Beryl Vertue. Credit: Dave Benett/Getty Images

Legendary TV producer Beryl Vertue – who through her company, Hartswood Films, produced such hits as Men Behaving Badly and Sherlock – has died at the age of 90.

The news of Vertue’s passing was confirmed by her daughters Sue and Debbie (who also serves as co-producers at Hartswood), who said in a statement to the Press Association: “It’s with the heaviest of hearts that we have to share the sad news that mum/Beryl passed away peacefully last night [Saturday February 12]. It wasn’t [COVID-19], it was just her nearly 91-year-old body saying enough is enough.”

The sisters noted that they were both by Vertue’s side as she passed, explaining that there was “nothing wrong with her brain” as “earlier this week she was grilling us both about work”. The pair continued: “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.

Touching on Vertue’s keenness to have Sue and Debbie involved with her legacy, they said: “She wasn’t just our mum, she was our best friend, our mentor, our adviser, 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. She was more than a mother to us – she was also a friend. To many in the industry she was more than a friend – she was often a mother.”

Vertue – who was made an OBE (Order of the British Empire) in 2000, and later a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) in 2016 – launched her career as a secretary at the Associated London Scripts agency. She grew to become a key member of the team’s core roster, representing a suite of the sharpest comedy writers in British television around the 1950s and ‘60s.

Towards the end of the ‘60s, Vertue shifted her focus to the burgeoning surge of British TV adaptations in the US. Among her biggest hits in this period were Steptoe And Son (adapted into Sanford And Son for American audiences) and Till Death Do Us Part (which became All In The Family). In 1968, she was an executive producer on the film adaptation of the latter show. 

The 1980s saw Vertue launch Hartswood Films. Initially dealing in feature-length affairs, the company would eventually spur a legion of classic shows like Men Behaving Badly – which ran for six series between 1992 and ’98 – Is It Legal? and Coupling. The company’s longest-running series was Sherlock, which ran from 2010 to 2017; the show’s co-creator, Steven Moffat, is Vertue’s son-in-law.

Take a look at some of the tributes paid to Vertue below:

The post Pioneering TV producer Beryl Vertue has died, aged 90 appeared first on NME.


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