Listening as we speak to Beryl Vertue on Desert Island Discs. I knew the name and when they started talking I realised I’ve seen her on the credits of loads of sitcoms, including Black Books, Steptoe and Son and Men Behaving Badly. She seems to have had an interesting career, starting as a secretary (basically, making tea for Spike Milligan) * and spanning the decades between ‘traditional’ sitcom to more modern and anarchic stuff. I like Desert Island Discs, though it often transpires that the most interesting people have awful taste in music, choosing lots of opera or stuff from musicals. I really can’t understand how anyone can listen to opera, let alone pay hundreds of pounds to go and see one. Still, de gustibus and all that… Anyway, opera music notwithstanding, Beryl did a good thing: she altered Terry Nation’s contract so that he kept all the money made from his creation of the Daleks.
I have never owned a Dalek as I think they were not widely available when I was a child; not that I think I’d have gone for one as they scared the c**p out of me, though not so much as the Cybermen who actually did send me skulking behind the sofa (when I grew up I couldn’t believe everyone else had done this too). I’d probably have gone for a Tardis or something – or a scarf like Tom Baker’s. Come to think of it, I did have such a scarf in the era of maxi-scarves, though the one I had was brown and not multi-coloured. Still I can go and visit the Daleks any time I like as I have a free pass to Skaro. Just don’t ask me how I got it…
*This reminds me of Wendy Cope’s book, Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis.