Margaret Suzanne Foster

Magazine executives and art editors have been paying tribute to Margaret Suzanne Foster, who has died, aged 54.

Peter Jackson, who launched Sunday magazine in the News of the World and now lectures in journalism, said: "My abiding image is of a press day at TV Times in the early Seventies when Margaret was a newly recruited layout artist. The editorial floor was a vast open-plan office swarming with 80 bellowing journalists churning out nearly 500 pages per issue in 13 different editions.

"In those non-politically correct days, the air was thick with tobacco smoke and traffic pollution drifted up from Tottenham Court Road. But in the midst of all this was a green oasis in Margaret’s corner of the art department – a profusion of carefully tended houseplants that flourished in this hostile environment."

Margaret was born in Gants Hill in Essex and once enrolled as a Butlins Redcoat during a summer break from Walthamstow School of Art.

It was around this time that she went out with Peter Green, lead guitarist of Fleetwood Mac. When she took him home for the first time, her father demanded to know what she was doing with "that long-haired git".

The next day the family was watching Top of the Pops, and there on screen was Fleetwood Mac. "Isn’t that the chap you’re going out with?" asked her father. "So he’s on TV, eh? Tell him he’s welcome here any time."

She met her future husband, Mike Roberts (now managing director of Scorpio Multimedia), at TV Times, where they worked on the Family Scene section.

One day Mike invited her out for lunch – but Margaret stormed out in the middle of the meal. They had got around to discussing a layout that Mike had rejected that morning. Margaret had designed a three-line caption to the main picture. Mike said it should be cut back to two. When he refused to budge she told him what he could do with the lunch and walked out.

TV Times art director Stanley Glazer said: "She was such a sweet girl with a dreamlike quality. But when it came to a question of what constituted good design, she would fight her corner to the end."

Art editor Geoff Powell saw her somewhat differently. "Watching her train ivy to grow around filing cabinets and along window ledges, I imagined her as a country lady tending her garden."

After TV Times, Margaret freelanced and did shifts on the Daily   Mirror and Amateur Gardening as well as producing elegant coffee-table books. But gardening, and her marriage, were her greatest passions. The day after she died, a case of spring bulbs arrived at their country cottage. In the last stages of her illness, she was already planning next year’s garden.

Garth Gibbs

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