Born: 27th November 1935 (as Verity Ann Lambert)
Verity Lambert was born in Hampstead, London. Although her parents encouraged her to pursue an undergraduate degree on the strength of a strong secondary school record, she instead completed a diploma in French at the Sorbonne, followed by a secretarial course back in the UK. Lambert then worked as a typist for both a hotel and a lawyer's office, before her father's connections won her a job as a secretary with Granada Television in 1956. Shortly thereafter, she moved to ABC and was promoted to production assistant on the anthology series Armchair Theatre.
In the summer of 1958, Sydney Newman became ABC's Head of Drama and the producer of Armchair Theatre. In November of that year, Newman was supervising the live transmission of the play Underground, directed by Ted Kotcheff. When one of the actors collapsed off-screen and died partway through the broadcast, Newman dispatched Kotcheff to the studio floor so that he could hurriedly work with the actors to restructure the remainder of the play, while Lambert directed the camera movements from the gallery.
Lambert then spent time in New York, including a period during which she worked with celebrated television producer David Susskind. Upon her return to ABC in 1962, Lambert hoped to become a director, but found herself relegated to her old role as a production assistant, this time on The Avengers. Lambert began contemplating leaving television altogether, until she received a call from Sydney Newman, who had left ABC to become the BBC's Head of Drama. Newman had created a new science-fiction programme called Doctor Who, and wanted Lambert to be its producer. Lambert would not only become the BBC's youngest producer, but also the first woman appointed to that position within the Corporation.
Although she was not Newman's first choice, Lambert proved to be Doctor Who's greatest champion during its formative days. Most notably, she fought to make The Daleks as its second serial, despite the opposition of both Newman and Head of Serials Donald Wilson to what they felt were low-brow monsters which undermined their educational vision for the series. When the Daleks proved so popular that they made Doctor Who a national institution, Newman and Wilson were forced to acknowledge that Lambert understood the programme better than they did; from then on, she was largely left her to her own devices.
After two years on Doctor Who, Lambert felt it was time to move on. Her final credit appeared on Mission To The Unknown. A short stint on the soap opera The Newcomers was followed by another Sydney Newman adventure series, Adam Adamant Lives!. Next came Detective and the award-winning W Somerset Maugham, only for the BBC to then decline to renew her contract. Lambert moved to LWT, where her productions included Budgie. In 1973, she married LWT cameraman Colin Bucksey, later a prolific director on both sides of the Atlantic; they divorced in 1987 after several years of separation.
Following a cancer scare and a brief return to the BBC for Shoulder To Shoulder, Lambert was appointed Controller of Drama at Thames Television in 1974. The projects she shepherded included Rock Follies, Rumpole Of The Bailey and the much-celebrated The Naked Civil Servant. In 1979, Lambert transitioned to Euston Films, a production company affiliated with Thames Television, as their chief executive. Here she oversaw the early seasons of Minder and a revival of Quartermass, amongst others. In 1982, Lambert shifted to another company with corporate ties to Thames Television, as director of production for movie studio Thorn EMI. Unfortunately, a change in management soon put Lambert at odds with her bosses, and her output was never more than a modest success.
Lambert finally left Thorn EMI to form her own production company: Cinema Verity. She immediately found her stride again, with her very first film -- the Meryl Streep drama A Cry In The Dark, also known as Evil Angels -- receiving enduring critical acclaim. Cinema Verity also had success on television with programmes such as May To December and GBH. In the early Nineties, Lambert considered taking over the production of Doctor Who, which the BBC had cancelled in 1989. Unfortunately, Cinema Verity's fortunes took a nosedive in 1992 with the debut of the costly, poorly-received soap opera Eldorado. Its cancellation effectively began to draw the curtain on Lambert's career, although she still went on to produce a number of shows including Jonathan Creek and The Cazalets.
In 2002, Queen Elizabeth appointed Lambert an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for her services to film and television production. Three years later, she was diagnosed with cancer for a second time. Lambert was then producing the sitcom Love Soup, which would become her final television series. Cancer claimed her life on November 22nd, 2007.
Just a few months earlier, Doctor Who had paid tribute to Lambert by giving the name “Verity” to the mother of the Doctor's human self in Human Nature / The Family Of Blood. Now the 2007 Doctor Who Christmas special, Voyage Of The Damned, was hastily amended to sport a dedication to the programme's first producer. In 2013, Jessica Raine played Lambert in An Adventure In Space And Time, Mark Gatiss' chronicle of the genesis of Doctor Who. In 2015, Miwk Publishing released a biography, Drama And Delight: The Life And Legacy Of Verity Lambert, written by Richard Marson.
|Updated 4th May 2020|
|Main Page||Cast and Crew|