National legend of British broadcasting, Yvonne Littlewood, who died at the age of 95 is fondly remembered by her peers in the industry.
Yvonne was born in Maidstone, Kent, but her some of her younger years were spent in Ross-on-Wye, where her family relocated after a brief stay in King’s Lynn, Norfolk.
It was around this time where she discovered her passion for the arts, excelling at ballet and piano. Her parents’ active roles in the local amateur operatic and dramatic society further nurtured her artistic inclinations.
The pivotal moment in her career occurred in 1944, when she joined the BBC as a secretary.
By 1947, she was a production secretary working closely with Michael Mills, the first producer-director of TV light entertainment. Littlewood demonstrated her remarkable talent in a male-dominated industry, earning a promotion to production assistant and marking the start of her illustrious career.
Her early successes included coordinating the Eurovision song contest in 1960, when the event took place in London for the first time.
Her role continued to grow as she directed the British heats in 1961 and the final in 1963. These events, which encompassed a variety of logistical challenges, underscored her competence and resilience.
Over a career spanning 27 years, Littlewood established herself as a prominent figure in light entertainment, producing shows for popular singers such as Petula Clark, Nana Mouskouri, and Val Doonican.
In 1968, the BBC allowed her to co-produce an American TV special on the NBC network featuring Harry Belafonte as a guest star. Despite cultural differences in programme-making, she continued to produce shows in the US.
Retirement did not slow her down. Even after her official departure from the BBC in 1986, she remained active as a guest producer until 1990, creating shows like ‘A Royal Birthday Gala’ to celebrate the Queen Mother’s 90th birthday. In recognition of her services, she was appointed MBE in 1986.
Despite the challenges she faced in the then male-dominated BBC, her influence helped improve the representation of women in the corporation. As the only woman among 20 male producers in the 1970s, her persistent efforts contributed to the gradual increase in female representation within the BBC.
Yvonne Littlewood’s legacy remains a beacon of inspiration for women striving to break the glass ceiling within the television industry. Her pioneering work continues to influence the field and her memory lives on.