PRIVE, 17 January 1981
(Translated from the original Dutch)
The English actress Wendy Richard, who we can see currently on the tube as the young salesgirl Miss Brahms in the department store comedy series Are You Being Served?, is much older than her role implies. Wendy is a fanatic about keeping her age one of the best-kept secrets in British show business.
"It has nothing to do with feminine vanity," explains Wendy. "I'm scared that if my age becomes known, I won't be asked to play younger women any more. I don't want to play older women yet. In the UK, it is difficult enough for an actress to find work and if a director or producer were to hear of my age, they would be quick to say 'we don't want her anymore.' They think that one's external appearance is obviously the same as age. I consider that nonsense."
Wendy does everything she can to appear young and attractive; the eyeglasses, which are quite necessary and without which she can hardly see anything, remain almost always in their case. She dons them quickly only if she must read something or needs to identify someone at a distance. She lights up a small corner of the veil around her age when she confesses that she has been playing scenes for easily 20 years.
She received a great deal of recognition when she was picked for the role of Miss Brahms. Wendy got the role since she'd been a friend for 18 years of David Croft's, the writer for the series. She has the greatest admiration for him and says "The department store TV series is by far the best comedy series that has been produced for TV in the UK in recent years. Also, the recording sessions are always very pleasant and we're always laughing." The series, which is now being shown on TROS, is the seventh season filmed since 1972. The madcap experiences of the staff of Grace Brothers in the ladies' lingerie and gentlemen's ready-made apparel departments has caused excitement not only in the UK and Netherlands, but also in Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong.
Despite the reputation that Wendy has acquired, she is not employed as an actress for most of the year. However, she's received solid income from [attending] the festive openings of shops and department stores. She says, "I am very choosy about the roles I accept. Moreover I want to work just in television and just in the light comedy genre, which suits (?) me best. If you want to act in theatre, and you get connected with a certain company, you have to do a lot of traveling. I don't have a car and the British rail system isn't exactly known for its comfort. I live in London and want my work to be outside my front door, so that I can be home in the evenings."
Wendy does not live far from the studio in an apartment, with her close friend, two cats and a goldfish. There is a reason that Wendy does not bind herself to a fixed relationship. Her friend works in the publicity field and must travel often on long business trips. She accompanies him as much as possible, because she's crazy about warm, exotic places, and she prefers to spend her holidays in the Middle East or Africa. "I hate the English winters. I'm more the sunshine type. Ideally," she laughs, "I'll find work in Hawaii from September through May."
Wendy was born in Middlesbrough in the north of England and was well-traveled in her youth. Her parents worked in hotels and moved regularly. As a youngster she wanted to become an archeologist, but then acting in the world of television proved a stronger draw. Wendy confesses that Miss Brahms and she are a lot alike. "But Miss Brahms is just a much more popular type of person than I am myself."
Wendy was formerly married, but filed for divorce in 1974. Since then she lives with her friend. "We both love the stay-at-home life. I watch a lot of television in the evenings. I like watching the news, shows of local interest, comedies, and amusement programs. I also read a lot of newspapers. On Sunday, we read every page of the paper. I really like knowing what's happening in the world.
"Some women have no interest other than their household. I'm not so domestically inclined. I don't like to cook; food only interests me a little. Except for fish from time to time. I've never been a big meat-eater, because I don't find it tasty, so it's been a number of years since I've eaten it."