This game- and variety-show was a Yorkshire Television production for ITV and ran for ten years between 1978 and 1988. There are a couple of decent general descriptions of the show itself already: one at UK Gameshows.com; another at TV Cream. Your webmeister gathers that in regard to watching 3-2-1, one either loved or hated the show; there doesn't seem to be too much middle ground about the matter.
Wendy appeared on an episode broadcast on 5 Mar 83, when the show's . . .mascot, I suppose -- it appears to have been a large animated garbage can . . .went "on a sightseeing tour of London." Delightfully, this capital-city-themed excursion included two celebrity guests whose Are You Being Served? characters were quintessential east-Londoners: Wendy, and Arthur English (Mr. Harmon of Maintenance).
A production of ITV (though the concept originated on Canadian television), All Star Mr & Mrs is rather like The Newlywed Game, but for couples married or partnered for a long time. On 12 Apr 08 Wendy and her partner John Burns (they weren't to marry until October of that year) appeared on the very first show of the new version. Joining two other celebrity husband-and-wife teams, they answered questions about one another, with the goal of winning prize money for a charity of their choice. For more general info about the series itself, Wikipedia has a fairly good write-up.
A comedy set amid the trappings of a High Street department store, Are You Being Served? was the series that really made the world first sit up and take notice of the lovely Wendy Richard, who played lady's junior sales clerk Shirley Brahms between 1971 and 1985. Is the character just a bit of eye candy for the male viewers? Hardly, noted Ms. Richard in the Slide book interview: "Really, Miss Brahms isn't a bimbo; she's the most sensible of the whole lot."
For more than I could possibly tell you about every aspect of the show, please see "AYBS Central". The BBC's "Cult" TV page for 1973 has a short write-up and good picture.
Which episode did Wendy like most? In 2002 for an interview with Yours magazine: " 'My favourite episode was when Molly was supposed to have over-indulged on German wine,' chortles Wendy. 'During that scene I couldn't get anything right because I could hardly keep a straight face! I blame Molly for being so fantastic. She's such a good sport. I admire her so much.' "
Note that there was a sequel series Grace and Favour made that reunited much of the original cast for new adventures. In March of 1992, a Best of AYBS special was shot (in the US, interestingly enough); however, that presented new material only by John Inman -- Wendy and the others were seen only during short clips from the original series (so I, for one, don't count that as part of her filmography).
Re-runs of the show are common fare on US PBS stations, apparently because it is one of the less-expensive British imports. In the UK, BBC1 also shows reruns on Sunday. The entire series is available on video in NTSC format and can be found in US video catalogs or PBS stores. The episodes come three to a VHS tape or six to a DVD and (of course) every single episode features Ms. Richard at her comedic best! Bits and pieces can be seen on YouTube, but frankly they don't hold a candle to the DVDs.
Some of Shirley's most memorable sayings may be heard on the Character Quotes page.
As David Crofts recounts it, he originally had in mind South African-born actress Sheila Steafel for the role of Miss Brahms. He also hesitated to consider Wendy since she and Molly Sugden had worked closely together on a previous production of his, Hugh and I.
Over the life of the series, too numerous to count; however, I do consider the following episodes to be those in which Wendy really shone:
|Season I||Pilot Episode
Dear Sexy Knickers
|Season II||The Clock|
It Pays to Advertise
|Season VI||The Club
Do You Take This Man?
|Season VIII||Closed Circuit
The Erotic Dreams of Mrs. Slocombe
|Season IX||Monkey Business|
|Season X||Friends and Neighbors|
A popular half-hour variety show produced by ATV and broadcast by ITV that ran from 1956 to 1966. It was mostly comedy, but also included some musical presentations. Wendy participated in a comedy sketch in late 1962 or early 1963 (most likely one of the episodes from season 11). As she says in her book: "In the sketch, I was Arthur's daughter and Nicholas Parson played the posh boyfriend whom I brought home." Wendy also noted that the show went out live and was broadcast from the Golders Green Hippodrome in London.
A couple of minutes of Wendy's sketch may be seen on YouTube.
It appears that on 3 Nov 95, the BBC aired a show called The Heroes of Comedy on Channel 4. In connection with Haynes, a number of clips were shown of his vintage sketches (including Wendy's piece).
In 1966, Haynes played a minor role in the movie Doctor In Clover. Wendy was in the movie too, but they shared no scenes.
This situation comedy plays out in the Spanish resort of that name, which is famous (or notorious) for being a favorite low-budget destination for sun-worshippers on holiday from the UK. While on balance it is funny and engaging, the show is frequently compromised by bawdy and risque humor, as well as extremely salty language.
On 25 Apr 08 Wendy made a guest appearance on an episode of the show's second series playing the foul-tempered mother of one of the regular characters. Clad in sun hat and red swimsuit, she and a seventy-something gal have a show-down (over a man) straight from the wild west, complete with steely gazes, motorized mounts, and a quick draw.
Actually, the choicest minutes of Wendy's scene from this episode can be found on YouTube, in the form of a 4-minute clip. Also to found thereabouts is a sort of rap music video using cuts of the scene, but truth told: it's not nearly as interesting as the original scene itself.
A sampler of some of Wendy's lines:
The 'reality' show Big Brother has proved to be a solid hit in the UK, where it is entering its 9th year and still going strong. Its rather unsavory concept is for a group of people to live in a domicile (in a TV studio) for some length of time, with their activities and antics televised, and at regular intervals members of the group are voted away for whatever reason, with the last few standing declared the winners. Ancillary to the main show is a discussion program called Big Brother, Little Brother, on which celebrities appear, talk about the various housemates, and assess their chances for surviving till the end of the season.
While Wendy did not appear in the main show as a houseguest, she was in at least two of the commentary episodes, which air on Sundays on Channel 4. Her first appearance was 10 Jun 07, and second on 15 Aug 07.
In both appearances, Wendy was dressed casually and actually seemed to be having a good time analyzing the behavior and character of the various house denizens. But what makes her commentary truly a delight to watch and listen to is the way she seemed to speak so much from her own experiences and likes and dislikes. One can't help but delight at the occasional insight into Wendy's personality that comes along during the discussion.
Both her appearances can be seen as clips on YouTube, so rather than transcribe her talks, a couple of links to the clips are hereby offered (Flash plugins required to view, unfortunately):
According to the UK Gameshows website, this appears to have been a one-off New Year's Eve quiz show, produced by the BBC, and broadcast on 31 Dec 06.
