Date Of Birth / Death: – 27 November 1935 – 22 November 2007
Doctor Who Producer: 1963 – 1965
Succeeded by: John Wiles
Verity Lambert was the first producer of Doctor Who, from 1963 – until 1965; when she was replaced by John Wiles.
The vision behind the show
Verity Lamb joined the BBC in 1963 and was made the producer of Doctor Who for her first assignment. Doctor who at the time, was being pitched as a light-hearted, Saturday morning kids show. Featuring, a time-traveller visiting various periods in Earth’s history to provide entertainment and education.
The show had been devised by Sydney Newman, who was the BBC head of drama and had worked with Lambert before. Suggesting her, for the role of producer.
At the time, Lambert made headlines, being one of the youngest and female producers of a mainstream television show – at age 28.
It was Lambert who lobbied to get character-actor Wiliam Hartnell the part of the Doctor. Hartnell was not first-choice but Lambert’s perseverance paid off and Hartnell was cast.
As a result of the faith Lambert placed in Hartnell, they had a very good working-relationship, during their time on the show together. Hartnell was notoriously difficult to control – as future producers were to discover to their cost.
“Doctor Who was never intended to last just six weeks. Right from the beginning, we were told it would be a year-round production. Certainly by the time the first episode was shown, we had most of our scripts together for the full season. The only thing we didn’t know then was that there would be another season after that!”
Lambert later admitted, she was not a fan of the pilot episode “An Unearthly Child – 1963”. As it did not fit, with her vision of how she thought the show should develop.
At the beginning of it’s run, Doctor Who was a slow-burner. Everything changed, with the broadcast of the third serial; The Daleks.
It was the introduction of the Daleks, which took Doctor Who into the stratosphere of popularity (despite recommendations from the BBC head of drama not to do the ‘Dalek script’). They caught the public imagination in the early 1960’s and even coined their own phenomena – “Dalek-mania”.
The resulting publicity put Lambert herself into the public eye, as producer. Especially in regards to being a young female – in charge of a popular prime-time show.
Over Lambert’s run, she took the initial brief of a children’s show – about a time-travelling alien; who visits Earth’s past, for educational purposes. To craft the beginnings of a cultural phenomenon.
Capitalising on the popularity of the Daleks, season 2’s The Dalek Invasion Of Earth. Set down the original Earth-invasion template that was to be successfully used again and again through Doctor Who’s eventual 26 year run.
Following an 18-month stint in charge, Lambert decided it was time to step aside from Doctor Who. Fearing personal burnout and the show running out of steam (without fresh ideas).
“There comes a time when a series needs new input,” she later told Doctor Who Magazine. “It’s not that I wasn’t fond of Doctor Who, I simply felt that the time had come. It had been eighteen very concentrated months, something like seventy shows. I know people do soaps forever now, but I felt Doctor Who needed someone to come in with a different view!”
Lambert left in 1965 and went onto work for various Television companies, eventually founding her own company ‘Cinema Verity’ in 1985 and producing various high-budget cinema productions.
Lambert was not a fan of 1980’s Doctor Who or the direction it took throughout the decade. Once, Lambert, was particularly scathing of it, by unflatteringly labelling it; “irreverant pantomine”.
In 1992, following the cancellation of Doctor Who (2 years earlier); Lambert attempted (unsuccesfully) to buy the rights to Doctor Who to restart the programme.
She was unsuccessful and the rights eventually passed to American producer Phillip Segal (and the subsequent Doctor Who: TV movie was eventually produced).
In later life, Lambert took part in interviews and commentary for some of the Doctor Who DVD releases. She also received an OBE for services to the TV and film industiry in 2002. Lambert died of cancer, in 2007 – aged 71.
Season One – 1963-64 :
An Unearthly Child – (Pilot) ???⚪⚪
The Edge of Destruction⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Marco Polo (missing)????⚪
The Keys of Marinus????⚪
The Reign of Terror (Parts 4 & 5 missing)???⚪⚪
Season Two – 1964-65 :
Planet of Giants????⚪
The Dalek Invasion of Earth⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Web Planet????⚪
The Crusade (parts 2 & 4 missing)?????
The Space Museum???⚪⚪
The Time Meddler ????⚪
Galaxy 4 (parts 1, 2 & 4 missing)????⚪
Mission to the Unknown (missing)????⚪