Obituary: Louise Cochrane, children’s TV writer, 93

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LOUISE Cochrane, a children’s writer from New York who later settled in the Capital, has died, aged 93.

Louise wrote the fondly-remembered children’s early afternoon television series Rag, Tag and Bobtail, which was seen for more than a decade from 1953 on the BBC’s Watch With Mother.

Born Louise Morley in New York, she was the daughter of a writer. After education in New York she won, in 1936, the League of Nations Association prize, a nationwide exam for high school students.

She read politics at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, graduating in 1940, and spent some of the early war years working for Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady to President Franklin D Roosevelt.

She ran the US conference programme for the International Student Service between 1940 and 1944 and at a meeting met the visiting British delegate, Peter Cochrane, in 1942.

The following year, Louise visited London and she and Peter married. Unfortunately, they did not see each other again until 1946 as he served with the Cameron Highlanders in the Italian campaign.

She worked for the BBC in the news and current affairs department, concentrating on programmes for schools.

In 1953, she wrote her first episode of Rag, Tag and Bobtail and from then until 1965 the programme became a fixture of Thursday afternoon television.

It was aimed at “the very young” and told of three country animals – sometimes joined by five baby rabbits.

Peter Cochrane had always preserved his long-standing connections with Scotland. He had attended Loretto School in Musselburgh and had written an account of his time with the Cameron Highlanders.

Louise, for her part, had grown to love Scotland and, in 1979, they decided to retire to the Marchmont area of Edinburgh.

They became very much part of the local community and she was much involved with the American Women’s Club of Central Scotland.

Both were devout members of St Columba’s-by-the-Castle and then St Michael and All Saints, Brougham Street.

Louise retained her zest for life and enthusiasm for writing. She was also a keen mathematician and studied geometry.

Her daughter, Dr Janet Sidaway, said: “She remained inventive and interested all her life in young people and especially in her grandchildren, her great-grandchildren and their friends. She tried out all the Rag, Tag and Bobtail stories on my sister and I and that was huge fun.

“Mum combined her enthusiasm for life and people with an indomitable spirit. Scotland was very important to her – both Argyll and Edinburgh. I think her years in Edinburgh were her happiest.”

Louise Cochrane is survived by her husband and two daughters.