Wendy participated on one of the five celebrity quiz teams.
Without a doubt, the British word-game show Blankety Blank on BBC 1 will seem familiar to American viewers; it's based on exactly the same premise as the very popular US show The Match Game. The main -- and very obvious -- difference, is that the British host Lily Savage (aka Paul O'Grady) is nothing like staid American emcee Gene Rayburn! But more to the point is that on a number of occasions, Wendy Richard participated as part of the show's celebrity panel.
The game is fairly straightforward. There are six celebrities who sit in two rows at stage left, and two contestants sitting stage right who are playing for various prizes. The emcee reads to one contestant a line or phrase with one word missing. The celebrities write what they think the missing word is, and the contestant also provides a guess. If the guess matches one or more celebrity answers, the contestant gains points. The ones with the most points then play a "supermatch". That usually entails a two-word phrase, of which one word is hidden from the contestant, who must guess the mostly likely missing word, as provided from some previous audience. The contestant may call on three celebrities for suggestions. Winning that round means the top contestant engages in a "head to head" with a single celebrity, the object being to guess the same missing word as the celebrity chooses.
As an aside, it may also be noted that on 22 Jan 98 a program entitled Wogan's Best of Blankety Blank was aired, with TV personality Terry Wogan recalling some of his favorite moments from the game show. Wendy also appeared on this; though whether it was in person or in a clip from a pre-1998 episode of Blankety Blank is unknown. Wendy's first appearance ever in the series was back in 1981, while she was working on Are You Being Served? Here is a link to a YouTube clip of the opening minutes of that 1981 game show episode.
And now on to some specifics:
Tuesday, 15 May 1984
Friday, 28 November 1986
from the Christmas, 1986 episode
from the Christmas, 1987 episode
from the 2 October 1999 episode
The title refers to making ends meet without going into debt, and managing this is a constant worry for the protagonist of the show, Dora Page (played by established British actress Dora Bryan). The comedy was set in a sausage factory; Wendy played a recurring secondary character named Maudie who worked at the factory along with Dora. The series, which was first televised on Saturday, 19 Feb 72, did not last very long, since (as Wendy noted in her book) it "turned out to be not the funniest of sitcoms". According to the BBC's Comedy Guide, it lasted only 13 episodes in 1972. Interestingly, the first season (seven episodes) went out under the name Both Ends Meet, in the spring of '72, whereas for the final season of six, released in the autumn of that year, the show was called simply Dora.
The title refers to the name of the sitcom's protagonist, one Stanley Bowler, played by actor George Baker. A spin-off from The Fenn Street Gang, the show only lasted for a single season of 13 half-hour episodes. It covered the adventures of one of the minor characters from that earlier series, a bloke from the east end of London who spends his time trying to elbow his way into high society in pursuit of the respectability it affords.
Wendy appears in a single episode: the second of the series, entitled Members Only. She enters as a cigarette girl hired to work an event Bowler is organizing, but her cheap-nightclub attire and lower-class accent is most definitely not what he's looking for. Bowler sends Wendy away and she reappears later in the scene, wearing a much more conservative outfit and now speaking with a posh accent that Wendy fans will readily recognize from her occasional use of it for comic effect on Are You Being Served?
Besides Wendy, some other famous actors appear in Bowler over the course of the short series: Gretchen Franklin (from EastEnders) plays Stanley Bowler's mother, and one may also see in various episodes Johnny Briggs (Coronation Street), Freddy Jones (Emmerdale), Julian Holloway (Carry On movies), and Hammer actress Valerie Leon.
This show is a relative newcomer to the early morning new program scene on British television, and is unusual in that it airs on two channels simultaneously. But make no mistake: the show can claim a pedigree stretching back to 1983, since it is the successor to the established news programs Breakfast Time.
A three-hour-long program, BBC Breakfast provides news and interviews, and it is for the latter reason that it receives our attention here at the WRAP. Wendy was interviewed at least three times on the show.
In early August of 2001, she appeared in a brief (4:18) interview, tied to the schedule changes for the EastEnders series announced at about the same time.
The BBC currently provides a Realplayer-compatible streaming video clip of the interview. The quality of the media leaves quite a bit to be desired. This transcript of her interview may be easier to understand.
Of interest to Wendy-fans was her noticeably high spirits during the interview (despite the yellow walls and bright red carpet of the show's set).
June of 2004 saw Wendy again appear on the show, except this time the show came to her; that is, it visited the Elstree set of EastEnders for an interview of modest length (5:58), about Wendy's role on the show, as well as Pauline's current storyline.
As before, a Realplayer-compatible streaming video clip is available, and its quality being what it is, you may want to consider checking out this transcript of the interview. The BBC News website also has a page with a link to the video clip.
Finally, Wendy is listed on this program archive webpage as having appeared on the show on the morning of 19 Oct 05 to talk about "her role in EastEnders and in Carry on Christmas which is now available on DVD".
Initiated in 1983, this show was evidently a ground-breaking concept in its time. While perhaps mostly studio-bound, it would go on location at times, one instance of which was on 22 Apr 83, when the host conducted an interview with the cast of Are You Being Served on the actual set of the show.
The AYBS interview may be seen on YouTube. Judging from the action and dialogue, it was done during the filming of the episode Memories Are Made of This, and Wendy, dressed as Miss Brahms, was clearly comfortable and in good spirits as she chatted with the interviewer.
The British word-game show Call My Bluff, hosted by Bob Holness, has featured several visits from Wendy. Since episodes are evidently repeated months or years later, there's no point in tracking every airing of each episode in which she's appeared. Instead, below appears (courtesy of Andy Clews) a general description of the show. The table beneath the description links to episode-specific details (how she looked, how well she played, and her colleagues and opponents) of the two discrete appearances I'm certain about: 12 Nov 99 (which does not appear to have been a repeat), and also an appearance of hers from 1998 that was reshown on 23 Mar 00 on BBC 1. (There are probably other appearances as well -- the '98 show was possibly re-aired in April of 99.)
