24 November 2007

RIP Verity Lambert

Verity Lambert was an excellent example of the kind of side-benefits being a Doctor Who fan can bring you.

Never mind that she was the show's original producer, a role that became increasingly important to shaping the view of the series until finally it was a cult of personality (the 2005 revival has thankfully not gone this route, even with one central "showrunner" -- Russell T. Davies -- handling an awful lot of it).

Verity Lambert was a Very Important and Influential Person in the history of British television, and for women in film and TV in general all over the world. She was, along with many of Doctor Who's early staff, a pioneer. She got an OBE, fer pete's sake.

Yet, thanks to her love of that early show (one of many she was responsible for, and many that were very good indeed), she met and passed on her torch to the fans that adopted that and other of her creations, and met many of her audience (even sailing on a Doctor Who cruise and helping said fans construct a fan-video!).

You get to meet a lot of really cool, really interesting, and sometimes even capital-I Important people when you're a Doctor Who fan. For some crazy reason, they make themselves accessible to us whiny, crazy nerds.

To me, her achievements put her on a very high plane indeed, that kind of lofty Olympus that is inhabited by honest-to-gosh practical-use geniuses like Steve Wozniak, Thomas Edison, Michael Faraday and suchlike.

Sure, she was "only" a TV and movie producer, but her sure and steady output of high-quality stuff helped make sure that TV became established as its own medium, not a poor relation to the movies. She imagined ways of creating magic on the smallest of early TVs with the most primitive of effects and the most limited of budgets -- it's said that the first few seasons of Doctor Who were done on a budget of roughly $4,000 per episode (maybe $10,000 in today's dollars) -- and yet it was enough to shape the imaginations of an entire generation. In particular, her contribution to Doctor Who and Adam Adamant Lives! and other such programmes (including what many would call the definitive version of The Naked Civil Servant) led many of the early fans to become active participants in the arts of TV and filmmaking themselves.

Surely, there is no higher compliment to pay a craftsmanwoman. She left enormous shoes to fill, and happily more and more women are helping to fill them.

Godspeed, Verity Lambert.

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