INSIDE SOAP, February 1994
The Fowlers have started the New Year with the best of intentions. Pauline has finally relented on her cheating husband and let him come back home. But Arthur's still got a lot of ground to recover before Pauline will ever let him share her bed again.
"Well, you've got to make them suffer," laughs Wendy Richard, who plays Walford's reliable Pauline Fowler.
Like a lot of the EastEnd women, Pauline has very strong views on adultery, and she has found it hard to forgive Arthur for his foolish fling with Mrs. Hewitt, but it seems a sip of the Christmas Brandy turned her brain soft!
"Oh, deep down, I think she does still love him," reckons Wendy, but that's not the reason she's let Arthur back.
"She feels ever so sorry for the silly old fool," explains Wendy. "And he was so supportive of her with the loss of Pete. But it will take a bit of time before she'll give in."
And Wendy has the perfect tips for Arthur to win back Pauline's trust. "I think he's got to make her fall in love with him again. He should start courting her like he did years ago," suggests Wendy. "It is Valentine's Day soon, so perhaps he could pull a lovely surprise out of the bag then."
Desite the recent on-screen shenanigans, off screen The Fowlers are just as close as they ever were. "Bill and I are great friends, we get on very well. You know, we've been together for nine years now, so in a way we've had to be close," she says.
It sounds as if Bill Treacher and Wendy Richard are as much of a pair as their characters. "Ooh yes, I suppose it is like having another husband," she says. "I would certainly go to Bill if I needed to have a chat or a quick moan."
And in turn, a lot of the cast will come to Wendy to tell her all their gripes and troubes, rather like the way the residents of Albert Square turn to Pauline in a crisis. "It's quite flattering that they think what I say makes sense!" she says modestly, but in truth the younger cast view Wendy as something of a sage. "I think in the early days people came to me more. Well, Susan Tully and Adam Woodyatt were so young, but people like Judith Jacob would come for a chat too. Adam, Sue and I still have our little chats occasionally," Wendy reveals.
Although Wendy is happily married she has never had any children, however, she's made up for it by 'acquiring' so many of the EastEnders cast. "I suppose I do feel quite maternal towards some of them Todd Carty, who plays Mark, hasn't been with us as long, but we still have a very good relationship. We're quite a little family," says Wendy.
But there's every chance the family could be on the verge of splitting up. If it comes to the crunch, Pauline would rather lose Arthur than her stake in Albert Square. "She was born in that house," points out Wendy, and she's not going to move out in a hurry. "It's a very matriarchal family, and you just have to look at Michelle to see that won't change."
So does this mean Arthur could be crawling away from Albert Square with his tail between his legs? "There have been a lot of rumblings in the Press saying that people are leaving, that I'm leaving. But that's all they are, rumblings, and they've been made up," she reassures. "When you get your script and there are major changes in your storyline, you don't stop and think 'Oh no, I might be written out!' because you know what's in your contract. But that's between me, the producers and my agent!" she says secretively. At the moment, Wendy's not hinting she has any intention of moving on. "But I can't know how I'll feel in two years though," she adds.
"It's always sad when people leave, but it's almost always been their decision," Wendy explains. "Of course if you've made a good friend, then naturally you'll stay in touch."
But for the time being, the Fowlers of Albert Square will be sticking together through thick and thin, just like they've always done. "Oh we know our place," she jokes. "When we first started people said, 'Why don't Pauline and Arthur win the pools?' But the creators, Julia Smith and Tony Holland, who invented us, thought that would never happen, so I guess we're stuck with that house!"
But if Arthur can learn to woo his wife again, Number 45 won't seem quite so drab. "Ooh, it would be nice to see a little lightness in their lives," she dreams. "Wouldn't it?"