"[The show is] a low-key sort of thing, with typical gentle British wit and sense of humor. Call My Bluff consists of two teams of three players, and a chairman conducting the game. Each team has a "captain" who appears on every show, and the other two players are invited celebrity guests; usually actors or other media celebrities and the occasional politician. The two captains are Alan Coren and Sandi Toksvig, both well-known personalities in the world of humor in the UK.
"Basically, in each round of the game the chairman shows an obscure word from the Oxford English Dictionary, and each member of one team gives a definition of what it means. Two definitions are false, the third is true. One member from the opposing team has to guess the true definition. It's a 30-minute show and there is usually enough time for 6 or 7 definitions. If the team guess the correct definition then they win a point; if they get it wrong then the other team gets the point, and the winning team is the one with most points at the end of the game. There are no prizes (though the performers get paid for their appearance, I'm sure); it's just a bit of fun for all concerned. It doesn't sound terribly exciting, and it isn't, but the fun lies in the way each team member presents their definition and shows how witty and inventive they can be. And of course viewers can pit their wits and see if they can guess the correct definition also."
And now on to the specifics:
from the 12 Nov 99 airing (1999 episode)
from the 23 Mar 00 airing (1998 episode)
The popular string of Carry on movies spun off a collection of television productions that were done rather like the time-honored manner of an English Christmas pantomime play. The first one, a holiday special in 1969 called Carry On Christmas, was such a hit that a subsequent show was put together by Thames Productions in 1970 entitled Carry On Again Christmas, and then two more were done in years after that. All were spoofs of well-known literary classics; the theme for the second show was Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, with Sid James as Long John Silver. Unfortunately, the second annual show -- unlike the other Christmas specials -- was filmed only in black-and-white.
In the program, first broadcast on 24 Dec 70, Ms. Richard played the part of Kate, a wench waiting tables at the Admiral Benbow Inn. Her role was a relatively minor one; the female lead, predictably, is Barbara Windsor, who by this time was firmly established on the Carry On team, having already completed four movies for the franchise. Wendy appeared in the initial scene at the inn, serving drinks and getting ogled by the men. Once the Hispaniola has set sail, we see she's been smuggled aboard and hidden below (hmm, I don't quite recall that from Stevenson's original story...). Then there's a bit of a sight gag as she disrobes from layer after layer of petticoat and underskirt.
In general, her character's bubbly and attractive, though this really wasn't a vehicle that allowed Wendy to really stretch her acting legs, so to speak. Interestingly, she appeared in this TV special before either of her Carry On movie appearances.
The program has been available for years on PAL format video in the UK, but was fairly hard to find elsewhere. Happily, in late-2005 all four of the Carry On Christmas specials were released on DVD (region 2). Many of these can be found on eBay, but it appears to be less expensive and faster to simply order a copy internationally from amazon.co.uk.
Accompanying the 2005 release of the thirty-year-old series of Carry On Christmas specials onto mass-market DVD are a trio of interviews with producer Peter Rogers, actor Jack Douglas, and of course, Wendy Richard.
Wendy's segments were shot sometime in mid-2005, almost certainly all in one sitting. Dressed modestly in a white blouse and dark jacket, with only her MBE's miniature pin on her left lapel as adornment, she spoke as if addressing someone to the camera's left. Her reminiscing about the show was woven together with numerous scenes of hers from that particular production.
Beginning by ticking off many of the classic shows she appeared in, Wendy commented on her theory for the success of the Carry On series, and offered some anecdotes from the show, as well as gracious acknowledgement of her Carry On colleagues, especially Barbara Windsor-- --
|"She was very nice to me, and very helpful . . .she took me under her wing and looked after me, and I'll always be grateful to her for that."|
She shared the secret to good television comedy in general --
|"As David Croft used to say to us: 'play it for truth, play it straight, and the laughs will come.' And they do -- provided you have a good script."|
The interview ended on a rather bittersweet note with Wendy poring over a number of glossy publicity photos of herself (this was one of them) from the Seventies --
|"I always get the jokes in about myself before someone else does. And I say, look at that: I used to look like Jane Fonda; now I just look like Henry Fonda."|
In 2002, the BBC put together a nice tribute to the life and times of Are You Being Served? star Molly Sugden. The show does briefly note Sugden's earlier work, but really focuses almost exclusively on her time at Grace Brothers in the 1970s and 1980s. There are clips galore and quite a lot of interesting reminiscing by her colleagues from that show. The show was hosted by John Inman, but needless to say, Wendy appeared frequently throughout the tribute show.
(I'll put together a more detailed review in the near future.)
This show is available in NTSC format video in the US (and probably PAL in the UK).
This show was another neat example of borrowing a proven TV programming concept from abroad and making it one's own. Beginning in 1965 on American television as Hollywood Squares, the half-hour-long game show Celebrity Squares was introduced in 1975 by British television producer ITV. The idea was exactly the same as the original: present nine celebrities in a large set that allowed visiting contestants to play the game Tic-tac-toe (or in the UK: Noughts and Crosses) based on the witty answers offered by the stars. The UK version lasted for about four years, and was then revived for a couple more in 1993 as the 'New' Celebrity Squares, though the game was exactly the same (as indeed was the host, Bob Monkhouse).
Wendy appeared in both incarnations of the British version -- the first time appears to have been in 1976, and then again in 1993 (along with friend and colleague John Inman). In the 1993 version, Wendy sat in the upper left square.
In late 2006, as Wendy wound down her participation on EastEnders, she took the opportunity to appear as a guest presenter of this popular daytime medical program. The show visits the wards of one of London's major hospitals; the presenter speaks with patients and staff, allowing viewers to take the pulse of a modern urban medical institution.
For a much more comprehensive description of the program and its locale (Guy's and St Thomas'), check out the hospital's own website.
On 28 Dec 05 the BBC aired a special program hosted by Tony Livesey that looked at -- of all things -- the distinctly British phenomenon known as "crumpet". A precise definition is elusive, though as Livesey describes it the appellation can be applied to any very pretty, working-class girl who appeals to "normal" men. The gal can be saucy and vulgar, or innocent and restrained, as long as she is of singular physical attractiveness. The program fills its hour-long time slot with a generous helping of examples of on-screen crumpets as depicted on TV and in the movies between the 1950s and 1980s. Such icons of British light entertainment as the Carry On series, Up Pompeii, On The Buses and the Hammer Studios horror films -- indeed, even Are You Being Served? -- were immersed in the concept, until the double-barreled opposition formed by organized feminism and political correctness brought a general end in the 1980s to crumpets as part of mainstream British culture. The term does still find modern currency in British slang: Andy Clews defines it as a "label applied (amongst males of a less than gallant persuasion) to any desirable female".
