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TheWrite Stuff

When Terry Nation created the Daleks in 1963 he belonged to Associated London Scripts, the agency managed by Beryl Vertue. This turned out to be just the beginning of Beryl’s involvement with Doctor Who…

Beryl Vertue CBE is no mere figurehead at Hartswood Films, the independent production company she launched in the early 1980s. The walls of her office are adorned with awards and framed photographs of such diverse clients as George Cole, Jack Lemmon and Roger Daltrey. Outside there is a staff of eight, one of whom holds Beryl’s calls when Doctor Who Magazine arrives. To prevent any further distraction during our interview, Beryl angles her computer monitor towards the wall. There’s no stopping the constant flow of emails, however, and our conversation is punctuated by pinging noises from her computer. “I’ll look at them later”, she says. Exactly when she’ll do that isn’t clear – she will go straight from our interview to another meeting, at a time when most people would be thinking about knocking off for lunch. There’s no point even asking about retirement. “I love to work”, she says brightly. Beryl is one of the last links to an era of classic television comedy. As the matriarch of Associated London Scripts in the 1950s and 60s she marshalled such formidable talents as Eric Sykes, Spike Milligan, Tony Hancock, Ray Galton and Alan Simpson (the creators of Steptoe and Son), and Johnny Speight (the creator of Till Death Us Do Part). Beryl’s clients also included Terry Nation. This former furniture salesman from Cardiff made the transition from failed stand-up comic to successful gag writer, eventually becoming one of British television’s most prolific dramatists. Along the way, he created the Daleks and effectively launched Doctor Who. Beryl underwent a similarly impressive reinvention, starting out as a secretary before becoming one of the most powerful agents in the country. She then learned how to become a film producer and sold ALS for a small fortune.

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About Doctor Who Magazine

DWM 522 throws new light on Doctor Who's success in its early years, with exclusive interviews with two people who knew Terry Nation (the creator of the Daleks) well: his agent Beryl Vertue and his writing colleague Brad Ashton. Doctor Who Magazine 522 also includes: • New research which reveals the Dalek toys which never made it to the shelves • The story of the Daleks in print in the 1960s • Previously unseen interviews with Peter Capaldi • Comedian – and now Doctor Who writer – Susan Calman discusses her love for the Time Lord • Emma Freud, the organiser of Comic Relief's unprecedented Breakfast with the Doctors is interviewed • Christel Dee’s guide to cosplaying Ace • Part four of The Phantom Piper, a new comic strip adventure featuring the Doctor and Bill • The Fact of Fiction explores the 2006 Tenth Doctor story New Earth • Previews, book and audio reviews, news, The Blogs of Doom, prize-winning competitions and much, much more!
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