Julie Burnell, the beloved television producer and head of drama at ITV Studios, passed away this fall, leaving behind a tremendous legacy. Burnell was a driving force behind many of ITV’s most popular shows over her 30+ year career, but perhaps most iconic was her role as lead executive producer on Vera starting with its inaugural season. Burnell’s profound influence shaped the development of Vera, helping it become the enduring hit that viewers across generations have come to cherish. Her leadership, creativity, and commitment to excellence were instrumental in crafting Vera’s gripping stories, regional authenticity, and unforgettable central character. This obituary pays tribute to Burnell’s talents and her paramount role in British television entertainment. She set a high bar for quality storytelling that continues inspiring the industry.
Julie Burnell obituary, Acclaimed TV Producer and Pillar of ITV’s ‘Vera’, Dies at 66
The television community is mourning the loss of Julie Burnell, an esteemed producer and executive who helped shape some of ITV’s most beloved programs. Burnell passed away in the fall of 2023 at the age of 66.
Burnell had a remarkable career in British television spanning over three decades. She first joined ITV Studios in the 1990s and quickly rose through the ranks due to her keen eye for talent and innate ability to craft compelling stories. Burnell was appointed head of drama at ITV Studios in 2010, putting her in charge of overseeing the development and production of many high-profile series.
Among Burnell’s credits at ITV were respected shows like “Lewis,” “Mr. Selfridge,” and “Agatha Christie’s Poirot.” However, her involvement in “Vera” truly stands out. As lead executive producer from its very first season, Burnell’s influence shaped the program in many ways. Her diligence and insight were integral to “Vera’s” continued success and longevity over the years.
Burnell’s meticulous nature and high standards contributed to the overall excelling quality and gripping narratives that viewers came to expect from “Vera.” The characters, pacing, and regional setting that defined the show had Burnell’s fingerprints all over them. She had a gift for spotting and cultivating talent, whether it be promising up-and-coming writers or veteran actors like series star Brenda Blethyn.
Above all, Burnell cared deeply about the Vera series and ensured each episode met her own measures of integrity before reaching audiences. Her personal investment in the show shone through in the final product, making the news of her passing a particularly tough loss for her ITV colleagues and Vera’s loyal fans.
Burnell’s enduring legacy in television, marked by her superb stewardship and passion for the craft, will continue inspiring many in the industry. The tributes and commemorations honoring her career, including the memorial card displayed at the end of Vera’s recent season, speak volumes about the extraordinary impact Julie Burnell had through her life’s work in British television entertainment. She will be dearly missed.