The show features a number of interviews with women from the TV and film heyday: Honor Blackman, Carol Cleveland, Madeline Smith, Caroline Munro, and of course, Wendy. Providing a unsmiling, arms-crossed, purely clinical, feminist perspective is Australian writer/activist Germaine Greer.
The interview with Wendy is interwoven in bits throughout the show, as are those with the other actresses. (About a minute's worth of her interview, including some brief excerpts from Wendy's early shows, can be seen on YouTube -- but be advised that much of the 8-minute clip's non-Wendy content is quite coarse and should be considered at least PG.)
Interestingly, while host Livesey is seen speaking directly with most of the other women, Wendy appeared by herself speaking only to someone off-camera. She's introduced by Livesey's voiceover: "Take that great British actress and one-time Carry On star. She was some dolly bird."
On the reaction she still gets from people, Wendy said --
|"A few weeks ago a cab driver went past and he says ' 'Ere, you were a right sort when you was young.' And I went 'Oh, thank you!', and to him it was a compliment."|
A little later she commented on her costume from Up, Pompeii --
|"The frock was SO brief it had to be toupee-taped to my bosom, so nothing would fall out, you know."|
About On The Buses, Wendy had to say --
|"[It] was London Weekend's top television program. I'd made a couple of appearances as clippies, which of course the bus crew were always lusting over . . . I think it was good clean fun."|
The show also looked at why the concept of crumpet eventually disappeared from TV and movie screen, about which Wendy offered her observation --
|"Political correctness has done more damage to British comedy than anything else at all. The programs today are just not funny anymore. I think it's because they think, 'Oh, we're going to offend somebody' or something, but for heaven's sake, if you haven't got a sense of humor, you might as well give up."|
Concerning the movie Carry On Girls --
|"They had June Whitfield as the leader of this feminist group. And they wanted to stop [the beauty contest] because they didn't agree with it; which is so silly, because if a young girl wants to go into a beauty competition, nobody is forcing her to."|
And finally, about Are You Being Served? --
|"I can honestly say that there was nothing going on between Miss Brahms and Mr. Lucas. He would have liked there to have been, but she was having none of it."|
Livesey has the final say, noting about AYBS? that "here was seaside humor at its old-fashioned best."
The subject of the show is the Home Guard in England during World War II. The series started in 1968 and ran for a total of 80 episodes. Ms. Richard appeared in four episodes between 1970 and 1973.
In the two episodes from 1970 (Two & A Half Feathers -- broadcast first on 13 Nov 70, and Mum's Army -- broadcast a week later on 20 Nov 70), she played Edith Parish, the girlfriend of character Private Joe Walker. Her short (about a minute) scene with Walker in 2&AHF seems to establish Edith as a bit of a tart; nevertheless, Wendy's performance is a treat, mainly because of her marvelous voice; silky, coy, and beguiling. In contrast, Mum's Army -- an episode revolving around the short-lived recruitment of a women's auxiliary for the platoon -- casts the character of Edith in a bit more neutral a light. Wendy appeared in three scenes: first during an interview by Mainwaring (where Edith's working class origins are all too evident to the Captain); then during a parade [drill] session, where Mainwaring does his best to instruct the ladies in the intricacies of standing and of turning whilst in formation; and finally, she's seen sitting around and talking with the lads near the end of the episode.
Ms. Richard's character changed somewhat for her third and fourth episodes. In these roles from 1972 and 1973 (The King Was in His Counting House -- shown first on 17 Nov 72, and My British Buddy -- shown first on 7 Nov 73) she played a nice young girl named . . . Shirley! In both episodes, she keeps the ringletted, swept up hairstyle of the Edith character, but Shirley's personality appears a bit perkier and more . . . fun, I suppose. It's remarkably reminiscent of the early Miss Brahms -- which may not be surprising, of course, since Ms. Richard was filming her first couple of seasons of AYBS? at this same time. In The King. . . Shirley is still the girlfriend of Pvt Walker (which leads one to suspect the producers forgot the character's name used to be Edith...). She accompanies him to a party at the Mainwaring residence, where she and Walker seem to be the only ones who manage to have any fun. She's on camera for about half the episode and lends considerable brightness and charm to the proceedings.
Some of Edith / Shirley's pithy sayings may be found on the Character Quotes page.
Re-runs of the show still appear regularly in the UK on BBC1 (as of late 1996), and it has probably appeared on the US television via the BBC America cable channel. All four of Ms. Richard's episodes are available on both VHS video tape and on DVD. On tape:
|Episode Name||BBC Ref. Num.||Format(s)||Collection Title|
|My British Buddy||5442||NTSC / PAL||"My British Buddy"|
|The Two and a Half Feathers||4320||NTSC / PAL||"Two and a Half Feathers"|
|Mum's Army||4490 (not available)
"Very Best of Dad's Army, Vol. 2"
|The King Was in His Counting House||4764||NTSC / PAL||"Uninvited Guest"|
. . . And on BBC DVD:
|Episode Name||UPN||Format(s)||Collection Title|
|My British Buddy||5-014503-159924||PAL, Reg.2+4||"Dad's Army : Complete 6th Series"|
|The Two and a Half Feathers||5-014503-159726||PAL, Reg. 2+4||"Dad's Army: Complete 4th Series"|
|Mum's Army||5-014503-159726||PAL, Reg. 2+4||"Dad's Army: Complete 4th Series"|
|The King Was in His Counting House||P945-12-UK||PAL, Reg. 2+4||"Dad's Army: The DVD Collection" (disk 12)|
The Counting House DVD is also available in the "Dad's Army: Complete 5th Series" package. Legitimate commercial versions of all of the DVDs show up on eBay periodically, though it may well be quicker (and cheaper!) to order from Amazon.co.uk.
For lots of general info about the series, see the Dad's Army website.
The show's writer, David Croft, and a couple of the other actresses (Mollie Sugden among them), join Ms. Richard a few years later for Are You Being Served?
Shot in 1997, this half-hour production is a set of clips from the classic series interspersed with commentary by various British celebrities (including Wendy, of course).
