DCSIMG

Frances Campbell

Radio and TV presenter and producer

Born: 13 August, 1917, in Edinburgh. Died: 7 February, 2008, in Tarn, France, aged 90. FRANCES Campbell was the distinguished creator and presenter of many children's programmes for BBC Radio Scotland from the 1950s and a renowned director of nature programmes from Edinburgh Zoo. Campbell was involved with many other programmes from the studios in Edinburgh and Glasgow, bringing to all her work characteristic energy and commitment. She combined her career with a role as wife of the prominent Scottish actor Leonard Maguire and mother of their three children.

Frances Margaret Campbell was brought up in Aberdeenshire and while at school trained as a dancer in her spare time. She read English at Aberdeen University before joining the WRNS on the outbreak of war and seeing service as a coder in various stations from Orkney to Glasgow.

In 1941 Campbell was commissioned as a cipher officer and was sent to Gibraltar, where her workload was considerable, as not only did the station monitor all the naval and aircraft movements in the Mediterranean but it was involved in maintaining supplies to north Africa and preparing for the Allied invasion of Italy.

On her demob, Campbell joined the BBC World Service in London. There she was involved in many arts programmes and particularly enjoyed those devoted to music.

She returned to Scotland in the mid-1950s to work with BBC Radio Scotland, where an early success was the dramatisation of Allan Campbell Maclean's The Hill of the Red Fox. The book – set on the Isle of Skye during the Cold War – takes its name from a protruding plateau in one of the most desolate parts of the island.

Other adaptations included RN Stewart's Running Silver (telling of the adventures of three young salmon) and George Macdonald's The Princess and the Goblin.

Campbell was also involved in many memorable radio programmes about Edinburgh Zoo. These included Exploring the Hut Country with G J Fisher, known as the "Hut Man". Well remembered also is Nature Scrapbook with Tom Gillespie (the "Zoo Man") while Henry Douglas-Home was the "Bird Man".

Throughout the 1960s Campbell was involved in directing many programmes for Children's Hour, broadcast on the Home Service (now Radio 4) at 5pm every weekday. She employed many of Scotland's aspiring new actors (including Tom Fleming, Moultrie R Kelsall, Roddy Macmillan) to tell stories and act in adaptations of the classics. She also met and then married Maguire at this time.

Campbell was asked by STV in 1965 to direct For The Youngest Scot, which, although it had a very demanding schedule, suited her ability to work under pressure.

The programme's format was wide and offered Campbell a licence to use her fertile and effervescent imagination. For two years the programme went out five times a week. It lasted just five minutes but the subject matter ranged from science to the arts or whatever struck Campbell's fancy that week.

Her son, Tim Maguire, said: "Mum seemed to me to blossom in her old age – she never stopped being interested in the world and everyone in it, and continued to make and keep new friends."

Leonard Maguire died in 1997 and Campbell is survived by their son and two daughters.

 
 
 

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