Influential TV producer Beryl Vertue dies aged 90 | TV

The TV producer Beryl Vertue, whose company created the hit series Men Behaving Badly and Sherlock, has died aged 90.

The influential media executive “passed away peacefully” on Saturday surrounded by family.

Her daughters Sue and Debbie said: “It’s with the heaviest of hearts that we have to share the sad news that mum passed away peacefully last night. It was n’t Covid, it was just her nearly 91-year-old body of her saying enough is enough.

“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 de ella 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 commonsense 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.”

Writer and actor Mark Gatiss was among those to pay tribute to Vertue. He co-created the hit TV shows Sherlock and Dracula, which were produced by Vertue’s production company Hartswood Films. He said: “From Goons to Rag & Bone Men, Daleks to Consulting Detectives. She saw it all and did most of it. But foremost she – a wonderful woman, a loyal colleague and an absolute scream. She was loved.”

During her career, Vertue progressed from secretary to talent agent before establishing herself as an award-winning producer of TV and film.

Her career started when she was asked by the Steptoe And Son writers Ray Galton and Alan Simpson to type up their scripts. When the pair set up Associated London Scripts (ALS) with Spike Milligan and Eric Sykes, she began finding work and negotiating fees for figures including sitcom scriptwriter Johnny Speight and actor-comedian Frankie Howerd, in effect becoming her 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, the 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, which would go on to produce shows including the hit 1990s sitcom Men Behaving Badly starring Martin Clunes, Neil Morrissey, Leslie Ash and Caroline Quentin.

Hartswood was also behind the popular and critically acclaimed drama Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch, based on the books of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Vertue was made an OBE in 2000 and a CBE in 2016 for her work in the TV industry.

Beryl Vertue being made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) by the Prince of Wales in 2016. Photograph: Jonathan Brady/PA

In 2004, she received Bafta’s Alan Clarke award for outstanding creative contribution to television and in March 2012, she was honored with a lifetime achievement gong at the Royal Television Society program awards.

In 2016, Cumberbatch presented her with a lifetime achievement prize at the Women in Film And TV awards.

Her daughter Sue followed her into the TV industry as a producer. She is married to the writer and producer Steven Moffat, the former showrunner of Doctor Who and co-creator of Sherlock.

Vertue discussed her career with host Kirsty Young while a guest on the BBC Radio 4 program Desert Island Discs in 2013. Her musical choices included Sir Elton John’s cover of Pinball Wizard, Morning Of My Life by the Bee Gees and SHERlocked from the Sherlock TV series soundtrack.

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