Yvonne Littlewood obituary


Yvonne Littlewood, who has died aged 95, was BBC tv’s first feminine producer and director in its mild leisure division. Together with Patricia Foy for music, Margaret Dale for dance and Grace Wyndham Goldie for speak programmes, she was a trailblazer for ladies behind the scenes in tv.

Her early successes included the Eurovision tune contest in 1960, when the fifth annual extravaganza of nations battling for the musical title came about in London for the primary time, on the Royal Pageant Corridor. Littlewood labored on it because the programme coordinator, not helped when the scoreboard recorded Austria’s 5 votes to France as seven.

The next yr, she directed the British heats after which, in 1963, the ultimate, hosted by BBC Tv Centre. It was a logistical problem, unfold over three studios, with the viewers, the host, Katie Boyle, and the scoreboard in a single, the performers and orchestra in one other and the British jury in a 3rd. The fast changeover of units between the 16 acts led to rumours that elements of the dwell programme had been recorded, however this was emphatically denied.

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The Eurovision tune contest in 1960, with the host, Katie Boyle, left, checking the operating order with a Danish colleague. It was the primary time that the competitors came about in London, and Yvonne Littlewood labored on it as a programme coordinator. {Photograph}: Keystone/Getty Photographs

One other controversy got here when Norway’s jury was not prepared with its votes as Boyle requested for them, and gave intermediate scores – which proved very completely different from the ultimate ones it learn out later, securing victory for its Scandinavian neighbour Denmark.

Littlewood started the programme with pictures from the sky above, exhibiting off the newly constructed Tv Centre. “It’s a must to do one thing to ascertain the nation, wherever it’s being held,” she defined. “We landed this helicopter on the roof. It was thrilling to try this.”

Over the following 27 years, Littlewood immersed herself as a producer in mild leisure sequence and specials starring widespread singers. She had lengthy runs with Petula Clark (1966-74), Nana Mouskouri (1968-76), whom she had met on the 1963 Eurovision tune contest, and Val Doonican (1976-88).

In 1968, the BBC launched her for six weeks when she was requested to co-produce an American TV particular for Clark on the NBC community. The programme, Petula, featured Harry Belafonte because the visitor star. After Clark held his arm whereas singing a duet, the director insisted on reshooting it, with the celebrities standing aside, due to objections from the present’s sponsor on racial grounds. Clark subsequently objected, Littlewood wiped the second model and the unique was used.

Though she disliked the character of programme-making by committee within the US, Littlewood made additional reveals there with Clark.

She retired from the BBC in 1986 however continued as a visitor producer till 1990, when she made A Royal Birthday Gala as Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mom, celebrated her ninetieth.

Born in Maidstone, Kent, Yvonne was the daughter of Joan (nee Ball) and Eric Littlewood, a financial institution supervisor. The household moved briefly to King’s Lynn, Norfolk, then Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, the place Yvonne excelled at ballet and performed the piano whereas her dad and mom sang with the native novice operatic and dramatic society.

In 1944, she joined the BBC as a secretary in its finance division on the Alexandra Palace studios in London. Two years later, she moved to tv and, in 1947, grew to become manufacturing secretary to the primary producer-director of TV mild leisure programmes, Michael Mills. Collectively, they labored on reveals similar to Saturday Evening on the Palace (1947-48). Littlewood, who had a specific love of music, was then promoted to manufacturing assistant.

She mentioned: “In these days, the BBC was very a lot a person’s world.” However, she managed to display her talent, significantly when in 1956 Invoice Cotton – the BBC’s future head of sunshine leisure – started as a producer-director and located himself in a tangle. She was in a position to present him learn how to minimize from one digicam to a different in sync with the music.

Her personal profession as a producer started with Comfortable Lights and Candy Music, The Perry Como Music Corridor (each 1960-61) and a 1961 Russ Conway sequence. The next yr, her star-studded programmes featured Kenny Ball, Nelson Riddle, Shirley Bassey, Cleo Laine and Johnny Dankworth, and Johnny Mathis. Later specials included stars similar to Olivia Newton-John (1977), Tony Bennett (1979), Tommy Steele (1981), John Denver (1982) and James Galway (1986). Littlewood additionally labored as producer or director on 4 Royal Selection Performances between 1970 and 1986.

Within the Nineteen Seventies, she was nonetheless the one lady amongst 20 male producers in mild leisure, however the scenario on the BBC slowly improved on account of a report in 1985 by Monica Sims, the company’s first feminine director of radio programmes.

Littlewood was appointed MBE in 1986.


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