Pamela "Pam" St. Clement (born 12 May 1942 in Harrow on the Hill, Middlesex) is an English actress. She has played Pat Evans (formerly Pat Wicks and more recently Pat Butcher) in the BBC soap opera EastEnders since 1986, and is now one of the programme's longest-serving cast members.
Clement's parents, Ann Tribe and Reginald Clement, married in 1940, but shortly after Clement's birth in 1942, her mother died and she was put into foster care when her father remarried. Clement subsequently grew up in various different foster homes until she was taken in by a family who owned a farm in Devon. She has commented: "I was very fortunate in the end. I was always being farmed off to holiday homes, then when I was just pre-teens I went down to Devon to some people who were very good at taking on youngsters, and what originated as a business arrangement became my home." Clement's father rose to become the managing director of a toy manufacturers in London and married five times in total over the course of his life.
Clement was sent to boarding school on the South Downs, where she was—by her own admission—"very naughty". She was active in the drama society at her school, but she originally had aspirations to become a vet, however this career proved unobtainable because she didn't pass Latin at school. Instead she decided to become a teacher and enrolled at a the Rolle teacher training college in Exmouth, which is part of the University of Plymouth. She worked in the teaching profession until her desire to act prompted her to attend drama school, the Rose Bruford College, and she eventually took up acting professionally. Her stage name was inspired by a street name in Islington—St Clement Street—where her parents resided at the time of their marriage. In July 2008, the University of Plymouth presented her with an honorary doctorate in education for her services to teaching. Commenting on her former job, she said she had not been a good teacher, so her career change was not a loss to the profession.
Clement has worked extensively on the stage, in films and on television. Her acting career began in the 1970s, when she joined a small theatre company and she went on to have minor roles in programmes such as The Onedin Line (1972); Follyfoot (1972) and Doomwatch (1972). Her first big break came in 1976, when she was cast in an episode of TV prison drama, Within These Walls.
Subsequent television credits have included: Van der Valk (1977); Emmerdale (1979) as Mrs. Eckersley; Thomas & Sarah (1979); Enemy at the Door (1978; 1980); Play For Today (1980); Minder (1980); Shoestring (1980); Dangerous Davies (1981); Angels (1981); as Frau Bodelschwingh in Private Schulz (1981); The Chinese Detective (1982);The Tripods (1985) and Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense (1986). She has also appeared in films, which has included roles in: The Bunker (1981); Hitler's SS: Portrait in Evil (1985) and Biggles: Adventures in Time (1986).
In 1986 Clement was cast in her most notable role to date—Pat Wicks, the troublesome former prostitute and ex-wife of Pete Beale (Peter Dean), in BBC's EastEnders. She has played the character continuously since her first appearance on 12 June 1986—over a year after the show began.
Clement's character was originally brought in on a trial basis for a period of three episodes. However the series' executive-producer, Julia Smith, decided to make the character long term. Clement initially had reservations about committing to the role, commenting: "I couldn't envisage how this character, who creates absolute havoc everywhere she goes and is not at home with herself or with anybody else in the Square, could possibly fit in". However she was persuaded to continue by Smith, who said: "'We've only seen one layer of the onion skin—the defensiveness—now we'll start to peel away more and get to the vulnerability that lies behind it'."
Pat has gone on to become one of the soap's longest running characters. She has been featured in a multitude of high profile storylines, which has included four marriages—most notably to Frank Butcher (played by Mike Reid)—numerous affairs, feuds and a spell in prison for drink-driving (which led to a pedestrian dying). Clement has commented that her long run in the show has surprised even her "You are talking to a person who wouldn't sign a West End contract if it was longer than a year…It's madness…I have stuck with it so long because I am always looking to see where they take the character next". In 2006 Clement signed a £200,000 deal keeping her with EastEnders until at least 2008. She is currently the second longest serving cast member at Eastenders behind Adam Woodyatt. June Brown took a 4 year break in the 90's, meaning is she the third longest running character, due to Pam having no breaks. In June 2008 on her 22nd anniversary on EastEnders Pam said she was excited about the next 22 years on the programme.
In 2006, St Clement appeared as Aunt Sponge in The Queen's Handbag at the Children's Party At The Palace—an all-star event to celebrate the Queen's 80th birthday. She has also made personal appearances on various television programmes including Grumpy Old Women (2005; 2006) and the wildlife programme, Country File (2000). She was also the subject of This Is Your Life in 1995.
In Summer 2008, Pam St Clement received an honorary Doctorate of Education from Plymouth University.
Before joing EastEnders all those years ago, Pam qualified as a teacher at Rolle Teacher Training College in east Devon.
Clement has described herself as bisexual and she is a supporter of gay rights—campaigning with Stonewall against Section 28 and for lowering the age of consent for homosexuals. Clement is known to be an intensely private person who seldom speaks about her personal life, and it has been suggested that this is due to the way the press hounded her when it was revealed she was in a relationship with a woman. During the 1960s Clement was married to a man named Andrew Gordon, but they divorced in 1976.
In 1997, Clement discovered that she had a brother (born in 1934) from her father's first marriage. Clement maintained that she had been in touch with her late father, who died in 1993, aged 84. In spite of this, he had never mentioned having any other children. Her brother, also named Reginald, had barely known their father and had not seen him since he was a toddler.
Clement has been the focus of much media criticism regarding her weight over the years, which earned her character the nickname Phat Pat. In 1998 she lost several stones from dieting, which led the media to speculate that she had become ill. She later commented: "I have since decided I wasn't made to be slim. When I was thinner the paparazzi got some pictures where I looked ill. I had to come out and speak about it."
Clement is a big animal lover and a keen conservationist. She supports several charities, which includes the Global Wildlife Fund. She is also the Vice President of her local Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal (RSPCA) and works with them to promote their "Home For Life" campaign. She has commented "It's a very important campaign to encourage people to mention their pets in their will so that if they die before the animal, the RSPCA have the legal authority to re-home the pet. Without it, pets can end up abandoned or in unsuitable homes. People assume their animals will die first, but you can never be certain. It doesn't cost anything to do and I think it is so important."
She is a dog lover and has spent time with People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) supporters at Crufts, attending PDSA fundraising events and supporting the annual London Animal Day. In 2007 she lent her support to Hearing Dogs for Deaf People and the Pets as Therapy campaign. In February 2007, Clement—who is a keen horse-rider—became the patron of Veteran Horse Welfare.
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