Ms. Richard seemed to have many good memories of the show, speaking of it with great enthusiasm. Among her comments:
|[Speaking of the primary characters]: "Well, they were believable. Really! I know a Captain Mainwaring, who lives in our area. I better not say what he does, 'cause everybody will know who he is . . ."|
|[About John Laurie, who played ever-pessimistic Private Frazier]: "John Laurie, when he sits there . . . Usually, he's the voice of doom, isn't he? You know, when he's on the phone, on one of those old-fashioned candlestick phones . . ."|
|"I think it's ageless; and will go on forever and forever."|
Available on PAL video.
Produced by Southern, in 1964, this was one of the earliest game shows that Wendy appeared on. I don't know yet whether it was a recurring or one-off part for her. The essence of the show is summarized on the Sixties City website:
|"Hosted by DJ Barry Langford this was similar to Juke Box Jury, but featured four teenagers giving their views on new releases - three 'hip' and one 'square'. HIT or MISS cards were held up and, if a record was voted a 'MISS', a cannonball would slide down a chute and demolish it."|
I asked Wendy about this show, which was not listed or mentioned in her book. She replied: "I had forgotten all about Dad, You're a Square! It was just a fun panel game with records."
Ms. Richard appeared in the second episode of the second season of this ITC spy thriller in a small role as the character Sue. The episode is entitled "Don't Nail Him Yet" and it was first transmitted on 22 Dec 64. Wendy's in the scene for about two and a half minutes.
"She plays a girl with typical Sixties blonde hair and a broad cockney
accent. She and her rowdy friends harass Drake at a bar while he is in
disguise as a meek music lover. Sue is responsible for spilling beer on
Drake's record, while her friends end up dropping his record and then
treading on it. Eventually, the quartet are thrown out of the pub,
having succeeded in drawing Drake to the attention of his quarry, a
young man called Rawson who is sitting in the corner of the pub. Rawson
is completely deceived by Drake's cover, no doubt because of the small
fracas, and offers the hand of friendship."
Thanks to Kate for the above synopsis.
See the 1964 room of the Gallery for a few images of Wendy. Here (60k) and here (12k) are unmistakable audio clips of a couple of her lines (these are also on one of the Character Quotes pages).
The show can still be seen in the UK. It also occasionally shows up (most recently in 1997 on the Movieplex cable channel) in the US, renamed Secret Agent. Ms. Richard's episode can be found today in the UK on video (PAL), and it has recently become widely available in the US on DVD. Look for Secret Agent aka Danger Man, Vol. 6, from A&E, catalog number AAE-70392 (but you may have to buy it as part of "Set 3", A&E catalog number AAE-70390.)
The show starred that ubiquitous actor of secret agents, Patrick McGoohan -- who also played the lead in a subsequent, related espionage series called The Prisoner, which was shot on location in Portmeirion, North Wales, which is where playwright NoŽl Coward wrote Blithe Spirit, a production of which Wendy appeared in back in 1980!
A game show from HTV Production, this program has been described as a "family word game" with contestants able to win cash prizes. It was hosted by Don Moss, and evidently included celebrity guests inasmuch as Wendy appeared on the show on 15 Aug 79. The UK Gameshow Website speaks further about how the games were played.
This was a successful variety show that ran on BBC and ITV between 1963 and 1981. In general a half-hour long, its format appears to have been as a collection of short comedy sketches, one after another, with Emery in most or all of them, often dressed as different characters. Although the show is long gone, it can still be seen on occasion on the UKTV Drama cable channel.
Wendy made a brief, so to speak, appearance in one sketch that involves the daily rounds of the neighborhood milkman. The broadcast date of the episode is unknown; judging from her look, your webmeister guesses it's probably about 1973. To the great satisfaction of Wendy fans everywhere, the entire six-minute milkman sketch (watch for her at the beginning) is available in flash format on YouTube.
A BBC TV series about an East End policeman which ran for two decades, from 1955 to 1976, it has been described as "cozy" and "paternalistic", but was apparently very popular during its time.
One source notes Ms. Richard first appeared during the episode "The Outlaws" on 24 Nov 62 as a young girl, named Jean Davis, who's run away from home. This guest appearance was her "first speaking part", and marked Wendy's debut in dramatic television, her only prior television appearance having been on a show with Sammy Davis Jr. She may also have appeared nine years later on 13 Feb 71 in an episode entitled "The Nightmare Hours" as a character named Barbara Walker. Unfortunately, both of Wendy's episodes are listed as missing on the British TV Missing Episodes Index.
PC Dixon's daughter was originally played by Billie Whitelaw, who later appeared in Gumshoe.
The source of the worldwide popularity of the Dr. Who science fiction series -- described by one critic as "originally intended for the undiscriminating junior viewer" -- is a profound mystery. Yet despite the mediocre acting, lame scripts, wearisome characters, and dreadful cheesy special effects, this series managed to survive an astonishing 26 years from 1963 until, mercifully, it was put down for good in 1989. Nevertheless, it still commands a respectable fan following.
On 26 Nov 93, as a one-off special for a children's charity coincident with the 30th anniversary of the series, the first of two very short Dr. Who segments was shown on the BBC. Both segments had been shot partially on the set of the well-established soap opera EastEnders and they both featured a number of the EE cast members.
Wendy appeared as Pauline Fowler during the first segment. She's heavily made-up during the scene set in Albert Square sometime in the early 21st Century (left image, above), but assumes a much more youthful look when the time-shifting suddenly moves things back to 1973 (right image, above; and see the 1993 room of the Gallery, too). (The woman with her in both scenes is Gillian Tayleforth, playing Kathy Beale.) Here's a succinct write-up of the special segments' history, and their scripts. This special has apparently never been released commercially; however, off-the-air taped copies can be found now and then if one looks around hard enough.
Over the life of the series, Dr. Who usually traveled with a female sidekick -- err, companion. In another scene from this special, we see him talking with one of them played by handsome English actress Louise Jameson reprising her mid-Seventies role as companion Leela. Five years later Jameson appeared on Wendy's series EastEnders for a two-year period as the DiMarco family matriarch, Rosa.
On 9 March 2008, the ITV1 television channel broadcast an episode of their new series Dog Rescue which featured Wendy along with her Cairn Terrier named Lilly. The show is a documentary and the six episodes in the series chronicle the efforts to rescue unwanted dogs from unhealthy environments and relocate them in caring households. It's apparently shot in dual locations: both at the Manchester Dogs Home and at the Dogs Trust Centre in London.
