Beryl Vertue OBE
One of Britain’s most respected Producers, Beryl Vertue has an enviable track record of international success. Originally she was an agent for renowned comedy writers Spike Milligan, Eric Sykes, Ray Galton, Alan Simpson, Johnny Speight and comedy stars Tony Hancock and Frankie Howerd. In the sixties she formed Associated London Films – there she was Associate Producer on The Spy With A Cold Nose, Executive Producer on the silent comedy The Plank starring Eric Sykes and Tommy Cooper, followed by the feature film versions of Till Death Us Do Part, Steptoe And Son, Up Pompeii and a score of comparable films.
In 1967 Robert Stigwood invited Beryl to join his company where she became Deputy Chairman and pioneered the original concept of selling basic television formats to Europe and America. Two such formats became big hits in the USA – Till Death Us Do Part became Norman Lear’s long-running series All In The Family, while Steptoe And Son became Sanford And Son. Beryl then produced several star-studded ‘Movies of the Week’ for all three American networks including The Entertainer starring Jack Lemmon and Cat & Mouse starring Kirk Douglas, the first television roles for both movie stars.
Beryl also produced the Beacon Hill series, based on Upstairs Downstairs for CBS, and Almost Anything Goes, based on It’s A Knockout for ABC. Beryl’s early British producing credits include the series The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie and one of her favourite achievements as Executive Producer, the film Tommy starring Jack Nicholson, The Who, Elton John, Eric Clapton and Tina Turner.
In the 1980s Beryl left the Stigwood Organisation to form her own independent production company Hartswood Films. With an award-winning portfolio of drama, light entertainment and documentary films, Hartswood prides itself on being truly independent. Indeed the company now provides programmes for BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Three, BBC Four, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky.
A quick glance at some of Hartswood’s credits, all of which Beryl has produced or executive produced, reveals the company’s remarkable versatility. Star-studded dramas such as Jekyll and the ITV dramas After Thomas, Wonderful You, Border Café, The English Wife, A Woman’s Guide To Adultery, Codename: Kyril and three series of the award-winning Sherlock for BBC One; outstanding light entertainment including six series and several specials of Simon Nye’s multi-award-winning Men Behaving Badly, four series of Steven Moffat’s Coupling for BBC Two, two series of Carrie & Barry for BBC One, three series of Simon Nye’s award-winning Is It Legal?, two series of My Good Friend and The Savages for BBC One, a series of Fear, Stress & Anger for BBC Two and most recently Me and Mrs Jones for BBC One and The Guilty for ITV.
Beryl has also produced several critically acclaimed documentaries including The Welsh Great Escape for Channel 4; In Love With Elizabeth, a documentary about the early life of the Queen Mother; The War Behind The Wire, Officers And Gentlemen for the BBC and Going To Chelsea for ITV.
In 1999 Beryl was made a member of the Royal Television Society Hall of Fame. Women in Film and Television honoured her with an award in the same year for ‘Outstanding Contributions to the Industry.’ She was Chair of PACT (Producers Alliance of Cinema and Television) for three years and received an OBE in the 2000 New Year’s Honours List for Services to Independent Television Production.
In 2004 Beryl was given a Fellowship from the RTS and also received a BAFTA – the Alan Clark Award for Outstanding Contribution to Television. In 2010, together with daughters Debbie and Sue, Beryl was awarded the Women in Film & TV Achievement of the Year Award for Sherlock.
In 2012 Beryl was recognised by the Royal Television Society with a Lifetime Achievement Award; and later this year also received the Harvey Lee Award for ‘Services to the Broadcasting Industry’ from the Broadcasting Press Guild.