Some major names in the history of British television gathered on Sunday 29th May to honour the pioneering producer Verity Lambert, as Doctor Who’s very first director Waris Hussein and former showrunner Steven Moffat jointly unveiled a blue plaque on the wall of Riverside Studios in Hammersmith.
As the first ever female producer in the BBC drama department, Verity made a name for herself launching Doctor Who in 1963. Across a long and prestigious career, she produced dozens of successful and fondly remembered programmes, such as Take Three Girls, Budgie, The Naked Civil Servant, Rock Follies, Edward and Mrs Simson, The Flame Trees of Thika, Minder and Jonathan Creek. She died in 2007.
There was a sense of déjà vu at Riverside (the former BBC studios-turned-arts venue) because the Doctor Who Appreciation Society had already installed the same plaque to Verity in 2014 – also unveiled by Waris Hussein. However, Riverside closed shortly afterwards for redevelopment. It reopened in 2019 but had hardly got up and running before the pandemic hit. So DWAS held Verity’s plaque in safekeeping and organised this second unveiling in 2022.
Those in attendance included many of her friends, colleagues and admirers, such as actors Caroline Quentin, Larry Lamb, Carole Ann Ford and Anna Carteret, writer Lynda La Plante, Philip Hinchcliffe (who produced Doctor Who in the 1970s), and even Michael Grade (the TV executive who notoriously cancelled Doctor Who in the 1980s). Clive Doig was there too. A vision mixer on the early Doctor Whos, he later devised many children’s programmes, and still provides the weekly Trackword in the Puzzle pages of Radio Times.
The main focus of the day was a screening of episode 1 of Shoulder to Shoulder, a 1974 BBC drama about the suffragettes and a passion project for Lambert. Two of its stars Dame Siân Phillips (who played Emmeline Pankhurst) and Lady Stephens aka Patricia Quinn (who played Christabel Pankhurst) formed a panel with the show’s director Hussein, together with Doctor Who legend Carole Ann Ford (who played the Doctor’s granddaughter Susan).
It was a special day for Verity Lambert, the DWAS and for the impressively refurbished Riverside Studios. Here are some photos from the event and from the Radio Times Archive...
And photographs from the Radio Times Archive taken by Don Smith in the 1970s.
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