Monday, November 26, 2007

Verity Lambert, R.I.P.

By Mitchell

You probably aren't familiar with the name Verity Lambert. She was a legend in British television, working her way up from personal assistant to David Susskind to become one of the BBC's premier producers. She did "Rumpole of the Bailey," "The Naked Civil Servant," "Edward and Mrs. Simpson" and countless other dramas for the BBC and Thames television, eventually forming her own production company (the cleverly-named Cinema Verity). As a young production assistant she once had to take over direction of a live drama when one of the actors died in the middle of the telecast and the director had to rush down and rewrite his scenes for the rest of the cast.

But it was for one program that she earned eternal fame. In 1963, at the age of 28, she was selected by Sydney Newman to produce for the BBC a science-fiction children's program he had just created - Doctor Who. She was producer for the first two years of the series, casting William Hartnell in the crucial role as the initial Doctor, as well as the Doctor's first three companions - William Russell and Jacqueline Hill as the schoolteachers Ian and Barbara, and Carole Ann Ford, as the Doctor's grand-daughter, Susan. She was also responsible for giving the green light to the introduction of one of the most famous villains in TV science fiction history - the Daleks.

It was Verity Lambert who, in her two years, helped build the foundation for the legendary series that continues to this day. Earlier in the past season, in a story entitled "Human Nature" where the Doctor temporarly assumes the guise of a human, he identifies his parents as "Sydney and Verity." Truer words were never spoken.

Doctor Who premiered for the first time on November 23, 1963, and it was last Thursday, one day short of the 44th anniversary of the premiere, that she died at the age of 71 after a long illness.

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