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WRAP > Career > TV > This Interview

Appearance on EastEnders: It's Your Party (2001)

Interviewer:
Jonathan Ross

Broadcast by:
The BBC

"[??]" is used to indicate uncertain transcription phrases.

Ross introduces Wendy, who is the first cast-member to appear on the show:

JR: "We start with someone who's been with the show from the very beginning. For 31 years, Pauline was married to Arthur. Now that's an Albert Square record -- by about 30 years. After he died, her love life has been empty as Barry's CV. But not so daughter Michelle, who could never resist a landlord at the Vic, hopping into bed first with Den, then Grant. Now Sharon's landlord at the Vic of course. That's an episode I'd set the video for. But after sixteen years in the laundry, Pauline's seen it all: from Lofty's Y-fronts to Dr. Legg's latex thong."

Some old clips of Wendy as Pauline, partially accompanied by the softly appropriate tune of " Why Does it Always Rain On Me?" (by the Scottish band Travis, off their recent "The Man Who" album). Scenes include Pauline and Lou arguing, Michelle's pregnancy, Arthur's breakdown and first incarceration, Mark's announcement he has HIV, Arthur's affair, the legendary frying pan scene, Arthur's death, Jeff's proposal, and Martin's trouble.

JR : "Please welcome Wendy Richard!"

(Lots of cheering as Wendy enters. She's dressed elegantly in dark jacket and slacks, with a low-cut fire-engine red blouse. A modest ribbon sits on the front of her left shoulder. Ross and Wendy seat themselves.)

JR : "Some fabulous moments there."

WR : "They were, yeah."

JR : One thing that always surprises me when I get to meet you [??] . . . is you always look fantastic; you always look glamorous; if I may be so bold: you scrub up very nicely!"

WR : "Thank you very much."

JR : "And of course, Pauline, we don't really ever see her getting the chance to make much of an effort. Is it hard ....going in the morning, knowing that you've got to sort of dress down for the rest of the week, to put the sad old cardie back on?"

WR : "I have to say now, Pauline hasn't worn a cardigan for over ten years."

JR : "You know what I mean. When you think of Pauline, you think of her being a bit beaten down by life, and her clothes kind of reflect that. And then you're a vivacious person, and I know obviously you've playing a role, and you've been doing it quite a while now."

WR : "Yes, I'm very happy and very proud to have been in EastEnders for sixteen years -- and I have to say it: wearing that blue nylon overall for sixteen years has paid off, 'cause I got the MBE for it." (pointing to the ribbon of the Order on her left shoulder

JR : "The MBE, ladies and gentlemen. What about that!"

(Much applause and cheers from the audience.)

JR : "Pauline is a formidable matriarch -- and that's quite a couple of big words for me to be saying quite this early in the evening -- really, Pauline hasn't had a lot of luck, has she?"

WR (smiling): "No, no, she hasn't. But she has had her family around her. And before anybody says anything: I still think I have the best sons on the Square. I love my boys; they're marvelous."

JR : "I'm sure we'll be hearing from other Walford mothers later on who may disagree. Every one of them has a strong opinion, I believe. Let me ask you about Pauline's current state of love life now. Since Arthur's gone, she remains very, very dedicated to his memory, and has resisted the many advances that have come her way. I'd quite like to see her settle down with someone else. I'd like see her get some late night spooning action, if you know what I mean."

(Wendy laughs out loud, not replying.)

JR : "I mean that merely in the comforting way. It's nice at night, isn't it, to have a bit of spooning?"

WR (with mock resignation) : "Don't ask me; the only thing I spoon is a cup of cocoa."

JR : "Let me ask you, if I may, about being there as much as you have. Sixteen years; you signed onto the job over sixteen years now. Almost as much time in Pauline's house, the set there, as you have in your own."

WR : "I've actually lived in Pauline's house longer than my own. And . . . my house is rather untidy -- as I've been told by some of my fellow artistes who have called 'round -- but at least in Pauline's house, I know where to find things. We've got wonderful props boys; we couldn't do the show without them, and if I ask them for something, and it's been put in a particular place, I know it will be there, it will stay there, it'll always be there when I want it. Unfortunately, it is not the same at home."

JR : "I've heard that you don't like people to tamper with your fruit bowl."

WR : "No, I don't! No. I don't at all. It's become a bit of joke, really, 'cause you can see some of the cameramen, and they want to line up shots across the table, and one of them, Dave -- who is possibly the nicest man -- you can see him eyeing the fruit bowl., and I just go..." (wagging her finger in a discouraging way) ". . . 'don't even think about it.' You know, that stays there. And sometimes they move it to the side; as long as it's there in the room,. I've got a thing about it; I don't care, it's got to be there."

JR : "Maybe Pauline could spoon with Dave...."

(It takes about two seconds for Ross's words to register with Wendy and then she laughs)

JR : ". . . And then he could have as much fruit bowl action as he wants. Wendy, you're going to stay with us a few minutes here, I hope. I'm going to bring a few more folks out, because there's so many wonderful characters who have filled the Fowler household over the years with drama, lots of excitement, with real family action, so I want you now to please welcome, if you will, out here: Dot, Martin, and Mark: better know as June Brown, James Alexandrou, and of course Todd Carty."

(Enter the other three actors, all dressed in black formal wear).

JR (to Carty) : "What's it like working with Wendy as a screen mum? Because you guys have been together for many, many years. You must have a solid relationship."

TC : "Me and Wendy do arm wrestle at lunch time. It brings tears to your eyes."

JR : "That's the kind of action we'll be seeing in the new Friday edition of ...."

(Ross turns to Brown, discussing with her the character of Dot Cotton)

JR (to Brown) : "What's it like working with Wendy? Are you allowed to move the fruit bowl?"

JB : "No, I'm not."

WR : "Oh! We were on the set one day, and it was when Dot was staying in Pauline's house, and the cameraman did say, 'Can I move that fruit bowl?' and June's sitting there, lighting up a fag: 'yes, get rid of that fruit bowl', and I told her, 'Listen! You're very lucky I've taken you in under my roof', I said. 'You've been a . . . nuisance ever since you arrived! Now leave that fruit bowl where it is!' "

JB : "She was livid with me! 'Get rid of the fruit bowl', I said."

JR (to Carty) : "I see you've obviously had a run-in with it; you're sitting there looking very nervous."

TC : "Well, actually, Wendy was on one of her leaves . . . [??] . . . The prop guys were around, and I say 'can I move it now?', they say 'Do what you like, she's away, she'll be back in three weeks time.' So they juggle with it; give it a good kick . . ."

WR : "One time when I was away, and Nick Cotton was in the house, I watched the program when it went out, and there was Todd in the scene . . . It was John Altman. And John Altman came in from the kitchen, and he put a frying pan down on my table, and I was sitting at home watching this, and I went daft. And apparently Todd turned 'round to the director; he said 'you wouldn't have done that if she'd been here.' "

JR : "See, we had no idea. We thought you walked out, read your lines, and went home. It's another world, isn't it?"

WR : "Yes."

(Ross than talks to Alexandrou briefly about his role on the show as Martin Fowler. After that, he transitions to another group of actors led by Adam Woodyatt)


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