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, and had a one-woman show in 1936. She also wrote two novels, and a book, This is Norway, about the culture and history of that country.
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. She joined the BBC in 1950 as Assistant Head of BBC Schools Broadcasting, in which role she created the lunchtime programme Listen with Mother. Soon afterwards she moved to television, and created Andy Pandy (with Maria Bird) and she was appointed Head 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. She gave Johnny Morris his first TV appearances as The Hot Chestnut Man (1953–1961). 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",
She lived in Chartwell Cottage, Mapleton Lane, Chartwell, near Westerham in Kent, with her close friend Maria Bird, co-creator of her TV characters; both had lost fiancés in the First World War. After the BBC she continued to write books for children and on art criticism. She died at her home in Chartwell in 1989, aged 95; her estate still controls the rights to Andy Pandy and The Flowerpot Men.
- Sims, Monica (2004), "Lingstrom, Freda Violet (1893–1989)" ((subscription or UK public library membership required)), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press), retrieved 28 May 2012
- McGown, Alistair, Lingstrom, Freda (1893–1989), British Film Institute Screenonline, retrieved 1 June 2012
|Head of BBC Children's Television