Freda Lingstrom

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Freda Violet Lingstrom OBE (23 July 1893 – 15 April 1989) was a BBC Television producer and executive, responsible for pioneering children's programmes in the early 1950s. She was born in Chelsea, London, the daughter of George Lingstrom, a copperplate engraver, and Alice Clarey Anniss. Her paternal grandparents were Swedish. She attended the Central School of Arts and Crafts and became an artist. She got her first job at Alf Cooke's London works, where she worked fifteens months as designer. Following stints at Carlton Studios and Norfolk, Lingstrom decided to work on her own. Beginning in 1922 her first clients were various railway companies like London & North Eatern Railway and the Norwegian state railway. The Norwegian and Swedih government commissioned her to design Scandinavian travel poropaganda for the English market.[1] She also wrote two novels, and a book, This is Norway, about the culture and history of that country.[2]

Her skills as an artist, illustrator and author led to her joining the editorial staff of a children's magazine, Junior, where she worked from 1945 until 1949. In 1940 she was hired by the BBC. In 1947 she became assistant head of BBC Schools Broadcasting, in which role she created the lunchtime programme Listen with Mother.[3] Soon afterwards she moved to television, and created Andy Pandy (with Maria Bird) and she was appointed director of BBC Children's Television in 1951, and the following year introduced Watch with Mother for pre-school children and eventually created a different programme for each weekday with The Flower Pot Men, Picture Book, The Woodentops, and Rag, Tag and Bobtail.

She was responsible for commissioning a wide range of programmes including much high-quality drama as well as entertainment programmes such as Crackerjack and those featuring Harry Corbett's Sooty.[3] She gave Johnny Morris his first TV appearances as The Hot Chestnut Man (1953–1961).[citation needed] Her policy was in the tradition of Lord Reith, thus her programmes were aimed at education as much as entertainment, and she strongly resisted cartoons and imported programmes. Although the programmes were widely approved of by adults, the launch of ITV in 1955 soon made it clear that many children wanted something different, and the ratings for the BBC's children's programmes plummeted over the following year, when Lingstrom was replaced as Head of BBC Children's Television by Owen Reed. In retrospect Lingstrom's programmes have been seen as "cosy and slightly over-protective in tone",[3]

She lived in Chartwell Cottage, Mapleton Lane, Chartwell, near Westerham in Kent, with her close friend Maria Bird, co-creator of her TV characters;[2] both had lost fiancés in the First World War.[citation needed] After the BBC she continued to write books for children and on art criticism.[3] She died at her home in Chartwell in 1989, aged 95;[2] her estate still controls the rights to Andy Pandy and The Flowerpot Men.[3]

Further Reading[edit]

  • Gerda Breuer and Julia Meer, ed. (2012). Women in Graphic Design. Berlin: Jovis. p. 502, 503. ISBN 9783868591538. 
  • Commercial Art No. 7. 1929. p. 263-65. 
  • Sydney R. Jones, ed. (1925). Art and Publicity. Fine Printing and Design. London. 


  1. ^ Gerda Breuer and Julia Meer, ed. (2012). Women in Graphic Design. Berlin: Jovis. p. 502. ISBN 9783868591538. 
  2. ^ a b c Sims, Monica (2004), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography ((SUBSCRIPTION OR UK PUBLIC LIBRARY MEMBERSHIP REQUIRED)) (Oxford University Press), retrieved 28 May 2012  Missing or empty |title= (help); |chapter= ignored (help)
  3. ^ a b c d e McGown, Alistair, Lingstrom, Freda (1893–1989), British Film Institute Screenonline, retrieved 1 June 2012 
Preceded by
Cecil Madden
Head of BBC Children's Television
Succeeded by
Owen Reed