Welcome, Guest. Please Login
YaBB - Yet another Bulletin Board
  To join this Forum send an email with this exact subject line REQUEST MEMBERSHIP to bbcstaff@gmx.com telling us your connection with the BBC.
Page Index Toggle Pages: 1
Send Topic Print
Wendy Duggan (Read 7464 times)
YaBB Newbies

Posts: 7

Wendy Duggan
Feb 23rd, 2012, 6:23pm
It is with with great sadness that I have to announce the death of Wendy Duggan after a long illness.  For many years Wendy was Animal Advisor to the BBC TV Children's Department and worked on Play School for 24 years (1965-88) providing all the resident pets, including Katoo the cuckatoo and visiting pets and was known affectionately by myself, presenters and production team as "Pets" Wendy.

Wendy had studied photography and during the Sixties worked as an assistant to the great fashion and portrait photographer, Cecil Beaton (1904-80) who was knighted in 1972.  Wendy's uncle was a vet and bred birds and it was this that gave Wendy her lifelong interest in the species. She later gained a zoology degree and became a Fellow of the Zoological Society.  Wendy became synonymous with animals to generations of producers when they requested a particular animal for the studio. She would come up on the bus from Putney where she lived, often accompanied by her husband Ron, carrying the requested item, and worked on many different series over the years, often with producer Anne Denehy and presenters Stuart Bradley and Don Spencer.

I first met Wendy in the early 1980s when I joined the BBC and was honoured to be invited as her guest to the wrap party after the final Play School in March 1988 and after I left the BBC we kept in touch.  Wendy finally retired in 1998 and in 2008 celebrated her 40th wedding anniversary with Ron Riches. Sadly Wendy suffered a stroke in 2007, but was delighted that I had finally been commissioned to write the history of Play School (Here’s A House - A Celebration of Play School published by Kaleidoscope Publishing 2010).

Wendy and Ron have requested no flowers.  The funeral takes place on Monday 5th March 2012 at 14:00 at Putney Vale cemetery - there is to be a memorial fund for stroke ward at St George's Hospital, Tooting.  Donations & cards can be sent to Ron Riches, 20 Oakhill Road, Putney, London SW15 2QR.
Back to top
IP Logged
YaBB Administrator

Posts: 2893

Re: Wendy Duggan
Reply #1 - Mar 5th, 2012, 1:05pm
This is taken from The Guardian:

Wendy Duggan obituary
Animal adviser to the BBC's Play School
by Bob Chaundy
Sunday 4 March 2012 17.36 GMT

For more than 20 years, Wendy Duggan, who has died aged 84, provided and supervised all the animals on the BBC programme Play School. In so doing, she played a telling if inconspicuous part in the life of children throughout the nation. Every Wednesday, she was key to the success of Pets Day, when animals such as rabbits, chimps, puppies, donkeys and, most notably, her cockatoo Katoo, entertained and enthralled the young audience.

Sometimes she and her husband, Ron, would take Katoo and some of the smaller animals to the studio on the bus from their home in Putney, south-west London. There were caged birds in every room, at one time as many as 150, each lovingly cared for and each with its own story. Duggan was regarded by her colleagues as embodying the soul of Play School; she was caring and gentle yet possessed the confidence of expertise. Quietly eccentric, and with an aristocratic bearing, she was also a very private person who had extraordinary social connections yet was always a model of discretion.

She was born in London. Her father, Hugh Jones, was an architect, and her mother, June Dobson, was a socialite descended from the 17th-century painter William Dobson. After attending the Royal Hospital school in Suffolk, Wendy studied photography under Cecil Beaton. This introduced her to a world of celebrities and royals – she attended the wedding of Antony Armstrong-Jones (later Lord Snowdon) to Princess Margaret. Yet her true love was working with animals and particularly birds, a passion she inherited from her maternal grandfather who kept tropical birds at his home in Lodsworth, West Sussex.

She married Ken Duggan, an interior-design company director, and began breeding birds and showing them, often at stately homes, winning many prizes. Parrots were her speciality and her general Dr Dolittle qualities soon became apparent to the BBC. In 1964, the founding producer of Play School, Joy Whitby, hired her for the programme. Duggan's connections with the Zoological Society of London, of which she became a fellow in 1976, enabled her to provide all manner of animals including a baby elephant. The animals under her care were always safe and never exploited. She managed to ease the apprehension of the crew towards certain creatures, particularly snakes, but inevitably, things didn't always go to plan. Katoo would often nip the presenters and once, during a rehearsal, an eagle was spooked by a sound boom, flew up into the studio lights and showered the cast and crew with its droppings. On another occasion a baby chimp began to urinate on the studio floor during a live broadcast, necessitating the presenters to speak more loudly.

After Ken's death, Wendy married Ron Riches, a former airline pilot, in 1968. Through her BBC connections she became a friend to many actors and celebrities including John Le Mesurier, Elaine Stritch, James Beck and Tony Hancock. On one occasion Hancock, who shared her love for animals, insisted on accompanying her to Charing Cross hospital, where she was overseeing the x-raying of rabbits to show children that the process was not harmful. He brought the radiology department down with laughter.

She continued to supply animals for BBC children's programmes after Play School ended in 1988 and retired 10 years later.

She is survived by Ron.

• Wendy Eveline Duggan-Riches, animal adviser and ornithologist, born 31 January 1928; died 20 February 2012
Back to top

The Administrator.
IP Logged
Page Index Toggle Pages: 1
Send Topic Print