Heartfelt tributes paid to Eastbourne woman who was first female controller of BBC Radio 2

Tributes have been paid to a ‘loyal’ Eastbourne woman who was the first female controller of BBC Radio 2.

Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 11:05 am

Tributes have been paid to a ‘loyal’ Eastbourne woman who was the first female controller of BBC Radio 2.

Frances Line passed away on Wednesday, October 13 and friends have come forward to share their memories.

Edward Thomas, who met Mrs Line through the Eastbourne Civic Society (now the Eastbourne Society) said, “She provided the greatest example of someone starting at the bottom of the ladder and reaching the top under her own steam.

Frances Line SUS-211019-123428001

“She was first interviewed by the BBC as a teenager in the late 50s for the job of a clerk/typist and rose through the ranks to become controller of Radio 2 - and was the first female to achieve that particular post.”

Mr Thomas said Mrs Line had a holiday home in Eastbourne and retired in the town in the mid-90s.

He said, “She then became steeped in life here, becoming vice-president of the Eastbourne Society.

“She was a member of Eastbourne Ashridge Circle, possibly Britain’s largest lecture society.

Frances Line (top) with Anita Harris and Edward Thomas SUS-211019-123548001

“She always took a great interest in the Towner, organising its newsletter for some time.

“After moving from Naomi Close into sheltered accommodation at Marlborough Court, Southfields Road, she became a director of its management company in 2012.

“Frances also became an ambassador for Eastbourne Theatres, helping to promote and publicise the shows.”

Mr Thomas, who was the programme secretary for the Eastbourne Society, also reflected on his friendship with Mrs Line – who was also known as Mrs Lloyd.

He said, “She was very valiant. She certainly had her own ideas.

“On a personal level I can say if you became a friend of Frances, she was unstinting in generosity, and not only materially.

“If you had a problem you could talk to her and she would actively listen, she would make encouraging remarks and she would refer to it the next time you saw her. She was that sort of person I found.

“She had a wealth of friends and particularly in Eastbourne where she came to retire.”

Mr Thomas also reminisced about visiting Mrs Line’s favourite place to eat in Eastbourne, the Mirabelle Restaurant in the Grand Hotel, and doing admin work for her.

The former teacher said, “That was often a lot of fun with the comments that she would make and the memories that she would go over.

“It was her generosity of spirit, her good humour and something that probably a lot of people probably don’t know is that when she moved into sheltered accommodation in Marlborough Court, she was one of the younger ones there and I was quite taken by the way she took to life there and dealt with the more elderly people, and elderly people who were rather depressed.

“She would take hold of them and say, ‘Do you have the Radio Times?’

“She would say, ‘Let’s go through what is on the television today. Do you like this? Do you like this?’, and she would mark off things.

“It was that sort of personal detail with Frances that I found rather touching in her later years.”

Ann Gregory, who met Mrs Line 30 years ago as her husband Robin ran a Radio 2 show, said the former controller was a ‘good and loyal friend’.

She said, “If you were her friend she kept you always. She was very loyal, very knowledgeable about music.”

Mrs Gregory added, “She asked Robin if he would become one of the people on her programme, so he did many 30-minute programmes for her on singers.

“He did that for several years and through that we became very good friends because when she retired from her job she returned here.”