She directed several television programmes between 1962 and 1981 and her work includes Out of the Unknown (1965), Late Night Horror (1968), Pere Goriot (1968), Little Women (1970), The Moonstone (1972) and The Omega Factor (1980). Before becoming a director herself, during the 1950s she been a production assistant for BBC television, working on many productions with famed director Rudolph Cartier. She worked on the Quatermass science-fiction serials, as well as the famous 1954 adaptation of George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.
She became the first woman to direct episodes of Doctor Who when she directed The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve (1966). She directed three further Doctor Who serials: Invasion of the Dinosaurs (1974), Pyramids of Mars (1975) and Horror of Fang Rock (1977).
Following her retirement in the 1980s, Russell moved to a cottage on the Yorkshire moors where she lives in relative seclusion. She has been actively involved in charitable work in the area with particular emphasis on felines. She rarely grants interviews.
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