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WRAP > Career > Radio > Interview

Appearance on Steve Wright In The Afternoon (2000)

Interviewer:
Steve Wright
A female member of Wright's team asks a couple of questions, too. I'm not sure of her identity, but I'd guess she's Janey Lee Grace.

Broadcast by:
BBC Radio 2
Probably from BBC Broadcast House, London

"[??]" is used to indicate uncertain transcription phrases. Additional info may also appear in brackets.

The transcript below actually begins a few moments after Wendy has been introduced.

SW : ". . . Now here's something I nearly said. I nearly said 'Wendy Richards'. Wendy, that's incorrect, isn't it?"

WR : "It is, indeed."

SW : "Now, because Cliff . . . you know, he hates it when people call him 'Cliff Richards', and older people always call Cliff 'Cliff Richards', don't they? And why do they call you 'Wendy Richards'? You're 'Wendy Richard'; why do they do that Wendy, why?"

WR : "I don't know; perhaps it could be sloppy speech, I suppose. I really don't know."

SW : "So listen, this is a book of your life story, that you've done here . . ."

WR : "Yeah . . ."

SW : "When did your professional life start, because we know you, of course, from EastEnders and so many other things. When was the first time you acted professionally?"

WR : "Well, this is my fortieth year in the business, and I was very young when I started. But my first television appearance was with Sammy Davis Jr . . ."

SW : "No!"

WR : "It was, indeed."

SW : "With Sammy Davis . . . In what way . . .?"

WR : "Well, Sammy was over here doing a one-man show at the Prince of Wales, and while he was here, ATV persuaded him to do a TV show, and it had all these girls decorating the show. And I was one of the youngest, and then there was models like Patsie [??] . . . , like, really glamorous girls, and there was another girl on the show, a red-head, who turned out to be Mandy Rice-Davis."
[Webmaster's note: Rice-Davis was a notorious figure in the Profumo showgirl scandal of 1963 and coiner of the phrase "well, he would (say that), wouldn't he?"]

SW : "My goodness, really?"

WR : "Yeah."

SW : "Don't go there . . . And you're the voice on that Mike Sarne record . . ."

WR : "Yes."

SW : "Come Outside . . ."

WR : "Fifteen quid I got for that . . . Sold half a million copies . . ."

SW : "That was a huge hit, wasn't it? What year was that?"

WR : "It was '62 or '63, I think . . ."

SW : "The money just came through last week . . . [??]. . . How did you get involved then in the TV series that we've known you in for all these years? I mean, how did all of that happen?"

WR : "What, the Are You Being Served??"

SW : "Yes, Are You Being Served?, in particular."

WR : "Well, early in my career, I started to work with David Croft, who is the most brilliant writer and producer of light entertainment. And I first worked with David on a series called Hugh and I with Terry Scott and Hugh Lloyd. And then I did Up, Pompeii for David, in the briefest costume I've ever worn. It was only stuck on with toupee tape, all over my bosom. And then . . . I started to do his Dad's Army, and then we did the pilot of Comedy Playhouse of Are You Being Served?, and after that we were up and running."

SW : "When was the point you ceased to be the dizzy blonde? Because you did really play, I mean, we've all seen you in movies where you played a dizzy blonde, didn't you?"

WR : "Yes, I quite enjoyed it . . . you can earn a very good living playing a dizzy blonde."

SW : "Now we know you as a . . . you're quite serious as Pauline, aren't you?"

WR : "Oh yes. It upsets me when she gets a slagging off in the paper for being miserable and everything, because she's not miserable all the time. I mean, the poor woman has had every problem that can be thrown at you in life, I think. Also, I'd like to say right now that she has not worn a cardigan for about ten years . . ."

(laughter)

WR : "But . . . no, I'm very fond of Pauline; both as a character and for the fact that she has given me a very pleasant life-style."

SW : "Yeah. Let me just take a break, Wendy. And Wendy Richard is -- and here is the EastEnders theme now -- and Wendy Richard will be right back in just a moment . . ."

(musical interlude)

SW : ". . . Wendy Richard returns with us. Some things that you didn't know about . . . You all right, Wendy?"

