I work for ... Tim Angel

Shelley Thompson is PA to the chairman of Bafta and of Angels and Burmans film and television costumier
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The Independent Culture
I trained as a medical secretary, but the limitations of the health service became too frustrating. Getting this job became a personal vendetta for me because even after five interviews Tim remained impossible to get hold of. Tim's secretaries had tended to last between two hours and two weeks before I joined and years later I discovered that the men's department had laid bets on how long I would stay. But I stuck at it through sheer bloody-mindedness and the desire to get Tim out of the administrational mess surrounding him. Twelve years on I'm still here. The company was started by Tim's family 160 years ago and it commands huge staff loyalty; when the building caught fire nine years ago the staff stood on the pavement crying.

Nearly a year ago Tim was appointed chairman of Bafta for a two-year period, and suddenly we were thrust into another world. We were determined to play our part in taking Bafta into the 21st century and rid it of its image as a stuffy organisation full of luvvies, which couldn't be further from the truth, The Bafta awards (which will take place next Monday) are as important as the Oscars, and we've worked together trying to think of ways of grabbing people's attention in order to raise their profile. There was a lot of research to do, and hundreds of individuals and organisations to write to in order to enlist their support.

When Sean Connery, a hero of mine, was awarded the 1998 Bafta Fellowship for Film, I was asked to organise his travel, which led to lots of long chats with him on the phone. He even asked me in that wonderful voice of his whether he should wear his kilt for the ceremony. It was also gratifying to play a small part in getting other important film industry figures, such as John Landau and Curtis Hanson, to the Bafta film awards. On my first day here Omar Sharif walked in to the office. I was bowled over. Yet funnily enough you often don't recognise stars when they are out of costume.

The first few years were difficult, because I had to fight so hard to get Tim to delegate. There were lots of occasions when I wondered why I was bothering. But largely due to Tim's efforts we are now the largest costume house in the world. We had a stressful period six years ago when we acquired the business of Burmans International and were referred to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission, but the claims proved unfounded.

Initially I was very much in awe of Tim, but we wouldn't have got this far had we not clicked. We are both a bit psychic and can read each other's minds, but I'm careful not to cross the line between a professional and personal relationship. Tim jokingly complains that I nag him during the day and then pass him on to his wife who nags him in the evening.

I also run our work experience programme and the recruitment of the admin staff, and although I'm good at doing six or seven things at once, it can be difficult to combine my roles. I was interviewing the other day when Tim appeared at the window behind the interviewee, knocking and waving to get my attention. The poor girl nearly jumped out of her skin. I work long hours, but there are a lot of perks to this job. I've travelled to Paris, New York and Vancouver, for example, and I also get to raid the wardrobe. When I got married Tim asked the designers to make my wedding dress.

Being a family man himself Tim appreciates that I need to spend time with my husband, but he's obsessed with the idea of my leaving him to have children. He often jokes about an African producer who was caught putting contraceptive pills into his PA's coffee each morning because he didn't want her to leave. I've got to know Tim's own children over the years and recently I accompanied his son to hospital, because Tim hates blood. As one of the company's first-aiders I often have a queue of people outside my office clutching cut fingers, so if I am cross with Tim I will try to wave a wounded hand in his direction.

The nature of this job is that I am part social worker, part nurse, part psychotherapist and part sounding-board for Tim, yet I feel privileged to work for him and I can't believe that there's another job like this. The crowning moment was when Tim received his OBE. I had been told that he'd been put forward for an honour but was sworn to secrecy for two years, which was hard because Tim and I don't have secrets from one another.

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