Saturday, 22 November 2008

Verity Ann Lambert, OBE (27 November 1935 - 22 November 2007)

Verity Lambert One year ago Verity Lambert passed away.

Verity was born in London, the daughter of an accountant and was educated at the legendary girls public school Roedean. She left at 16, studied at the Sorbonne in Paris for a year and at a secretarial college in London for eighteen months.

In 1956 at 21, she entered the television industry as a secretary at Granada Television in their press office but left after six months. Following her involuntary departure from Granada she took a job as a shorthand typist at the ‘Associated-British’ subsidiary ABC Television - the North and Midlands weekend contractor - working as a secretary to producer/director Dennis Vance.

Doctor Who began on BBC TV on 23rd November1963. She was appointed to Doctor Who in 1963 she was the youngest producer, and only female drama producer. Verity was drafted in by BBC drama head Sydney Newman to add sparkle to his new science fiction project. Conceived by Newman as an educational science-fiction series for children, the programme concerned the adventures of a crotchety old man travelling through space and time with his sometimes unwilling companions in a ship that was larger on the inside than on the out. It was notably to be made by his drama department and not the children’s unit. The show was a risk, and in some quarters not expected to last longer than thirteen weeks. Lambert oversaw the first two seasons of the programme, eventually leaving in 1965. It ran originally from 1963 - 1989, a 1996 TV movie before returning to the small screen in March 2005 - present.


When Lambert arrived at the BBC in June 1963, she was initially given a more experienced associate producer, Mervyn Pinfield, to assist her. Doctor Who quickly became a success for the BBC, chiefly on the popularity of the alien creatures known as the DALEKS. Lambert's superior, Head of Serials Donald Wilson, had strongly advised against using the script in which the Daleks first appeared, but after the serial's successful airing, he said that Lambert clearly knew the series far better than he did, and he would no longer interfere in her decisions.

The success of Doctor Who and the Daleks also garnered press attention for Lambert herself; in 1964, the Daily Mail published a feature on the series focusing on the perceived attractiveness of its young producer: "The operation of the Daleks ... is conducted by a remarkably attractive young woman called Verity Lambert who, at 28, was not only the youngest but the only female drama producer at BBC T

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