Nov 15, 2015 – Nigerian Actor Patrick Doyle Talks Childhood, Late Wife & How He Met New Wife Ireti Doyle
Nollywood Actor Patrick Doyle: Why I Married My Late Wife With Sickle Cell Trait
Veteran Nollywood actor Patrick Doyle told Ademola Olonilua about how he lost his first wife and teenage son to sickle cell anaemia and how he met his new wife, Iretiola Doyle.
How would you describe your childhood?
Growing up, I was not the brightest boy in school neither was I the dullest. I was the middle-of-the-road bad guy and I was exposed to all the vices that young men are prone to be exposed to. I smoked, drank alcohol, and did dope for a while. I had my fair share of girlfriends. When I was at St. Finbarr’s College (Lagos), I had a reputation because I was blessed with the gift of the gab. I was very popular in Lagos then because Lagos was quite small. I was well known because I was a part of the Literary and Debate Society in my school. I was the chief speaker for my school for three years which was usual. I was able to set the record because I became the chief speaker in Form Four, then I repeated the class before I went on to Form Five. So for three years, I was the chief speaker. It made me popular.
We learnt your father died few months before you were born. How was life without a father?
What you don’t have you cannot miss. I just noticed that some of my friends had fathers. I don’t recall ever being jealous of my friends who had fathers. All I remember was I was tired of people always asking me about my father. Because of that, I invented a story to tell people after I heard one of my friends tell someone that his father was on a business tour. Whenever I was asked about my father, all I said was my father was on tour. I was about 10 years old then.
My mother on the other was a very wonderful woman. She did not make me feel the loss of my father and she was probably the strongest woman that I know. I owe a lot to her. My mother did not have the benefit of attending a secondary school. However, I have never heard anyone speak English as good and fluent as my mother. I say this anytime. I have never seen anybody read as voraciously as my late mother. I owe her everything because she was my mother and father and she was a very strong woman.
She never remarried?
No, she did not. I think she attempted to remarry on a number of occasions but it never worked out.
How did you become a broadcaster?
I was already a public speaker as a teenager in secondary school so becoming a broadcaster was a natural progression for me. It was not something that I did consciously. It was my mother that made the decision for me. I was at my worst as a bad boy immediately after secondary school and when other people were thinking of writing and re-writing their University Matriculation Exam, I was busy being a truant. My mother decided to talk to a family friend who worked with Radio Nigeria. They had already worked things out between themselves and my mother just told me to meet my uncle.
I felt she had reported me to the man over something I must have done wrong and I was prepared for the scolding and apologies afterwards. As soon as I got to his office, he just took me to his colleague’s office and left me there. I thought I was in serious trouble. At the time, I only knew the man by reputation. He was very stern–looking and his name was Martin Okos and he was a legendary broadcaster. He asked me to read something out aloud and when he heard me, he said I was good enough and instructed me on when to resume at the training school. I went back to my uncle and he told me that I was employed and I should endeavour to report at the training school. That was it. I looked forward to it because my friends were already working at the radio station. For instance JAJ was working in Radio Nigeria and he was already popular at the time; same with another friend of mine, Osazie Iyamo. I was eager to resume work because I would be among my friends. That was how I became a broadcaster.
If your mother had not taken that step, what do you think you would have become today?
I think I would have retraced my steps and gone back to school. I don’t think I would have studied Mass Communication; I think I would have studied Law. I am sure that at some point, I would have got tired of rascality and I would have gone to school.
At what point did you delve into acting?
I am not a professional actor and I would be insulting actors if I call myself one. It is like a doctor who can drive, that does not mean he is a chauffeur. I am a broadcaster who had the privilege of being allowed to act with professional actors. In NTA back then, as a continuity announcer, you have to get to work early to prepare for your shift. I had a cousin, Rolland Henshaw, who was a drama director. He was working as a producer/director of drama and I used to hang out in his office whenever I resume my shift. Actors normally rehearsed in his office and one day, I told him to let me rehearse with them. He agreed, gave me a script and a role. I did it very well. I did not consider acting then till the movie industry sprouted up and they were gracious enough to give me roles.
