In the Beginning
Anne came from a working class background. She was born in Spennymoor, County Durham and grew up in a small coal mining village nearby. Encouraged by loving parents to develop her talents she qualified as a secondary school teacher and one of her early missions was to encourage her pupils to read.
In 1965 Anne founded a quarterly magazine – Books for your Children. Such was the success of this that circulation became nationwide and Anne was invited by both book publishers and TV companies to consult on content for children culminating in a job as a children’s TV producer first for Tyne Tees Television and then Yorkshire TV (producing The Book Tower). Finally, in 1981, Anne was invited to create a children’s department for the newly launched TVAM and Roland Rat was created. This anarchical character, with mis-spelt captions and chaotic interviews, satirising the serious content of the breakfast show, proved hugely popular with children and their parents and began to reverse the declining ratings for the station. Concurrently, Anne filled Sunday mornings with an innovative one-hour magazine programme for young children, Rub-a-Dub-Tub.
Following a change of management at TVAM, cost-cutting measures were introduced resulting in children’s programming being entirely imported cartoons with live links from the studio. Under these circumstances, there was no possibility of Anne’s contract being renewed so she left and the idea of starting her own independent production company was born in 1984.
With her background in education and publishing, and as a mother herself, Anne was committed to the development of young children, capturing their imaginations through fantasy and play. So it was natural that the inspiration for the name Ragdoll came from a much loved and well-worn ragdoll called Jemima – the proud possession of daughter Katherine Wood. As part of the Wood family, Jemima had featured in many imaginary and real adventures and, as such, had to have various makeovers from grandmother to avoid disintegration. Jemima was never beautiful, but always had great spirit and still has pride of place in the family today.