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Frequently Asked Questions

The following are a few of the questions I hear most often concerning Ms. Richard. A couple of others I've added to present information in the Socratic manner which didn't seem to fit comfortably elsewhere in this suite.

Contents:

1. Did Ms. Richard ever really work in a department store?

2. Did she really talk like Pauline?

3. Are there Internet or print sources about Wendy and her shows?

4. What year, exactly, was she born?

5. What happened to her hand?

6. Is it true that Ms. Richard was a bit near-sighted?

7. Was her 1962 chart hit the only song she's done?

8. The location for Ms. Richard's 1991 series Grace and Favour looked gorgeous. Where is that manor?

9. Will Shirley the dog appear on "EastEnders"?

10. Is there really an "adult" picture of Ms. Richard out on the Internet?

11. There's something in common about Wendy's most popular characters over the years . . .

 


1. Did Ms. Richard ever really work in a department store?

As a matter of fact, she did find employment for a while in some of the "top London stores" after finishing with school at age 15. According to interviews on the BBC Knowledge web site and in the May, 1993 Radio Times, Wendy was a junior in the fashion department at Fortnum and Mason on the first floor, earning £3/8s/4d (three pounds, eight shillings, and four pence) per week. In her own words: "You were the lowest of the low in there. You had to stand in attendance to the proper assistants that served some of the wealthiest people in the country. It gives me great pleasure to go and shop in there now, because I never thought I'd be able to shop at Fortnum and Mason's".

Needless to say, her work experience as a shop assistant proved useful when she landed the role of junior sales assistant Miss Brahms in Are You Being Served?.

Back to the ToC. . .


2. Did she really talk like Pauline?

Although Ms. Richard hailed originally from the far north of England, she lived for eight years during her youth in and about London, where she picked up her ear for the language, as well as the mannerisms which served her so well on screen.

Back to the ToC. . .


3. Are there Internet or print sources about Wendy and her shows?

The best Internet source? Ah-hmm. Actually . . . right here. But you probably mean elsewhere . . . Her name comes up on occasion in the Usenet groups associated with the British television productions she's participated in. Your best bets are:

But -- truth told -- pickings are pretty slim on the newsgroups and tend to take the form of gratuitous (at best) or nasty (at worst) gripes about Pauline's cardigan, or voice, or hair, or -- well, you get the idea . . .

Also, general searches using Internet-wide engines, such as Google, tend to provide very good results (though anything of interest found in that manner will almost certainly already be documented here at the WRAP). If you do search on your own for Wendy articles, remember that her last name is very often misspelled (even by the BBC . . .); search for both "Wendy Richard" and "Wendy Richards".

If you're interested in further reading about Ms. Richard, or other aspects of British screen and stage, you might want to take a look at this site's bibliography. Though please note: I was told by Ms. Richard that the Rigelsford "Are You Being Served" book is "not factually correct" and that she was "writing to the publishers" in regard to that.

Back to the ToC. . .


4. What year, exactly, was she born?

References vary about this, anywhere from 1943 through 1948. I tend to think the most accurate date is probably July of 1943, based on a reading of Wendy's autobiography . . .

Back to the ToC. . .


5. I noticed an episode of EastEnders a few years ago around Christmas time when Wendy seemed to subtly favor her right hand. Was I imagining things?

No. Wendy injured the fingers of her dominant hand in an accident in late 1993. She continued to shoot episodes of EastEnders, but kept the bandaged appendage in her pocket or behind her back whenever she was on camera. It is probably most evident in one episode's opening scene where Pauline is flipping through a photo album rather awkwardly, using only her left hand.

Back to the ToC. . .


6. Is it true Ms. Richard was a bit near-sighted?

This is a given, considering various supporting evidence over the years. She was quoted in Rigelsford's Are You Being Served? book as saying "I can only see two feet in front of me. If they move a prop without telling me, I fall over it!". In the A Question of EastEnders game show in 2000, she commented that she wished she'd "brought my glasses" to see a picture displayed some distance away on a screen. A 1962 magazine interview mentions her wearing "fashionably styled glasses". More intriguing: there have been some rarely-seen photos shot by British newspapers such as the Mirror and the Telegraph which clearly showed Ms. Richard wearing glasses.

In January 1975, a magazine interview addressed the subject in some detail:

She wears glasses off-screen. "I'm as blind as a bat," she confessed, "but I don't wear them when I'm working because they hide too much of my face. You want your face seen if you're on telly."
Wendy's had some embarrassing moments without glasses. When filming in London's Regent Street, she grabbed a Chinese man and pushed him on to a double-decker bus instead of actor Kenneth Cope. "He ran off screaming," she said. "I felt such a fool."
(Interview in Titbits, January 1975)

And to top it off, Wendy left no doubt herself as she remarked on the matter in her autobiography:

"You may have noticed that I was always a lot slower than Mollie coming down the stairs at the beginning of the show [Are You Being Served?]. It was because of my poor eyesight and those high heels! I was terrified of tumbling down them."
("My Life Story", Chapter 10)

Back to the ToC. . .


7. Was her 1962 chart hit the only song she recorded?

No. In 1986, Ms. Richard teamed up with actor/singer Mike Berry (yes, Mr. Spooner from AYBS?) and re-recorded her 1962 chart-topper Come Outside (as well as a flip-side track called Give It A Try). In her words, these were "my only two sorties into the pop world."

