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Beryl Vertue, the renowned British television producer known for bringing Sherlock Holmes to the screen, has died aged 90.
Across her varied career, Vertue progressed from secretary to talent agent before establishing herself as an award-winning producer of TV and film through her company Hartswood Films.
Her company was also behind the hit sitcom Men Behaving Badly, which ran for six series in the 90s and enjoyed a spin-off in the US.
‘It’s with the heaviest of hearts that we have to share the sad news that mum/Beryl passed away peacefully last night,’ her daughters and Hartswood Films co-producers Sue and Debbie said in a statement.
‘It wasn’t Covid, it was just her nearly 91-year-old body saying enough is enough.’
The cause of death has not yet been disclosed.
Dawn French led the tributes to the late producer, tweeting: ‘Beryl Vertue. Mighty & marvellous. A huge loss.’
And Amanda Abbington, who starred as Mary Watson in Sherlock, wrote: ‘Desperately sad to hear the news about the wonderful and incredible Beryl Vertue.
‘She was a powerhouse of a woman. She used to grab my cheeks and squeeze them really hard for being ‘a funny girl’. Which coming from her was the biggest compliment.
‘She will be so very missed.’
The influential media executive was nicknamed ‘Sherlock’s godmother’ by the show’s star Benedict Cumberbatch (right) for her role in bringing the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle adaption to the BBC
(From left to right) Presenter Heida Reed, Amanda Abbington, Sue Vertue, Beryl Vertue and Steven Moffat, winner of the Radio Times Audience Award for ‘Sherlock’, and presenter Eleanor Tomlinson pose in the winners room at the House of Fraser British Academy Television Awards at Theatre Royal on May 10, 2015 in London, England
Beryl Vertue, the renowned British television producer known for bringing Sherlock Homes to the screen, has died aged 90 (Vertue pictured in 2018 at the Women in Film and TV Awards)
Vertue’s career started when she was asked by Steptoe And Son writers Ray Galton (C) and Alan Simpson (L) to type up their scripts in the early 1950s
Vertue was made an OBE in 2000 and a CBE in 2016 for her work in the TV industry. Vertue is pictured being made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) by the Prince of Wales at an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace, London
(L to R) Mark Gatiss, Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Sue Vertue, Beryl Vertue, and Steven Moffat of Sherlock Holmes pose in front of the winners boards at the Philips British Academy Television Awards held at The Grosvenor House Hotel on May 22, 2011 in London, England
Vertue’s career started when she was asked by Steptoe And Son writers Ray Galton and Alan Simpson to type up their scripts.
When in the mid-1950s the pair set up Associated London Scripts (ALS) with Spike Milligan and Eric Sykes, she began finding work and negotiating fees for figures such as sitcom scriptwriter Johnny Speight and actor-comedian Frankie Howerd, in effect becoming their agent.
She also had success selling shows such as Til Death Us Do Part and All In The Family to the US market.
In 1967, music manager and impresario Robert Stigwood bought a majority stake in ALS and Vertue became managing director of his new company RSO.
She founded Hartswood Films in 1979 and it would go on to produce shows including the hit 1990s sitcom Men Behaving Badly starring Martin Clunes, Neil Morrissey, Leslie Ash and Caroline Quentin, as well as Sherlock and Dracula starring Danish actor Claes Bang.
In a 2016 interview, Vertue said it took a few years for Hartswood Films to get off the ground.
‘I began to lose confidence,’ she recalled. ‘I thought: I can’t do it. Then I happened to see a piece of paper on a desk – God must’ve put it there or somebody – some blurb from a publisher, and there was this book ”Men Behaving Badly.”
‘I thought I’ll send off for that, it’s a funny title, it might be a film… I read the book and then thought it’s a TV series, that’s how it began.’
Vertue’s daughter Sue followed in the TV industry as a producer and is married to writer and producer Steven Moffat, former showrunner of Doctor Who and co-creator of Sherlock.
Vertue was made an OBE in 2000 and a CBE in 2016 for her work in the TV industry.
In 2004, she received Bafta’s Alan Clarke award for outstanding creative contribution to television.
And March 2012 saw her honoured with the lifetime achievement gong at the Royal Television Society Programme Awards.
In 2016, Cumberbatch presented her with a lifetime achievement prize at the Women In Film And TV Awards.
Vertue’s daughters Sue and Debbie said: ‘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.’
Famous names including Dawn French and Benedict Cumberbatch paid tribute to the TV producer
Beryl Vertue with her Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) medal, following an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace, London, 2016
‘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.’
Tributes have flooded in for the legendary producer, including from Sherlock co-creator Mark Gatiss, who launched the show on the BBC with Moffat.
Gatiss today tweeted: ‘Beryl Vertue. What a life. An extraordinary legacy. From Goons to Rag & Bone Men, Daleks to Consulting Detectives. She saw it all and did most of it.
‘But foremost – a wonderful woman, a loyal colleague and an absolute scream. She was loved.’
In 2016, Vertue was presented with a lifetime achievement prize at the Women In Film And TV Awards
Tributes to Vertue have flooded in, led by Sherlock co-creator Mark Gatiss. Gatiss today tweeted: ‘Beryl Vertue. What a life. An extraordinary legacy. From Goons to Rag & Bone Men, Daleks to Consulting Detectives. She saw it all and did most of it. ‘But foremost – a wonderful woman, a loyal colleague and an absolute scream. She was loved.’
Charlotte Moore, the BBC’s chief content officer, hailed her impact on the British TV industry.
She said in a statement: ‘Beryl Vertue enjoyed an extraordinary career as one of the most influential women in British broadcasting.
‘A patron of British comedy and drama, she was a producer known for her great tenacity and charm – and she literally helped shape the TV industry as we know it today.
‘She was always incredibly kind and generous with her advice. She was an inspiration and a true role model for all women in television.’
And Alistair Petrie, who portrayed Major James Sholto in Sherlock, added: ‘The truly great Beryl Vertue has left us. What a human being. What a creative and extraordinary life force. She will be missed by so many.’
Vertue is survived by her two daughters.
Source: Daily Mail