It’s with great sadness that we confirm the passing of Beryl Vertue, the legendary producer and agent who was a driving force in the TV industry. Her last work as executive producer was on the much-loved series, Sherlock.
Doctor Who fans will probably know her as the former agent of Terry Nation; indeed, she was responsible for negotiating the rights for the titular creatures in The Daleks.
Beryl had two children, one of whom is Sue Vertue, the greatly-respected producer who is married to former Doctor Who showrunner, Steven Moffat. Moffat worked with Beryl many times, including on Coupling, Jekyll, and the aforementioned Sherlock. It was Steven who announced the sad news, in a touching Instagram post which reads:
“The saddest news. Beryl Vertue passed away yesterday evening. The best possible friend and the best possible mother in law. It was very peaceful at the end and her daughters were with her. Here are Debbie and Sue talking about their extraordinary mother:
“‘It’s with the heaviest of hearts that we have to share the sad news that mum/Beryl passed away peacefully last night. It wasn’t Covid, it was just her 90 year old body saying enough is enough. We were there so the passing was as good as one could hope for. Nothing wrong with her brain – even earlier this week she was grilling us both about work. It’s really impossible to believe that she has gone though, because I know we’re not alone in thinking that somehow she’d go on forever. She meant so much to so many. She wasn’t just our mum, she was our best friend, our mentor, our advisor, our role model, our holiday companion, our giggle-maker and our boss! She adored her family and was so proud of us all. She also adored her career and spending time with everybody She loved a glass of wine at lunchtime, she loved asking the common sense question, she was often the last person at a party, she didn’t suffer fools, she was fair, she was kind, she was fun, she was stubborn, in fact she was the total package and we will miss her beyond words’.”
It’s a beautiful tribute to an incredible lady.
Beryl actually started out as Alan Simpson’s secretary, and she moved over to the co-operative writers’ agency, Associated London Scripts (ALS), when Simpson founded it with Ray Galton, Spike Milligan, and Eric Sykes. She became an agent effectively by accident, but her talent was obvious, so she represented a number of comedy stars, including Frankie Howerd, Tony Hancock, and Terry Nation.
She created Hartswood Films in the 1980s, a production company responsible for a number of hit shows, including Men Behaving Badly, the upcoming Moffat-penned adaptation of The Time Traveller’s Wife, and Sherlock. Beryl was clearly very proud of the Consulting Detective series: in 2013, when she appeared on Desert Island Discs, one of her choices was the London Session Orchestra’s performance of “SHERlocked”.
It is, perhaps, best to remember her through another of her music picks, however: Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World”, a beautiful piece which highlights her innovation, joyfulness, and enthusiasm.
Beryl is survived by her daughters, Sue and Debbie — and of course, her amazing television legacy. Our thoughts go to her family and friends.