But then there have been some rumors:

It has been said that Wendy had some spoken dialogue in a song Family Life that was recorded in 1978 by the rock group Sham69 on their album Tell Us the Truth. This seems to have originated on the (now-defunct) Rough Guide to Rock's web page on Sham69 and was subsequently picked up by another site (also inactive now). In both cases, the claim is that it is Wendy who provides the voice of the nagging mum that one can hear at the start of the cut.

When I asked Ms. Richard about this in 1998, her reply was as above, which I take to mean it was not her voice on that album. To add to that, I shortly thereafter had the opportunity to hear the cut (track #7 on a CD re-release from Dojo Records--3000-2), and the voice really is distinctively different from Ms. Richard's. . .
Status:
Disproved
On the Tapestry website, the following appears:

"Originally known as Danny Cannon and The Ramrods, Herbie's People came from Bilston, near Wolverhampton in the West Midlands. The band were managed by Bill Bates, whose brother in law was Ken Lewis of The Ivy League. Bill co-wrote Sweet And Tender Romance for P.J. Proby as well as Will I What?, the novelty hit by Wendy Richard."

I checked with Ivor Trueman, webmaster of the site, and he indicated that he heard the above from one of the band members, and has no additional information about the work at this time . . .

In my 25 July 2000 conversation with Wendy, this subject came up, and she reiterated that her Come Outside pieces were the only songs she'd ever done. In her book, she noted that Mike Sarne did a piece called "Will I What?" Perhaps someone thought of Sarne's song and assumed Wendy did that with him also.
Status:
Disproved
On the Gargoyles page of the Perfumery website may be seen the following tidbit under the Personality / Novelty / Actors subheading:

Wendy Richard
45s:
1.We had a dream/Keep 'em looking around - 1963 - (Wendy Richard & Diana Berry)


The webmaster of the Perfumery confirmed that this was indeed a reference to our Ms. Richard, but he was unable to provide any additional info nor say where he'd gotten this data . . .

I asked Wendy about this, but must have misunderstood her answer to be she didn't do this piece; however, her book does indeed mention recording this song with Diana Berry!
Status:
True
Finally, it's been said that when Wendy and Mike Sarne recorded their 1962 hit, Sarne had Wendy cut one or more other songs at the same time, but that these were never produced or released. I don't recall where I heard this.

I asked Wendy specifically whether this was true (in 2000), and her answer was a clear "No" with a shake of her head. 'Nuff said?
Status:
Disproved

But, wait -- it doesn't quite end there!

In 1995, Wendy, as Pauline Fowler in EastEnders, had a story line which involved Pauline's flirtation with past-his-prime rock singer Danny Taurus. In one episode, Danny and Pauline get kind of sloshed at the Queen Vic pub and sing together a few bars of the oldie pop tune To Know Him Is to Love Him. True, this is Wendy's "stage" singing voice, but it was kind of neat to hear, all the same.

Back to the ToC. . .


8. The location for Ms. Richard's 1991 series Grace and Favour looked gorgeous. Where is that manor?

The Elizabethan (or Jacobean, depending on who you ask) style manor where the external scenes of G&F were shot is Chavenage House, which is located about 3.5 km NW of the town of Tetbury, in southern Gloucestershire. I am told that the manor is open on a semi-regular basis to the public, and that it has been used as the backdrop for many other television/movie productions, as well.

Back to the ToC. . .


9. Will Shirley the dog appear on "EastEnders"?

This question seemed to come up every now and then on the Internet. It was generally known that Wendy's cairn terrier, Shirley, appeared in a cameo role in Grace and Favour, and that for years accompanied Wendy to work on the set of EastEnders. The natural question was whether Shirley would ever have a part in that show as well.

In January or February, 2000, there was a paragraph in the Charlie Catchpole TV column in The Mirror quoting Ms. Richard as saying that ". . . she thought there was room for a couple more dogs in Albert Square."

Your webmeister asked Wendy about the idea, and according to her having little Shirley on the show had actually been considered. She indicated that the idea was finally dropped, since it would be difficult to predict or control how Shirley and the other pets already on the show would get along.

Back to the ToC. . .


10. Is there really an "adult" picture of Ms. Richard out on the Internet?

No. Wendy made it quite clear, both in private and in public, that she never, ever did any photos in a state of complete undress.

The image in question is probably a certain black and white photo from the waist up of a young woman, sans brassière, with a scarf tied in her hair, looking over her left shoulder (here is a safely cropped G-rated version of the picture). Your webmeister was first made aware of the photo in early 1998; since then, routine web searches seem to indicate that quite a few adult sites have copied the shot. Who first put the picture out on the 'Net, why in the world it was identified as Wendy Richard, and who the woman really is, remains a mystery. It is not Ms. Richard.

Back to the ToC. . .


11. There's something in common about Wendy's most popular characters over the years . . .

Yes indeed, there is -- and it's not the Cockney accent. On Are You Being Served?, Grace and Favour, and EastEnders, you might notice that both the characters Shirley Brahms and Pauline Fowler habitually wore lapel pins or brooches. This is not coincidence, but was rather a modest personal fashion statement by Wendy herself. In fact, when appearing for interviews or other non-fiction shows, she herself more likely than not would also be wearing an attractive brooch or pin. Sometimes the pin had a special meaning, as for example in 2000 when Pauline wore the golden heart of the real-world Variety Club charity, an organization whose works Wendy herself supported for many years.  Wendy would also occasionally wear brooches on-screen which had been sent to her by fans.

Back to the ToC. . .


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