I learned of the death of Verity Lambert, best known as the first producer of Doctor Who, from Tim Chapman’s comment on my post celebrating that programme’s anniversary; and I considered taking the post down as a mark of respect, especially given the lettering on the cake in the illustration. But no: that picture exists because of the pleasure that Verity Lambert’s work gave, and continues to give, to millions of people around the world, and that is what should be remembered.
And it wasn’t just Doctor Who. After leaving that series, she helped to bring us, in one capacity or another, programmes such as Adam Adamant Lives!, The Naked Civil Servant, Rock Follies, Minder, Widows, Rumpole of the Bailey, GBH and Jonathan Creek (and also Eldorado, but de mortuis nihil nisi bonum and all that).
Much is said these days about how diverse and inclusive the new Doctor Who is. But when Verity Lambert started the show in 1963, it was quite the breakthrough for a young woman to become the producer of a BBC drama series – and she followed it up by appointing a young Asian man, Waris Hussein, to direct the first story. Lambert’s subsequent career shows how valuable that breakthrough was.
There’s an obituary here. Read it, raise a glass, and go and watch an episode of your favourite Verity Lambert production. It’s “An Unearthly Child” for me.