of the co-founders of Virgin Records with Richard Branson. After operating a mail-order company, a small record shop, and a recording studio, the partners established the label in 1972. It became one of the UK's major recording labels until its sale to EMI in 1992.


Born in Great Kingshill, Buckinghamshire, England, Powell was educated first at Longacre School, Shamley Green, Guildford, Surrey, moving when he was seven to a small Catholic preparatory school, St. Richard's[2] in Little Malvern, outside Malvern. From there he went to Ampleforth College, North Yorkshire, and subsequently spent a year at the University of Sussex.

In 1983, Powell and Stephen Woolley founded Palace Productions, which produced The Company of Wolves (1984), Mona Lisa (1986), and The Crying Game (1992).[3] After presiding over the 1992 collapse of the company, Powell re-established himself in the film industry with Scala Productions and produced Fever Pitch (1997), Twenty Four Seven (also 1997), B. Monkey (1998), Last Orders (2001), and Ladies in Lavender (2004).[4]

Powell was director of the National Film and Television School[5] from 2003 to 2017 in England while maintaining his position as chairman of Scala Productions.

Personal life

Powell's marriage to Merrill Tomassi, the sister of Richard Branson's first wife, ended in divorce. He then married singer Sandie Shaw and helped relaunch her career. They had two children, Amie and Jack, before divorcing in the early 1990s.

Powell died on 7 November 2019 in Oxford, three days after his 69th birthday; he had been receiving treatment for cancer.[6]


  1. "It is with great sadness @NFTSFilmTV announces the death of our former Director and friend Nik Powell who passed away this morning. He loved the School deeply and was incredibly proud of every one of our graduates. Nik leaves a lasting legacy and will be deeply missed by us". @NFTSFilmTV. Twitter. 7 November 2019. Retrieved 7 November 2019.
  2. "St Richard's – Home". 1 December 2010. Retrieved 30 March 2013.
  3. "NIK POWELL Director, NFTS". NFTS. Retrieved 16 January 2011.
  4. Alberge, Dalya (3 October 2010). "UK film-makers 'frittering away millions'". The Observer. Retrieved 16 January 2011.
  5. Gant, Charles (6 December 2010). "My alternative British Independent Film awards 2010". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 January 2011.
  6. "NFTS Announces The Sad Passing of Former Director Nik Powell". NFTS Latest news. National Film & Television School. 7 November 2019. Retrieved 7 November 2019.

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