BORN LONDON, NOVEMBER 27, 1935. DIED LONDON, NOVEMBER 22, 2007, AGED 71.
APRODUCER OF high-quality drama in the heyday of television plays, Verity Lambert made her name with the long-running Dr Who series. The only child of a North London accountant, she was taught Hebrew by her father, who belonged to a Reform synagogue, and at 10 was sent to Roedean, the top girls’ boarding school.
She left at 16 to spend a year at the Sorbonne in Paris before taking a secretarial course in London.
Bored by her first job in a hotel, she went to the press department of Granada TV and was fascinated by the new medium. But she was sacked after six months and moved to ABC TV.
Promoted to production assistant, she showed her mettle, when an actor died on set from a heart attack, by helping reorganise the scene on the spot.
After a spell in New York and then with Granada TV, she was called in as producer in 1963 by a former boss, now at the BBC, to launch the Dr Who children’s science fiction series.
With its huge success, she became responsible for several high-calibre BBC dramas before a decision to reduce the amount of drama turned her to commercial TV. From 1974-6 she was controller of drama at Thames TV and returned as drama director in 1981 after freelancing for the BBC.
Her numerous credits included a 1969 award-winning series of Somerset Maugham stories, the 1975 award-winning Naked Civil Servant and the popular legal series, Rumpole of the Bailey.
She went into films as CEO of Thames TV’s Euston Films in 1979, then as production director of Thorn EMI in 1982, finally setting up her own company, Cinema Verity, in 1985.
Credits included the low-life comedy series Minder, Jack Rosenthal’s taxi driver comedy, The Knowledge, and A Cry in the Dark, an Australian drama about a real-life baby disappearance.
She had a feel for scripts and worked closely with writers such as Lynda La Plante and Paul Mendelson. She stoutly defended her high-profile flop , Eldorado, a 1992 sex and sangria series set in Spain, which she said aimed to break down national prejudices.
Her drive, efficiency, focus and sheer love of her work were recognised by colleagues and the Jewish community, which took on board her direct if often impatient approach.
She was a governor of the British Film Institute and the National Film and TV School, and a board member of the Jewish Film Festival. She also graced her mother’s Wizo fete in Brighton. She had no children but doted on her dog.
She won the 1983 Veuve Clicquot Business Woman of the Year award and was Jewish Care’s 1992 Woman of Distinction. She was appointed OBE in 2002 and was due to receive a lifetime award from Women in Film and TV.
She was married to TV producer Colin Bucksey for 14 years but divorced in 1987.
Verity Lambert: tough producer with a sensitive feel for drama