Today, 23rd November 2017, marks 54 years since Doctor Who first exploded onto our televisions. To celebrate, Beth explains why Doctor Who’s first ever producer Verity Lambert was so important and Kezia writes a letter to her inspiration…
You are a true hero to me. Recently, when asked who my biggest inspiration was, I said you! It was something that hadn’t ever occurred to me before but my reaction was instantaneous.
We’ve never met and it may sound strange to some, but I count you as one of the most important women in my life. Your work has shaped my relationships, fuelled my creativity, made me a content creator by trade, all because of the work you did 54 years ago.
I started making YouTube videos because of the show you made, which taught me how to film and edit but also meet some of my closest friends and built up my interest in digital content – the field in which I now work. I write, photograph, film, edit and draw all around the show you put together. And that’s not even scratching the surface on the hours I’ve talked, debated, cried and laughed over Doctor Who.
It’s so important to me that you were a woman, to know that the person steering the show from the very beginning was a 28 year old young woman not dissimilar to me. You pushed through adversity every day. Every brush off, snide comment and misogynistic joke didn’t stop you, and even though you got to see a little of how much your work meant, I wish you could see it now! Verity, we’ve done it – a female Doctor! Can you believe it? In a way, I hope she’s just like you – passionate, creative, respectful, strong and with piss and vinegar in her veins (of course).
Admiration and love forever and always,
To me, Verity Lambert was not only one of the most important people in Doctor Who history, but a feminist icon. In 1963, she became the BBC’s first female drama producer, beginning a new era for women in the television industry. Full of ‘piss and vinegar’ (as then head of drama Sydney Newman described her), she worked hard to prove she had just what it takes to produce brilliant drama despite the scarcity of women having such prominent roles within television.
54 years later, Doctor Who is one of the most successful long running shows of all time. It has spanned 36 series’, a TV movie and 5 spin off shows. Some of TV’s most loved writers, actors, directors and producers have been influenced by its incredible history and have even gone on to work on it. Shown in over 94 countries, it is a true phenomenon. As a young female fan heavily influenced by Doctor Who, it is incredibly important to me that the BBC’s first female producer had such a huge part in bringing the show to life. For a young woman of just 28 years old to produce such historic work is truly inspiring, especially considering how hard she had to work to be considered as good as the men working around her.
Today we still struggle with sexism and the character of The Doctor has been played by 12 different white men for the last 54 years. Verity changed the world of feminism and women in television forever when she was appointed on Doctor Who, but things are still only just starting to become a little more equal. This Christmas our hero will regenerate into a woman for the first time ever, splitting opinions and proving that sexism is still rampant in a fandom fuelled by a character who stands for equality throughout the universe. This is huge for the show, but also massive for the feminism movement. Jodie Whittaker will not only take on the biggest role in television, but will be paid exactly the same as her male predecessor (A huge win considering the paygap is currently at a massive 18% in the UK). Verity Lambert and our favourite time traveller have been helping shape the world for women for 54 years, proving just how special Doctor Who is. Happy birthday Doctor Who, and the making of one of the most important women in televisions history!