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The unwitting pioneer of transatlantic format adaptation: Beryl Vertue

Knox, S. ORCID: (2019) The unwitting pioneer of transatlantic format adaptation: Beryl Vertue. Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, 39 (2). pp. 341-365. ISSN 0143-9685

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/01439685.2018.1522790


This article explores the transatlantic work of Beryl Vertue (b. 1931), whose distinguished career includes selling the format for Till Death Us Do Part (BBC1, 1965-1975) and Steptoe and Son (BBC1, 1962-1974) to American television, as well as producing the Upstairs, Downstairs format adaptation Beacon Hill (CBS, 1975) in the USA. I map how her crucial involvement in the genesis of All in the Family (CBS, 1971-1979) and Sanford and Son (NBC, 1972-1977) has been neglected in existing accounts, which have tended to focus on Norman Lear. I contrast these with Vertue’s own recollection, drawing out her role in the creation of these two seminal programmes. I then locate Vertue within a broader transatlantic movement of British television production personnel during the 1970s. I explore Vertue’s decision-making process for Beacon Hill, a programme that deserves a more prominent place in accounts of US television history, not least because of its connections to discourses on quality. I uncover how her creative agency was informed by her difference and productive Otherness whilst also subject to tensions and limitations present within complex industrial structures. Informed by an original in-depth interview with Vertue, the article considers her an unwitting pioneer of transatlantic format adaptation.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Arts and Communication Design > Film, Theatre & Television
ID Code:77128
Uncontrolled Keywords:format adaptation; Beryl Vertue; Till Death Us Do Part; All In The Family; Steptoe And Son; Sanford And Son; Norman Lear; Upstairs, Downstairs; Beacon Hill; CBS; Fred Silverman.
Publisher:Taylor & Francis


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