With a history of over 50 years, Doctor Who is a firm favourite in many households up and down the UK. Captivating the minds of the young and old alike, the celebrity appearances, explorative storylines and cult blue phonebox have made it a significant part of British popular culture. With this in mind the history of the show, and who made it what it is today, is probably less known about that it should be. Verity Lambert was the mother of one of our nation’s favourite television programmes, but it was only one of the many strings to her bow.
Verity was both the youngest and the only female producer for the BBC when she started working on Doctor Who in 1963. Although this has become the work that she is best known for, she also worked on many other famous TV series such as Minder and Jonathan Creek. In her earlier career she worked in a variety of different jobs and industries, but her first job in 1956 involved her getting rapidly hired and fired by Granada Television, the reason for which is still unknown. Never one to give up, Verity carried on and landed herself a job as the production assistant at ABC Television, despite aspiring to direct, where she decided that if she didn’t advance in her television career, she would abandon it for good. In 1962 this opportunity came to fruition, and she was recruited by the ingenious Syndey Newman to work on an ‘educational science fiction programme’; thus, Doctor Who was born.
After the BBC, she went on to work with major companies such as Thames Television and as Chief Executive of Euston Films. Now she was at the helm, Lambert demonstrated her interest in producing series that depicted and tackled ‘modern life’s problems’. With her wealth of experience in the industry and seeking a company that wouldn’t restrict her, she founded her own independent production company Cinema Verity in 1985 which gave her the scope to indulge the full extent of her visionary talent.
In 2002 she was awarded both an OBE and a BAFTA for her services to film and television production, but most touchingly, Lambert was honoured in a 2007 Doctor Who episode where the Doctor (under the disguise of John Smith) says his mother’s name was Verity. A gutsy and ambitious woman, she was a fearless pioneer in an male-dominated industry and Lambert’s refusal to limit herself makes her an inspiration for everyone today.
Featured image from The Mirror.