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[29 APR 99] RAGDOLL PRODUCTIONS PRESS RELEASE
Ragdoll Founder Receives Business Award

Anne Wood, the Founder and Creative Director of Ragdoll Productions (UK) Ltd., the internationally acclaimed independent producer of children's television programmes has been presented with The Veuve Clicquot Award Business Woman of the Year 1998. The award, made by Veuve Clicquot Champagne, was announced today at a Champagne Reception at Claridges.

Ragdoll Productions was founded by Anne Wood in 1985 and is based in Stratford upon Avon. The company produces Teletubbies, Brum and the international programme exchange Open A Door for the BBC, and Rosie and Jim and Tots TV for the ITV network.

  • Mivi - just one of the millions of children who love the TeletubbiesTeletubbies is seen by children in 120 territories covered by 59 broadcasters in 44 countries and has been translated into 21 languages. Through licensing agreements there have been best selling Teletubbies toys, books, records, videos and magazines in the UK, and now, around the world. The series has stimulated an unprecedented national debate in the UK on attitudes towards the very youngest children and the way in which they learn language and early thinking skills.
  • Tots TV, in which three puppets Tilly Tom and Tiny share a secret magic house with their friend Donkey, was the first children's programme in which a character spoke entirely in a foreign language: Tilly (who speaks in French in the UK; Spanish in versions produced for the USA, and Afrikaans in South Africa). The series is shown in 28 countries.
  • Rosie and Jim, the stories of two ragdolls who travel the waterways of Britain with their friend Duck, and come alive when grown ups aren't looking, is exported to six countries, including Bosnia and South Africa. Anne Wood was among the first programme producers to foresee the potential of video nearly 10 years ago when sales of more than one million videos of the programme confirmed her conviction that broadcasters were wrong to ignore this audience.
  • Brum, the adventures of a little yellow motor car who lives in a motor museum in the Midlands and brums his way into the big city on the days when it is closed, has been seen in 34 countries and at one time was probably the car most easily recognised by Japanese children.
  • Open A Door has involved broadcasters from 34 countries over the last five years who each produce a five minute story without words from a young child's point of view. These films are exchanged by all participating countries and shown by broadcasters all over the world. There are 15 participating countries in 1999.

Anne Wood became concerned while working as a teacher of English that children did not appear to read for pleasure. She founded the award-winning magazine Books For Your Children to help parents who shared her concern, and this led to her being invited to work in television. The Book Tower, produced for Yorkshire Television, won the Prix Jeunesse.

Her experiments with new ways of storytelling on television led to her adaptation of the book Ragdolly Anna for Yorkshire Television, and in 1982 she became Head of Children's Television on TVam, introducing Roland Rat, and the magazine show for very young children, Rub a Dub Tub.

Anne Wood left TVam to set up Ragdoll Productions with the motto RAGDOLL WORKS FOR CHILDREN, believing that television can make an important contribution to the developing aims, aspirations and imaginative development of children. The company was registered in 1985.

She believes passionately that television has an important role in developing children's imaginative resources. Her company's production methods are based on observation, collaboration and improvisation, working with a team built around gifted performer/writers.

Anne Wood is 61. She was born in Co. Durham, and now lives in Warwickshire, where she is renovating a house and restoring a wild flower meadow. Her son Chris is Head of Research and Development at Ragdoll Productions, and her daughter, Katherine, is the director of a contemporary art organisation. Anne's husband, Barrie, who for a long time maintained his independent career as a film buyer and scheduler in the television industry, now works alongside her in the family business.

  • At its inception the company was based in Anne's then home in Birmingham.
  • For the first 12 years of Ragdoll Productions' existence, the company was financed by Anne Wood, who drew a minimum salary and did not draw a dividend, and the family home was held as security against the company's overdraft.
  • Initial profit on turnover for many years was as low as 1% rising to 10% by March 1998.
  • By the financial year 1997 - 1998 (the first in which the company's most successful series Teletubbies was shown in the UK) profit before tax had increased to 700,000.
  • For the financial year 1998 - 1999 turnover had risen to around 20 millions with pre-tax profit margins improved to around 45% (approximately 9 million). The company remains a private one.
  • The structure of the share holding gives Anne Wood 35% of the capital, Barrie Wood 25%, Family Trusts 25%, and a body which is in the process of registration as a charity, the Ragdoll Foundation, 15%.
  • The company operates on four sites in Stratford upon Avon (where headquarters and the retail outlet are situated), with other premises in Pinewood Studios; on land in rural Warwickshire where Tots TV and Teletubbies are filmed; and also in London.
  • Ragdoll's premises will be consolidated onto one site to be known as The Ragdoll Space from 2001 which will incorporate a large area to be given over to children's play as an inspiration to both staff and visitors.
  • The success of the company is enabling Anne to expand her young team by recruiting from areas outside of television production. The aim of the whole team is to safeguard and extend the role of the programmes beyond the boundaries of the television screen and into additional areas of children's imaginative experiences.

Ragdoll Production Awards

Anne Wood was made a Fellow of the Royal Television Society in 1998.

In the previous year, in recognition of her outstanding long-term contribution to the industry in the Midland region, she was awarded THE BAIRD MEDAL.

Teletubbies

1997 - Grand Prize; Winner, Pre-school Education Category
24th Japan Prize International Contest, Tokyo "Teletubbies -- Playing in the Rain"

1997 - City Of Birmingham Award
Best Midlands Produced Children's Television Production of 1997
(Celebrating a unique contribution to the media industry in the region)

1997 - Award For Children's Entertainment
Royal Television Society

1997 - Programmes Award
Awards of Excellence (Video Home Entertainment)
"Dance with the Teletubbies"
"Here Come The Teletubbies"

1998 - The Nats Children's Award
Sixth Annual Awards for Independent Television Productions

1998 - Children's Bafta
Best Pre-School Programme

1999 - The Indies Nickleodeon UK Children's Award
Seventh Annual Awards for Independent Television Productions

Tots TV

1993 - Tv Quick - Gold Award

1996 - Prix Jeunesse

1996 - BAFTA

1997 - BAFTA

1997 - Retail Marketing Award (Highly Commended)
Awards of Excellence (Video Home Entertainment)
"Fluffy Little Chicks"

Rosie and Jim

1992 - TV ONTARIO

Brum

1990 - New York Film and Television Festival

1991 - New York Film and Television Festival

1991 - Birmingham Film and Television Festival

Magic Mirror 

1990 - New York Film and Television Festival
(The Goose Girl, The Hobyahs, Jack & The Beanstalk)

1990 - Chicago International Festival Of Children's Films

Open a Door (Series 2)

1996 - Prx Jeunesse
"The Boy, The Slum and The Pan Lids" (Brazil) Highest rating for Realisation, and runner up in Under 7 (fiction) category

1998 - Festivals Of Light Filmfest
Seattle, USA
Award: Most Popular Film of the Festival, "Tezi" (Brazil)

1998 - Seoul International Family Film Festival, Korea
First Prize, Short Live-Film Section
"Jasper", directed by Robin Stevens (UK)

More Information:
Chris Bates 0121 472 6739
Carole Thomson 01789 404100

  

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CWN / BusinessRagdoll Productions / Press Releases / 29 Apr 99

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