Veteran British TV animation producer Theresa Plummer-Andrews, who is best known for exec producing shows such as Bob the Builder, Postman Pan and The Animals of Farthing Wood for Children’s BBC, has passed away at age 77 after a brief illness.
The widely respected executive began her career as a theatrical agent whose clients included Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. In 1981, she joined TVS (ITV’s franchise holder for Southern England) where she gravitated towards children’s programming. In 1986, she launched her career at the BBC, helping to form BBC Children’s International to secure additional funding for children’s programming. She was soon promoted to head of acquisitions and creative development, in which post she helped executive produce Bob the Builder.
During almost 20 years of her tenure with BBC, from 1986 to 2004, Plummer-Andrews made an indelible mark on the international children’s content business as head of acquisitions. Tributes to Plummer-Andrews, described as “the grand dame of children’s television,” have been made on social media as the industry reacted to the loss of a hugely influential figure.
Australia ABC current entertainment director Michael Carrington, who succeeded Plummer-Andrews at the BBC, said, “Trees was an inspiring and endlessly energetic executive and content maker, who played a substantial role in championing and bolstering children’s content in the UK and indeed, around the world — for as long as any of us can remember. On a personal note, I am struggling to accept that she is no longer with us. I will miss her laughter, her creativity and her passion for dancing on tables!”
Among the numerous other shows she helped launch at the Beeb were Moomin (1990) Fireman Sam (1994), Noah’s Island (1997), Brambly Hedge (1997) and Noddy (1998-2000). She also exec produced popular children’s series such as Postman Pat (2003-2006), Little Robots (2003-2005), Pingu (2004-2006), Zombie Hotel (2006-2007), Zou (2013-2014) and The Jungle Book (2010-2019). For the past two decades, she continued to work as a consultant and champion of quality children’s animation all around the world.
Plummer-Andrews’ extensive expertise remained in high demand even after she left BBC in 2004. She went on to set up her own consultancy firm, Plum Trees TV, working on series such as Elias: The Little Rescue Boat and Cyber Group Studios’ preschool series Zou. Her entertainment career began when she started out as a theatrical agent working with the likes of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor before moving into television in the 1970s on the live-action series Elephant Boy.
Cyber Group Studios CEO and founder Pierre Sissmann, who worked with Plummer-Andrews on several shows said, “Theresa was a very, very dear friend of my family. So my wife Joelle and I are very saddened by this news. I have personally worked alongside Theresa for about 15 years and she was always a source of inspiration. She made no compromise in trying to reach the best to deliver to kids and families. We did our preschool series Zou together and worked side by side for three seasons, and together, we made it our first big worldwide hit. But more than this, Theresa helped build our industry for several decades and left her imprint on many, many creators, producers and broadcasters. She will be remembered by many as an example and a great figure. I will mourn a friend.”
Our condolences to all of Plummer-Andrews’ family, friends and colleagues around the world.