Dorothea Brooking (née Smith Wright; 7 December 1916 – 23 March 1999) was an English children's television producer and director. She also adapted some works for the small screen (mainly early in her career) on which she worked in her other capacities.
Life and career
From a family of theatricals, she was born in Eton, Buckinghamshire (now part of Berkshire) and educated at Busage House and a finishing school in Montreux, Switzerland. Before the Second World War she was an actress, under the name Daryl Wilde, and a member of The Old Vic company, during which time she met her husband John Brooking, who had the stage name of John Franklyn (they divorced in 1951). During the war her husband was in Africa while Brooking herself worked in Shanghai, where she was on the staff of a radio station in the city in the two years. Brooking managed to leave with her son before the Japanese invaded.
After returning to London, she worked for the BBC's Overseas Service as a continuity announcer before being appointed as a producer in 1950 for the BBC's Children's Department at Alexandra Palace. Over the next quarter of a century she was responsible for numerous adaptations of children's classics such as The Secret Garden (1952, 1960 and 1975) and The Railway Children (1951 and 1957). She also undertook adaptations of contemporary works including an adaptation of Philippa Pearce's novel Tom's Midnight Garden (1974).
Leaving the BBC in the mid-1960s, after a period in schools' broadcasting, she went freelance. When Monica Sims was appointed to head the revived Children's Department in 1968 (it had formed part of a department for the family from 1963), Brooking resumed working for the BBC. Her last responsibility as a director was the Haunting of Cassie Palmer (1982) for Television South (TVS) which had been commissioned by Anna Home, who was then Head of Children's and Youth Programmes at the station. In her history of children's television, Into The Box of Delights (1993), Home describes Brooking as "one of the most influential makers of drama from the early Fifties onwards".
Brooking won the Pye Award for distinguished services to children's television in 1980.
- Averill, June (6 April 1999). "Obituary: Dorothea Brooking". The Independent.
- Barnes, Edward (3 May 1999). "Obituary: Dorothea Brooking". The Guardian.
- Vahimagi, Tise. "Brooking, Dorothea (1916-1999)". BFI screenonline.
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