It later evolved to the point where I began to produce and direct movies under the tutelage of Danladi Bako, who is now a traditional Chief in Sokoto. At that time, he was my best friend and also a senior producer in NTA. He produced Second Chance and Spark. Because I was his friend and I was always with him while he was working, I subconsciously began to imbibe the skills of a producer and director for drama. On one occasion, someone needed him to do an advert for a soap opera but he was not around so I volunteered to do it for them. I did the job and the person was very impressed. That was when I realised that I could do the job. The first ever privately syndicated television drama series in Nigeria was created, written, directed and produced by me and it was called, Jaded Option.
How did you feel when you lost your first wife and teenage son to sickle cell anaemia?
It was a very difficult time for me. I have not yet come to terms with my loss. I sill miss them both. My Christian faith allows me to give thanks to God in all things. To be honest, it is difficult to give thanks because I always ask God why such happened to me twice. But the truth is there is nothing I can do about it. I feel God has consoled me because I have a wonderful wife and lovely daughters. I have the respect of my peers, I am grateful to God and I can’t complain.
There is nothing I can do to change what has happened. I tried to start up a foundation to help people with sickle cell anaemia but I could not bring myself to do it. Anytime I try to, I just remember my young 17-year-old son. I have not got over their deaths especially that of my son. It is very difficult; I need to sponge that feeling before I am able to establish the foundation. I fully intend to advocate about sickle cell. It has been seven years he died but it is very fresh in my memory.
What triggered your son’s attack?
The young boy had had only two attacks in his lifetime. The first one was when his mother died. His mother died in 1999 and he was just seven years old. He did not have another attack for about 10 years. I don’t know what could have triggered his attack. His mother for instance had several attacks for the 10 years we married and she always pulled through. I was almost certain he would also pull through but he did not.
But during marriage counselling, couples are normally advised on issues like this…
I am a Christian and I cannot say I would not marry somebody that I am in love with because of health issues. Besides, during that time, we did not have anything like marriage counsellor and even if we did, it would not have deterred me from marrying someone because of health issues. I don’t think that affairs of the heart are governed by medical reports. If you are getting married to somebody, you do not marry because of the person’s health or for procreation reasons. You marry the person because she/he is your soul mate and it transcends beyond any medical report. I feel it is silly to base matter of the heart on medical grounds especially now that there are technologies that can eliminate possibilities of any of the offspring to have sickle cell. The argument did not hold water to me then because it did not make sense to me and I could not phantom why I had to base the judgement of who I want to marry on a medical report.
How did you meet your wife?
The first time I saw my wife was at an audition for Jaded Option. I called for a reading and I believe it was Nduka Irabor that knew her. He knew some of my partners and told one of them about the young lady that wanted to be a part of the audition. We asked him to call for her and when she came, she looked very competent. She did well and got a part in the flick.
On one occasion, I decided to test her and asked her to help me write the dialogue for a scene in the drama series. She did it well and I realised she was very intelligent. At some point, she was my protégé. She came as an actor and I found she could write well so I normally made her write the dialogue of various scenarios and she did it very well. At a point, she took on the role of a production manager, carrying cameras and lighting equipment. Before long, she was like one of the boys. When I and my crew members were cracking jokes that were at the expense of women, she would laugh with us and none of us saw her as a woman. We just saw her as one of us. She was like a tomboy because she was always wearing shirt and jeans. It was not a big deal until shortly before my wife died. She took a different role and was very supportive during that period. She saw what I was going through and she was very supportive of me. Then some of my friends like Tony Okoroji would tease me that she is a very fine girl and I should be careful around her. Then he would say if he was not married, he would chase her. It was people like Tony that made me realise that she was very beautiful. After my late wife passed on, I was totally disgruntled but she was there for me. She supported me all through that period and that is why I said that in everything, God has really consoled me because I have a very beautiful and supportive wife. I discovered a very beautiful wife in the midst of the crisis. I am consoled and a very happy man.
[Interview By Ademola Olonilua Saturday Lounge]