(laughter)

WR (with mirth in her voice): "Yes, fine!"

SW : "You like all this, don't you?"

WR : "Love it!"

SW : "You get applause in here. You see, that's what you don't get working on dramas."

WR : "No, you don't . . ."

SW : "You don't get a round of applause . . ."

WR : "[??] . . . because when we first started and you might have an amusing line or something, you'd find yourself pausing, waiting for the laugh and you realize you don't do that anymore."

SW : "I thought it was hearing the EastEnders theme that set you off. . . Now, more seriously, in 1996, you had breast cancer, didn't you?"

WR : "That's right, yeah . . ."

SW : "So... take us from beginning to end, because you're okay now, you're cured."

WR : "Yes, touch wood. It would be five years next February [2001]."

SW : "When did you discover it, and what went through your mind?"

WR : "I think it was a very cold, frosty morning. And I went and had a sun cabinet -- you know, one of those ones that you stand up in -- I thought I'd get some warmth into my back and everything, came home to have a shower, and suddenly there's this great lump at the top of my left breast. And I knew instinctively what it was . . . and I was so angry, and I thought 'how could . . . dare God do this to me?' and then when you've calmed down, you realize 'well, why not?', you know. It's obviously sent to you for a reason. But in my heart of hearts I knew I wasn't going to die. So, anyway, I moved like lightening about getting body scans and all tests and everything done, and I met this wonderful surgeon, Mr. Gilmore, . . . [??] . . . and I believed him, and thank God he's been proved right. I was on the operating table within about eight days after having found the lump -- that's how fast I moved. And I had to go and film in Jersey a Pauline and Willy storyline [for EastEnders], because I knew I couldn't let them down, because it cost so much to set up, you know, this location filming and everything. And then when I came back, I had seven weeks of intensive radiotherapy . . ."

SW : "Well, you know, that pales into insignificance -- don't you think? -- the filming, I mean."

WR : "Well, no, I have a tremendous loyalty to EastEnders; and you can't let people down. I mean the BBC were very good. They looked after me very well; I had a nice caravan to lie down in at lunchtime and everything."

SW : "Nice caravan . . ."

WR : "Yes."

JLG? : "Wendy, are you one of these people -- you say that sometimes, that you think that illness is sent to you for a reason -- are you one of these women who has actually used the experience of cancer to almost re-assess their life, and come to new decisions?"

WR : "Yes, yes, and I've tried to help other people in the same situation. I call it 'breast cancer: being a member of a club that no one wants to join'. . . . [??] . . . But I have to tell you now, boys, you can get breast cancer too."

SW : "Is that right?"

WR : "Yes, so don't -- well, you've got breasts, haven't you?"

SW : "Yeah, you just simply don't often hear of men with breast cancer . . ."

WR : "Well, you still should check yourself ."

SW : "Yeah, that's good advice. You're a bit of a shopaholic, aren't you?"

WR : "Oh, yes. You know, for the last few days, I've been working so hard on EastEnders, I've not really shopped for ages. And I'm sure they must think my credit cards have been stolen because I haven't used them. It's terrible . . ."

JLG? : "Where do you go? What kind of shops do you like?"

WR : "Well, I walk to Selfridge's; that's my corner shop, and they have some very nice clothes there . . ."

JLG? : "Do they all know you in there?"

WR : "Yes, I'm very popular in the Food department."

(laughter)

WR : "And, um, I don't go over to Knightsbridge very much; sometimes I hit Bond Street, but you can do quite a bit of damage to a credit card in Selfridge's."

SW : "[??] . . . Bond Street."

WR : "Yeah, yeah."

SW : "Do you ever get fed-up when people must occasionally say 'Hello, Pauline' and you think 'Oh no, I'm Wendy'. . ."

WR : "Well, most people do. Most of my fan mail and everything comes addressed to Wendy Richard; the occasional person will call you Pauline. Usually builders, and then they shout out 'Where's Arthur?', and seem to find it absolutely hysterical. I think they can't watch the program: he's been dead for four years. Drives you daft . . ."

(interlude?)

SW : "What about movies? Because I used to see you in movies all the time. And now of course you're in EastEnders. I guess you don't make movies anymore. You were in a lot of those [??] Elstree [??]"

