Six Smart Women Discussing Doctor Who

VerityExtraVerityBookNo, that title doesn’t mean we’re fighting amongst ourselves (though it’s true we’re not in total agreement about this week’s topic). Join Deb, Erika, Liz, Lynne, and Tansy as we talk about Richard Marson’s new biography of Verity Lambert, Drama and Delight: The Life of Verity Lambert. Verity did an awful lot more than just launching Doctor Who. Her successes ranged from television to cooking to friendship. We chat about it all and discuss whether we thought the book succeeds as a biography.

Will you be running out to nab this book? Let us know in the comments!


Related links:
Drama and Delight The Life of Verity Lambert (paperback version–click the link in the text above for hardback)
The Life and Scandalous Times of John Nathan-Turner
Verity! Extra! – Matt Smith, Adieu and JN-T Ado
Catalogue raisonné
Adam Adamant Lives!

Download or listen now (runtime 1:04:54)  

Comments on: "Extra! – Verity! on Verity!" (6)

  1. James C said:

    Good discussion, both about Verity Lambert and the virtues of different approaches to biography.

    On the latter, I nearly yelled at my phone on the train just now, “It’s so obvious! Liz should be the one to write that second biography!” But then the show went on and I wondered if she should do the early women at the BBC book instead. What the hell, do both!

    Meanwhile, the closest thing that is on the shelves at the moment is Nick Hornby’s ‘Funny Girl’. It’s not without its problems (see a recent Pop Culture Happy Hour for a very good critique) but the first half in particular does a fine job in painting a picture of the BBC in the 1960s.

  2. Richard S. said:

    Thanks for all your thorough & insightful analysis. I tend to read biographies pretty regularly (Currently Reading: Fathomless Riches by the Revd Richard Coles of Radio 4 & Communards fame). My favourite biogs usually contain a heavy dose of nostalgia & 20th century social history, so the Verity Lambert one sounds right up my bookshelf. I think I might’ve heard Marie Cat giving it a Four Paws Up as well?

    My eldest sister owned a Great Dane from the mid-1970s til the mid-1980s. I have a photo of myself as an 8-year-old lad sitting beside Tamora (it’s from Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus to be exact) as a young puppy, and her head is about the size of my entire torso. Fortunately, I was able to learn the raised hand command for, “Please stop hurtling towards me and veer off sideways with seconds to spare, please, please, please… Thank you.”

    On a completely related topic, my early childhood fear of the Daleks meant that I refused to watch “Genesis” at the time of original UK broadcast, but I did actually see glimpses of one episode, and in colour too, because it was on TV at the Great Dane breeder’s house when my sister took me there one Saturday, providing exact dating evidence for that incident. Doctor Who as personal almanac. It’s a thing, people.

  3. Verity Bookclub? Yes, please!

    Great discussion, Verities!

    Remember the Competency Porn conversation? Yep-this is it. Really enjoyed Lynn, Liz and Tansy strutting their stuff so expertly…so competently. 🙂

    I also very much know the amount of time you all have to put in to be able to have a conversation like this-so I am doubly appreciative!

    Not sure I’ll read the book. I’m with Deb and Lynn, I prefer a good yarn. Yet, your point about the unique role this book fills in terms of historical documentation is a good one. So, I’ll download and it give it a try. We’ll see how far I get.

  4. James McCrory said:


    ‘Debs may be interested to know that there is a webpage about the history of women at the BBC =

    (This link works from the UK – I don’t know if it works in USA or other countries however – please check.)

    (Note anything within these brackets () is mine)

    Here are some interesting snippets – just in case:

    Lord Reith’s – (Director General of the BBC) – first appointment in January 1923 was his personal secretary, Isabel Shields.

    Women were only just beginning to enter the workplace in large numbers. Although the vote had been won in 1918, it was first limited to women aged over thirty {it wasn’t extended to all women until 1928} and it was only in 1919 that the professions such as law, accounting and veterinary surgery were required by Act of Parliament to admit women.

    (It was the women’s wartime service, during the 1914-1918 World War that had led to the change.)

    In 1927, Hilda Matheson became the BBC’s first Director of Talks. Head-hunted by Reith, she transformed the broadcasting of the spoken word, hugely raising the profile of the BBC. The Week in Westminster, which she initiated in1929, was originally aimed at educating newly enfranchised women about the workings of parliament, with all the speakers being female MPs.

    During the Second World War, (1939 – 1946 for us) as men were called up BBC women were increasingly called upon to fill the available posts. From June 1941, eight hundred women were trained as engineers.

    In February 1943, a crèche was opened at Caversham to cater for the needs of the female monitoring staff.

    (This would be for the BBC monitoring service which today intercepts and records TV and radio signals from around the world, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. For example when North Korean TV transmitted information regarding a UK school party arrested by the regime, this was shown on the 10 pm BBC TV news.)

    (The BBC wartime monitoring service is likely to be different from the Y-service which intercepted enemy military signals first German, then as the war progressed, Italian and Japanese. The coded signals were passed to Bletchley Park, where thousands of women were involved.)

    The BBC employed Una Marson; its first black woman producer from 1941; she worked on the radio show Calling the West Indies.

    (Many, many black people had volunteered for wartime service, including Jamaicans.)

    1948 saw the arrival in television of one of the most influential woman to have ever been employed by the BBC, Grace Wyndham Goldie. By the end of the 1950s, as Assistant Head of Television Talks, amongst the programmes she had launched were Tonight, Monitor, and the new-look Panorama.

    (Panorama is still occasionally running on TV today; though it’s no longer the cutting edge political programme it once was. It’s probably most famous today for its early April 1st spoof on the Italian spaghetti harvest.)

    In 1973, an internal report highlighted widespread misogyny and discrimination in the Corporation, and held the uncomfortable information that less than 6% of senior posts were held by women….

    Although there has yet to be a female Director General; by 2008 nearly 40% of senior management posts were held by women.

    Try the BBC for information about itself and BBC women.

    I’ll certainly buy the verity book if I see it; but it’s the book about the companions edited by two people called Liz that I’ll be looking for.


    James McC

  5. […] Verity! on Verity! – no, not endless narcissicism but a discussion of Richard Marson’s new biography on […]

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