Joy has spent her life telling stories. It started in a delinquency clinic where she was secretary to a group of eccentric psychiatrists. Patients dumped their children in the waiting room and Joy took it upon herself to read to them. She went on to join the BBC as a producer on Listen with Mother and during an attachment to television, wrote a report on Watch with Mother which led to the challenge of devising Play School and Jackanory. Heady, pioneering days! In 1962, she joined the new ITV franchise, London Weekend, where amongst other programmes she master-minded Catweazle. In 1975 she became Head of Children’s Programmes at Yorkshire Television and after ten years, left to become an independent producer. Her company, Grasshopper Productions, set out to produce quality films for children in a market dominated by Disney.
Having spent sixty years working on other people’s stories, Joy is now concentrating on her own writing. She plans to launch Grasshopper Books in 2019, starting with Emma and Grandpa, based on her television series. All the titles published by Grasshopper Books are or will be written and illustrated by Joy in her own unique style.
Joy was a founder member on the Board of Channel 4. Her many achievements include one of the first BAFTA awards for Play School, a Prix Jeunesse for The Book Tower, an Ace Award in Hollywood for The Angel and the Soldier Boy and the prestigious Eleanor Farjeon Award for Services to Children’s Books. She was married to Tony Whitby who was Controller of Radio 4 when he died in 1975. Their three sons also work in the media as do several of her eight grandchildren.
Why Grasshopper? Joy’s first independent series was about three little brothers who run away to find an uninhabited island. It was filmed in Corsica against a background of sizzling cicadas. That’s how it got its title, Grasshopper Island. Afterwards, hopping from one production to another, Grasshopper seemed the ideal company name.