Nigel Martin-Smith

Nigel Martin-Smith is a Manchester-based musical band manager who formed 1990s British boy band Take That.

In 1995, Gay Times listed Martin-Smith as one of the most influential gay people in music.

He was also heavily parodied in the comedy Star Stories.


Martin-Smith entered the entertainment industry in the early 1980s working as a casting agent from offices in Manchester's Royal Exchange. From here he challenged the "London-centric" attitude of many in the business, championing the cause of local talent and establishing many actors in film and television. His first success in the music industry was "The Time Warp" by Damian, a UK top ten hit in 1989.

Take That

Martin-Smith noticed that the British pop charts looked flat. Since Bros, the leading act was US import New Kids on the Block. Being Manchester, Martin-Smith decided to build a northern version of NKOTB, with a similar "chosen" formula of singers and performers.

In 1990, Martin-Smith assembled: Gary Barlow, a 19 year-old from Cheshire who had been singing and playing the organ on the northern club circuit for five years; his friend Mark Owen, 18, a former child model and Manchester United trialist; Howard Donald, 21, a vehicle painter who also DJ'd, danced and modelled; his friend Jason Orange, 19, a painter and decorator who had danced on Pete Waterman's TV programme The Hitman and Her. He advertised for another singer, and choose the 16 year old body popper from Stoke-on-Trent, Robbie Williams.

Take That sold 19 million records (9m albums and 10 m singles) between 1990 and 1996. Between the band's first single release in 1991 and their break-up in 1996, the BBC described Take That as "the most successful British band since The Beatles in the UK, beloved of young and old alike". Take That's dance-oriented pop tunes and soulful ballads dominated the UK charts in the first half of the 1990s, spawning two of the best selling albums of the decade with Everything Changes 1993 and Greatest Hits 1996, and according to Allmusic, "at this time were giant superstars in Europe with the main question about them not being about whether they could get a hit single, but how many and which would make it to number one".

By 1995, Williams who had been growing frustrated with his life in Take That, infamously went partying with Oasis at Glastonbury and then left the band. After leaving the band in 1995, the last Take That album Nobody Else was re-issued in some markets excluding some vocals by Williams, most notably a new recording of "Love Ain't Here Anymore". Williams didn't actually take any lead vocals on this album, band members later blamed this on his "lack of interest and commitment" in the recording of the album. The band finally split in 1996.

Robbie Williams

Robbie Williams left Take That under a tight performance and confidentiality agreement, but decided to sue Martin-Smith for breach of his fiduciary duties, which he lost

The feud between the pair resurfaced when Williams biography written by his friend, Daily Mail journalist Chris Heath, "Feel: Robbie Williams" was published in 2004. Williams described how Martin-Smith allegedly destroyed his confidence, and didn't hide his hatred for Martin-Smith who he calls "spawn of Satan," claiming that the manager told people he was gay:

"When I first went into Take That I thought I could do everything, but I left thinking I could do nothing…I just remember being shit-scared of Nigel and I really wanted him to like me. He was the person, I believe in my life that fucked with my head, and I just didn't have the facilities to deal with it. I can say something nice about every single member of Take That. But when it comes to Nigel Martin-Smith....I want to rip his uterus out.
Martin-Smith in response blamed Robbie's inability to deal with his sexuality as the major cause of the singer's insecurity and his drug and alcohol issues:
"It's very sad that Robbie has turned out like he has. He doesn't seem at all happy. He has been suppressed and the ramifications of that are now beginning to show. He looks a mess, he looks like a lost unhappy individual. It's very telling that none of his relationships with women has lasted. He is now dating another actress in LA. It won't last. It's all for show. Deep down he is gay. Robbie and I were completely comfortable with each other. He was the more dominant one and knew what he wanted. That's not the behaviour of a man who is experimenting for fun. It was for real.
On release of Williams album Rudebox, Williams detailed in the title song how he fantasised about gouging out Martin-Smith's eyes out during his time with Take That:
"Either you're a thief or you're shit, which one will you admit to? Such an evil man, I used to fantasise about taking a Stanley knife and playing around with your eyes.
However, after warning Williams over another song on the album entitled The 90s, Martin-Smith sued Williams and his record company Chrysalis Records for £300,000 in the High Court for defamation of character. The case did not delay the 23 October release of the album, but has partly delayed release of the single.

After Take That

Martin-Smith entered into a consultancy deal with Virgin Records and managed the come back of Scottish singer Lulu. About this time Martin-Smith made a huge investment in his Manchester based talent agencies moving into purpose-built studios and offices and employing leading agents to oversee his roster of artistes. The NMSM Talent Group now incorporates:

  • URBAN TALENT, an agency specialising in real people with a natural talent to work in television
  • LIME ACTORS a management company for professional, trained actors. One of its clients was former Coronation Street actor Adam Rickitt, signed in 1997
  • NEMESIS MODELS an agency representing established commercial fashion and photographic models
  • SMITH'S another model agency but one that specialises in high fashion models for work with our associate agencies worldwide.

In 2005 Martin-Smith was contracted to work on the re-launch of Take That which saw him co produce a TV documentary about the group and manage the release of their Greatest Hits album and launch their sell-out UK tour. However, Martin-Smith was removed from the position once the film was over and just before the tour, as according to Mark Owen he "wasn't needed." An alternative theory was that Robbie Williams would never appear as long as Martin-Smith had anything to do with the band. Martin Smith said: “I can’t believe what a success the comeback has been. I thought they would do the tour and that would be it. But now they could tour every year and pack stadiums.”

Other Projects

Martin-Smith in early 2007 signed up the self made Celebrities and Stars of Youtube, lipsync teen duo SYNCSTA, according to Syncsta's article in Teen Now part of Now magazine

Manchester Gay village

Martin-Smith owns three venues in Manchester's gay village, set along Canal Street:

  • Queer - a cafe bar by day and a bar club by night.
  • Essential - The north's only gay superclub (Best club outside of London 2008 gaytimes award).
  • Glam - Underground pop bar club.


  • Heath, Chris - Feel: Robbie Williams Ebury Press, Pub: 30 Sep, 2004, ISBN 0-0918-9753-X

External links

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