Wendy's episode (which may have been the initial program in the series) centered on her bringing in Lilly for some discipline [obedience] classes at the London center. Here's a publicity photo for the show. There is a video covering her appearance on the ITV website. Annoyingly, it only allows UK residents to watch it (but this can probably be easily bypassed using a freely-available web-based proxy service).
On Sunday, 28 May 00, BBC1 presented a tribute to this venerable comedy series, hosted by Victoria Woods [external website].
The show presented a number of interviews with actors and actresses from the series, including of course Ms. Richard (who appeared in four of the television episodes, not to mention a number of the series' radio broadcasts). I am told she "looked quite glamorous", and in her interview she spoke about the actor, James Beck, who played her character's boyfriend in the show and how sad it was that he died so young. She also described working with the other actors, as well.
This two-hour special, produced by the BBC, aired on 21 Jul 85 and offered a look at the world of drug abuse.
It's unclear what exactly Wendy's role was; however, as can be seen from the show's publicity photo, she joins quite a few other well-know Brits in conveying the show's message of "Just say no".
| To the left: What appears to be
Wendy's official EastEnders publicity sheet from 1985
summarizing her life and career (89k).
Ms. Richard's longest lasting role was that of the matriarch of Albert Square in the BBC-produced serial drama EastEnders, which chronicles the everyday life and times of a neighborhood in London's working-class East Side. She appeared continuously throughout the first 22 years of the show, playing the feisty Pauline Beale Fowler. Indeed, Ms. Richard seems to have gained for herself a degree of notoriety in regard to her longevity on the show. And to think: Wendy very nearly wasn't considered for the role by producer Julia Smith, because she was "already a household name" due to her work as Shirley Brahms in the Seventies and Eighties.
Because a typical episode of EastEnders is presented as a mosaic of short scenes involving a wide range of characters, Ms. Richard did not necessarily appear in every single episode. In fact, weeks would go by with no sign of Pauline (which was often a convenient opportunity for Wendy to guest on other shows, go on vacation, or otherwise take a well-earned break from the day-in/day-out filming on the Square). Nevertheless, over the years between 1993 and 1995 her presence on camera in EE seems to have averaged out to roughly about six solid hours per annum, which is equivalent to doing 3 full-length feature movies every year!
Unfortunately, in 1998 and 1999 certain artistic direction by the then-producers caused Pauline's role to be drastically reduced, indeed to a point where it nearly vanished altogether. Around 2000, changes to the show's production staff effectively resulted in the return of Mrs. Fowler to the Square. However, by 2006 the storyline involving Pauline was evolving in a way that Wendy realized was no longer true to the character -- a personae that she knew intimately from playing weekly for all those 22 years. Her objections brushed aside, finally Wendy and the show parted company. Pauline Fowler's last scene was at Christmas -- the traditional time of year for especially dramatic plot turns on EastEnders. In 2007, Wendy described to Gloria Hunniford why she left: "I wasn't happy with the way the character was going, because I cared so much about Pauline; and I knew it was wrong, and so I stuck to my guns, and that was that." -- which squares with other accounts of her reasons. The topic still gets asked of her evidently. In late 2008, when news that her illness had reoccurred, she spoke further (to the Daily Express) about her reasons for departing the show: "I left because I wasn't happy. Also, I couldn't believe in what they wanted me to do and unless I can find some truth in what I am doing, I cannot play it." (This is a philosophy that seems to have guided Wendy throughout her career; indeed she said it was something she'd learned from her friend and mentor, David Croft.) Specifically, it was Pauline's re-marriage that was the final straw. She was quoted in The Star about the same time as saying: "Pauline remarrying was wrong. Some women never remarry. My mother never remarried after daddy died." That her character was killed off seems not to have bothered Wendy. In a 2007 interview with the Daily Mirror, she said: "I miss the people and that's about it. It was time to leave and quite right that Pauline died. I know people were upset that she's gone for good but it was the only thing to do." Todd Carty, who played Pauline's son, Mark, summed it up pretty well in a 2009 interview: "I know she was very sad at the way the show was heading [in 2006]. Nobody knew Pauline Fowler better than Wendy and it upset her to see her character develop a nasty streak. Pauline was a strong matriarch who would defend her family to the hilt . . . [b]ut Pauline was never poisonous and I think Wendy left at the right time."
What drove Pauline? I think it was above all her sense of family and of each person's place within the clan. Her blood ties were her strength, and her children were her hope. Of course she was not perfect herself: at times she could be downright cranky and abrasive (though, contrary to popular myth, Pauline would smile on occasion), and at other times she was pathetically clueless. But despite her faults, she strove to maintain a firm moral compass, a common sense way of looking at things. This becomes all the more evident in comparison to the lack thereof demonstrated by so many other of the characters around Albert Square. Yes, things are destined to turn out the way they will -- though that didn't keep her, through the years, from occasionally almost breaking loose of what she recognized as the stifling environment of the Square. But in the final analysis, it was her life, as it was her Mum's, where her family still was, and where she reckoned -- correctly -- that she would spend the rest of her days. Let's allow Wendy the final word on the character: "She was a good woman. She wasn't a battleaxe, but she would fight for her family as any woman worth their salt would."
In a 1987 interview with Woman's Own magazine, Wendy commented on Mrs. Fowler's softer side: "Pauline is a very sexy lady. She's just not very obvious . . I don't want Pauline to wear more glamorous clothes. It wouldn't be right. Her sexuality comes from within. She has a certain warmth." This was an aspect of the character sadly ignored over the years by those who rushed to judge based solely on wardrobe and circumstance (despite occasional storylines hinting at the woman beneath the cardigan).
While it might have been right to prevent Pauline from becoming too glamorous, a couple of allowances were made for Wendy's sake. From a 1986 magazine article: "Wendy, however, has taken it all extremely well. Apart from the trauma of cutting her hair -- she was so upset the BBC gave the OK to grow it again -- she's weathering her new image fine." In a 1992 interview, Wendy herself addressed why Pauline started the series with short hair: "The only thing that ever upset me about the part was having to cut my hair off to play Pauline, at the beginning. That nearly broke my heart. But to start with it was essential to stop viewers confusing Pauline with Miss Brahms. It was great when they finally let me grow it back." In the same article Wendy noted the show's other concession to her: "I do everything to make Pauline as realistic as possible but I draw the line at filing my nails down. I'm very proud of them, they're all my own . . ."