WR : "In the '60s and the '70s."

SW : "Yeah, and they're cult movies now, all of those movies are cult movies. No desire to do movies?"

WR : "Well, I would like to, but as I've said -- I think it was in a newspaper interview, I can't remember now -- I'm actually saving up two-pound coins toward a facelift; I've got about 40 quid now. And I'm going to carry on saving, and I think when I've had my facelift, then I might try for the movies again."

SW : "In other words, you're saying that you think you look older, but -- we occasionally say this to smooze up to guests, but we're not saying it this time -- you don't really look any different. And in fact, they [facelifts] make you look older, don't they? Because here you are, you look about, what, about 29? "

WR : "Awww, . . . wonderful . . ."

SW : "About 29 . . . 28, maybe . . . But they do, they make you look [??] old . . . [??] . . . "

WR : "[??] . . . the makeup girls at the BBC . . ."

SW : But it must be terrible, you know, sitting there, having the years put on."

WR : "The nice thing is that when one does get the chance to do a game show or a chat show or review on TV, and you've sort of gussied up a little bit and everything, it gives the public to chance to see how you really look . . . and then hopefully they can distinguish the fact that you are acting when you're Pauline. And when you're doing Blankety-Blank or something -- sorry, it's not on the BBC anymore [??]. . ."

SW : "It's okay . . ."

WR : "When you're doing a game show or something, you know, that's you."

SW : "Yeah. What do you think of the other soaps, by the way? I mean, do you not sit there down at Elstree, watching the other soaps, and thinking, 'oh, they've got a good story on?' "

WR : "We don't get a lot of time to watch TV at work. I have to be honest with you: I mean, years ago I was addicted to Corrie; I really loved it, it was a brilliant show, and still is, but at home, we don't actually watch a lot of TV. Of course, my favorite soap is The Archers."

SW : "Is it?"

WR : "I have life membership to The Archers' Addicts Fan Club."

SW (laughing): "I didn't know that about you, either . . ."

WR : "Me and the Queen Mother. She likes The Archers."

SW : "You know who else? I think John Peel likes that as well."

WR : "Does he?"

SW : "Yeah, John Peel over at Radio One, yeah, every single night, he listens to The Archers in his little office there, bless him. . . "

WR : "You see, I can't listen to it every day; Sunday morning, that hour and a quarter is mine. Nobody speaks to me, and if the phone rings or the doorbell goes, I know it couldn't possibly be for me; that is my time. I've actually got The Archers theme on my mobile phone."

(laughter)

WR : "I was telling Angela Rippen this, 'cause she's an Archers fan, so she's going off to try to get it on her phone, so you must tell John Peel."

SW : "Yeah, okay, you can actually make your own little tune, you can . . . but coming back to The Archers: John Peel actually appeared in The Archers, didn't he, as himself? You could go [??] as Wendy Richard."

WR : "That's what I said! I've told Vanessa Whitburn: I've said I'm always available; I've got the [??] coat, the wellies, and everything . . . and who do you think they've had? Princess Margaret in it, Dame Judy Dench, and I think Terry Wogan's been in it as well, I'm not sure, I think he might have been."

SW : "Oh, yes, I'm sorry about that. [??] . . . Now talk about the book . . . [??]"

WR : "I mention The Archers in my book."

SW : "[??] . . . Now is there any really good sex or scandal in the earlier part of the book, or even, you know, in the later part of the book? Sex or scandal in there, Wendy?"

WR (dryly): "No."

SW : "No? I think that's the wrong answer . . . [??]"

(laughter)

WR : "There is some scandal . . ."

SW : "There is some discussion of previous husbands, isn't there?"

WR : "Yes, yes."

SW : "So there's all that . . ."

WR : "Yes."

SW : "Okay. Anybody going to be upset? Anybody going to be dreadfully upset?"

WR : "Well, my last ex-husband is like an albatross around my neck. He's already kicked off in the Sunday rags; yes, he won't be too pleased. But it's all checked for libel; there's only the truth in there."

SW : "Okay. Wendy, very nice to see you again. Thanks very much for coming in."


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