Anna Home

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Anna Margaret Home OBE ( /ˈhjuːm/ HYOOM; born 13 January 1938) is an English television producer and executive who worked for most of her career at the BBC.

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Early career

After graduating from Oxford University, where she read Modern History at St Anne's College from 1956, [1] Home joined the BBC in 1960. Initially working as a studio manager in BBC Radio, Home joined BBC Television in 1964 as a researcher for Play School . [2] "At the time it was quite an achievement [for a woman] to get into university, not just the BBC", observed Home in 2013. [3]

With Joy Whitby and Molly Cox, Home developed Jackanory , [4] [5] which began its long run in 1965. "At first people were unwilling to participate in this unknown programme", Home recalled in 1997. "But when actors realised it was the opportunity to have 15 minutes' solo experience on television, they began to queue up to get on it, and having done a Jackanory became a bit like having done your Desert Island Discs ." [6] Comedy actor Kenneth Williams, one of the most frequent participants in the series, recalled Home telling him: "Never sound as if you're patronizing the young." [7]

Committed to children's drama output, Home revived domestically produced children's drama after a period in which the idiom had been dormant on the BBC's television channels. She was involved in the direction of such children's serials as Mandog (1972), adapted by Peter Dickinson from his own novel, because budgets did not allow her to contract more experienced people. [2] The Changes (1975, made in 1973), a serial produced and adapted by Home from another Dickinson novel followed. By 1975, she was exclusively an executive producer of children's drama, and in this role commissioned the long-running Grange Hill (1978-2008) which had been rejected by several ITV companies, including Yorkshire Television whose children's department was now headed by Joy Whitby, which had questioned why children should want to watch a drama about being at school. [8] Grange Hill was initially a controversial series. "As the press launched into us and No 10 was complaining loudly to the DG," Home recalled, "the Department of Health became very interested – after all we were tackling just the issues they were concerned with, but better than they could." [9]

Later career

For the 1982 ITV franchise round, she was a member of the consortium which became Television South (TVS) [10] and replaced Southern Television. After a period at TVS as programme controller (and head of the children's and youth department) between 1981 and 1986, she returned to the BBC as head of the children's television department, responsible for about 900 hours of programming per year. [11] Home cancelled Play School in 1988 considering it "dated"; [12] this decision received some flak at the time. [13] Home retired from her post at the BBC in 1997; [14] the last series she commissioned was Teletubbies .

Home is the Chief Executive of the Children’s Film and Television Foundation, [15] and chair of Save Kids' TV. [16] In these roles she has become a campaigner for the retention of children's programmes on the BBC's main channels. Her book Into the Box of Delights (1993), a history of children's television, was conceived with this theme in mind. [17] In 2009, she commented: "Teletubbies just would not get commissioned now. Children's dramas and shows are just too expensive. Children need to see programmes which reflect their life and they are no longer experiencing this. As a result, children are losing their identities." [18]

Honours

She won the Eleanor Farjeon Award in 1989, [19] was awarded an OBE in 1993 [10] and received the BAFTA Special Award in 1996. [20] The same year she received the Women in Film and Television Lifetime Achievement Award. [21]

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References

  1. Whitby, Joy (2014). "A life spent telling stories" (PDF). The Ship 2013—2014. p. 87. Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  2. 1 2 McGown, Alistair. "Home, Anna (1938-)". British Film Institute . Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  3. Jane Martinson "Blue Peter's Biddy Baxter: 'I never wanted to do anything else'", The Guardian, 24 November 2013
  4. McGown, Alistair (2003–14). "Jackanory (1965-96)". BFI Screenonline. Retrieved 10 November 2020.
  5. "Cox [née Cunningham], Marie-Thérèse Henriette [Molly, Mollie] (1925–1991), television producer". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/65451 . Retrieved 10 November 2020.
  6. "Television age that led to literacy". Tes. Retrieved 10 November 2020.
  7. Kenneth Williams Just Williams, Fontana, 1985, p.232
  8. Phil Redmond Mid term Report, London: Century, 2012, p.95
  9. Jean Seaton "War on the BBC: the triumphs and turbulence of the Thatcher years", The Guardian, 20 February 2015 (extract from Seaton's book Pinkoes and Traitors: The BBC and the Nation, 1974-1987)
  10. 1 2 "Anna Home OBE - Finance & Young Talent Programme" Archived 21 February 2015 at the Wayback Machine , Sandgate Films
  11. "The Children's Book Circle announces the winner of the 1989 Eleanor Farjeon Award as Anna Home, Head of BBC Children's Television", Books for Keeps [c.1989]
  12. "Trade Talk: Well connected", Broadcast, 17 April 2003
  13. T.J. Worthington "Windows ‘64", offthetelly.co.uk, February 2004
  14. Anna Home "The not so magic roundabout", The Independent, 12 October 1997
  15. "Anna Home, OBE – Deputy Chair", Children's Foundation
  16. "Anna Home O.B.E. - Chair – Save Kids’ TV, Chief Executive – Children’s Film and Television Foundation" Archived 10 September 2010 at the Wayback Machine , Save Kids' TV
  17. Nicholas Tucker "Book Review: In the Set With Sooty and His Panda Pal", The Independent, 3 August 1993
  18. Urmee Khan "Teletubbies 'would not get made today because editors afraid of risk'", telegraph.co.uk, 9 May 2009
  19. "The Eleanor Farjeon Award", Children's Book Circle
  20. "The Special Award" Archived 31 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine , BAFTA
  21. "Ms Anna Home OBE - Authorised Biography", Debrett's

Further reading

Preceded by
Edward Barnes
Head of BBC Children's Programmes
1986–97
Succeeded by
Lorraine Heggessey