The BBC has a formal character write-up for Pauline. My own opinion of that sketch is that it leaves quite a bit unsaid. Wikipedia offers a surprisingly thorough look at the character. More interesting is this unusual interpretation of Pauline by devoted Wendy-fan Anneloes.
In 2005, the BBC put out a book to chronicle the events of the first twenty years of the show. Probably in recognition of Wendy's (and Pauline's) central place on the show, she was asked to write the foreword for the book. Harking back to the start of the series, Wendy noted that it's the professionalism of the actors and the realistic basis of its situations that have kept EE the remarkable production that it is. Most perceptively (especially given the circumstances of Wendy's departure in 2006), she went on to say: "those of us who have been there since the start feel a great sense of guardianship over the show, and will always try to keep it true to its roots." The book also contains a thumbnail profile about Pauline Fowler, though it's a bit dark (labeling her the "Boadicea of Battleaxes" to begin with) and fails to acknowledge the positive side of Pauline's character that has been evident over the years.
Wendy herself seems to have had a good reputation on the EE set, both as a professional actor and as a person. An article in Soaplife notes that "much like the Fowler house, Wendy's dressing room is the place on the EastEnders set where everyone goes with their problems. "Anyone can come and see me," she says. "I'm always there for a cuddle if anybody is feeling down."
Interestingly, the maiden name of Wendy's character, Pauline Beale, was actually that of an East-end cousin of co-creator Tony Holland's.
For general information about the television show and the other people who appear in it, check out the BBC's official website for the show. Another quite comprehensive EE site is the Walford Web.
The WRAP has assembled some of Pauline's finest sayings on the Character Quotes page.
EastEnders shows in the UK on BBC1 nearly every day. It is also carried by many American PBS stations, which typically show a couple of episodes a week that are invariably some years behind production (and likely to fall steadily even further back, since as of 2002 no less than four new EE episodes are being produced each week).
A few bits and pieces have been released on video. The only one that your webmeister knows of for sure is a volume entitled EastEnders: The Den and Angie Years (BBC reference number 5384). It can be found on VHS videotape in both NTSC and PAL format. Be advised, though, that Pauline (Ms. Richard) only appears for a minute or so during the two-hour video, in two separate scenes.
The EE franchise has resulted in a number of products involving Pauline/Wendy. Besides the videotape mentioned above, a knitting pattern book, three wall calendars, two EE Annual books, a mailable post card, and even a greeting card style featuring Pauline's likeness have been produced over the years, all in the mid- to late-1980s.
For the web-savvy, YouTube can be a rich -- if somewhat fleeting -- source of EastEnders clips, outtakes, specials, and tributes. Your best best is to simply search on "EastEnders" or "Pauline Fowler" and browse the results. Offerings sometimes don't stay up long, especially since the BBC evidently takes a dim view to having clips posted on the internet (unless they themselves do it). Here are a some links to YouTube videos in which Wendy appears in-character as Pauline:
Among the specials televised for EastEnders' 15th anniversary was this program featuring a wide variety of EE clips arranged along thematic lines. Interspersed among the clips were numerous short interview segments with many of the current and former cast members of the series, including of course Ms. Richard. Album was about 45 minutes in length and was broadcast on 13 Feb 00.
Bits of Wendy's interview appear at four different times during the show: three, five, ten, and thirty-eight minutes into the program. Wearing a light-colored jacket over a dark blue blouse, she was seated on a chair in front of an EastEnders backdrop. The interviewer was never seen nor their questions recorded; as with the other interviewees, Wendy's responses or statements were simply inserted into the flow of video clips at the appropriate points.
She first noted how well the cast got along with each other:
|"EastEnders is a team show. It is all teamwork and we are a jolly good team. It's true we do have our ups and downs, but at the end of the day, we are there for each other."|
Then Wendy briefly spoke about the late Julia Smith, one of the original creators of the series:
|"She knew what she wanted; she knew how to get it; and she got the right results."|
In the third segment, she reminisced about when the cast first saw the shooting results of the first show's scenes:
|"We were given a private showing of them, and then you could have heard a pin drop in the room. Everyone sort of sat back and went 'ahhhh', because you knew you had really seen something."|
Finally, Wendy commented on the climax of the most well-known storyline involving Pauline Fowler:
|"The one [scene] I think sticks in most peoples' minds -- and mine -- is when Pauline hit Arthur with the frying pan. And the props boys left me a stack of six frying pans to pick my choice [from]."|
Although Ms. Richard's interviewed appearance is so very brief, this special was worthwhile since it also showed many scenes of her character Pauline over the last three-quarter score years.
During the build-up to the 15th anniversary of EastEnders in early 2000, a promotional advertisement for the various specials aired a number of times each day on the BBC in February, 2000 and featured Ms. Richard. Here's how it goes:
Ms. Richard is on voice-over while the camera shows someone decorating an EastEnders 15th birthday cake: "It was a joyous birth . . . [scene of Arthur, et al. finding Reg Cox dead from the very first episode] . . . with no teething problems. . . [an outtake of Grant and Tiffany] . . . A smooth journey into adolescence. . . [Ian getting shot in Bridge Street as Cindy looks on, shocked] . . . and it's still going strong . . . [Pauline hitting Melanie while Pauline says: "You lying little sl-t!"] . . . Celebrate with EastEnders all throughout this week." Then Wendy is shown (apparently on the set of the Queen Victoria pub) trying to blow out the candles on the completed cake -- and not succeeding at all. Finally she says: "Everyone's talking about it!" with a laugh in her voice. Then the white-on-black title screen appears and in the background you hear Ms. Richard speak aloud, something to the effect of: "Say! Have you swapped these candles over?"
Thanks to Anneloes for providing this report!
During the week beginning on 25 Oct 99, Ms. Richard appeared in a rather unusual mini-series about physical fitness. The series on BBC1, hosted by Dale Winton, rounded up four actors from EastEnders, questioned each concerning their life-style, got them to commit to improve some aspect of it, and then tracked their progress over a four week period. There were five half-hour shows in the series, shown on consecutive days. The first episode was an introduction; the subsequent shows checked the actors' progress each succeeding week.
