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This afternoon was the memorial for former BBC Doctors series producer, Bev Dartnall, who died in February. The service was a celebration of Bev’s life, and everyone was encouraged to wear bright colours, rather than black. Peter Lloyd, one of the current series producers of Doctors led the memorial – and it was a fitting tribute that I’m sure Bev would have appreciated. The tone was finely judged – there were tears, laughs, poignant memories, and even some singing.
We were told about how Bev saw herself as ‘just a poor girl from Nechells’; she rose through the BBC ranks from a clerk to drama series producer, and then took voluntary redundancy and went to live her dream, in Spain. Bev was a life-long Birmingham City fan, and woe betide any Doctors’ storyline that might make mention of any other West Midlands’ team!
Mike Hobson, also from Doctors, recounted a number of email exchanges with Bev, that he had recently looked over – many revolved around wrap parties and the need for nuts and nibbles to supplement the drinks! Other themes involved actors, and threatened that if any more actors complained about their dressing rooms, then Doctors would have to storyline a bus crash and kill them all off! There were also threats of dismissal if the costume department ever dressed a character in a Manchester United scarf again!
Writer, Claire Bennett talked about Bev’s directing of a theatre group in an upstairs room, above the Old Joint Stock pub in Birmingham – the success of which caused the pub to install a permanent theatre room there, and close friend Bobbie Chapman read a poem she’d written to Bev, when she moved to Spain. There were also poems read by two of Bev’s god children.
It was a bitter-sweet event, very moving at times, and funny and uplifting at others. The room at Kings Heath Cricket Club was packed with friends and colleagues. The service had been brilliantly organised by Bev’s friends: Bobbie Chapman, Sarah Costigan and Michelle, with valiant technical support from Ian Collins and Neil Roberts.