Joining Ms. Richard for this endeavor was Adam Woodyatt (who plays EE's Ian Beale), Shaun Williamson (Barry Evans), and Tamzin Outhwaite (Melanie Healy). Wendy was the senior cast member of the group, though it was pretty clear from the start that it would be the two men (both younger than she) who really needed the most work, in regard to physical condition. If you're looking for some info on the other three folks, check out the BBC's official Fighting Fit web site. Naturally, the WR Appreciation Page here will focus exclusively on the highlights of Ms. Richard's appearance.
Fighting Fit was a curious presentation. Its premise obliged each cast member to share with the audience some highly personal facets of his or her private life. While it is true that Winton, the host (and show's conscience), strove for a non-judgmental, easy-going manner; and, it is true, each of the cast (especially Wendy and Adam) must surely be accustomed to living before the public eye, and yes, the show might just encourage some of the viewing audience to evaluate and improve their own situation . . . yet, even so, this must have been a most difficult show to do. There is probably nothing which a person considers more of a private matter than their health and/or physical condition. That Ms. Richard would share so much of herself like this speaks volumes about her courage and strength of character.
As part of the 16th anniversary of the long-running British soap opera EastEnders -- and to highlight that the show would be going to four new episodes each week -- the BBC threw a gala party on 10 Aug 01 at the Television Centre in West London. The event was attended by many of the cast members, including of course Wendy. Part of the evening was documented by a special hour-long television show EastEnders: It's Your Party, hosted by presenter Jonathan Ross. It featured one-on-one and group interviews with the cast; Ms. Richard, as befitted her station on the show, was interviewed first and at length by Ross. She was then joined by three others, Todd Carty, June Brown, and James Alexandrou who were given an opportunity to talk about Wendy and the show.
As one might expect, we'll look in depth only at Wendy's presence at the event. Here are a few images of her interview.
Overall, this came across as a bit of fun despite some very evident rough edges on the way that the interviews were scripted, organized, and actually conducted by Ross. Wendy handled herself during the interviews with her usual aplomb and charm, and the banter between her and her colleagues was unforced and good-natured.
The 'Best of Pauline' clips.
Wendy speaking of her cup of cocoa.
With the passing of Pauline Fowler from EastEnders, a special appeared in 2007 on the BBC which provided a positive look back at the notable high points experienced by Wendy's character over the years, as well as remarks by both Wendy and a number her colleagues from the show.
Your webmeister will provide a more detailed review in the near future, but for now note that the show is available for viewing, in bits, on YouTube:
Once the dramatic series had become well established, the BBC began offering some half-hour programs that went 'behind the scenes'. Entitled EastEnders Revealed, each of these special shows examined in detail one of the of the major families or individual characters, using interviews with the actors and glimpses into the soap's complex production mechanism. In 2002 an episode Meet The Fowlers was released, focusing of course on the denizens of 45 Albert Square: Arthur and Pauline Fowler, their three children, Pauline's mother, Lou Beale, and to a less extant, Pauline's brother's family. The BBC used to have edited transcripts of the various interviews from these special shows on their website, but these seemed to have evaporated over time.
Wendy's interview doesn't really kick off until about 22 minutes into the show. The host introduces her with: "If anyone knows who's who and what's what, it's Pauline Fowler." He knocks on the door of the Fowler house on the exterior set of EastEnders, and Wendy answers. She shows him into the interior set of the home, where they sit at the table in the living room. The two chat for a while, interspersed with various Pauline clips chosen to illustrate the particular topic being discussed.
After some initial chat, the host asks: "And the relationship with your 'sons' is very, very close on-screen and that must filter into your off-screen life as well?" Wendy concurs, saying:
|"Oh, yes! I know there's a rivalry -- a friendly rivalry -- between Barbara [Windsor] and myself. Because she says, 'Oh, I have the best sons', and I go "*I* have the best boys..."|
Then she spoke in more detail about the nature of her character:
|"Pauline is the salt of the earth. She is a wonderful mother. She might be a bit misguided, but she will always stand up for her children, whether they are wrong or not. You know, she is always there for her family."|
|"I think Pauline has been a giver. I think she hasn't had the greatest amount of luck in the world. I mean, when the program started, Arthur was unemployed and he was really a bit of a failure . . . But Pauline stood by him through thick and thin. You know, even when Pauline was expecting a late baby and in the first episode, Lou Beale was shouting at Pauline: 'you shouldn't be having a baby; you can't afford it.' "|
Then, as an observation of the difference between working comedy and drama:
|"When you leave light entertainment doing comedy shows after such a long time, you learn to time your lines and wait for the laugh. And then you've been here awhile, you realize there ain't any laughs, and you don't have to pause."|
This was followed by a rare and all-too-short glimpse into the interior set of the laundrette with Wendy and Letitia Dean (playing Sharon Watts) shooting a scene -- well, trying to shoot a scene, as Letitia has a serious case of the giggles.
Then cut back to the host for another question: "You've been working on EastEnders for 17 years. How does Wendy Richard feel when she looks back over at that time?"
|"Well, the first thing I do is think, 'God, haven't I aged!' I mean, I never used to have bags under my eyes. Hard work is not good for your face! . . . You look back and sometimes you wonder where the time has gone. You really do . . . Sometimes you think it's gone in the twinkling of an eye. But a very happy twinkling of an eye!"|
Ever the optimist, Wendy! Then the show closes with a few more clips of Fowler family high and low points presented to the tune of Sinatra's "That's Life". A montage of images from the show may be seen in the 2002 room of the Gallery.
The collection of Pauline clips from across the seventeen years of EastEnders -- mostly from the late 1980s and the 1990s.
This show, touted as a "personal finance quiz" and hosted by BBC presenter Alice Beer, broadcast an episode on 7 Aug 98 with Wendy. She appeared with a number of other celebrity guests: Clive Mantle, Patrick Cameron and Oz Clarke.
On 2 Jun 99, BBC1 showed a rerun [repeat] of a regular talk show hosted by Esther Rantzen (I don't know yet when the show originally aired). The title for this particular segment was "Addicted to Soaps", and Esther discussed the popularity of that genre of television programming with Wendy, along with Sam Kane (Brookside), Jane Rossington (Crossroads), and Vanessa Whitburn (editor of The Archers).