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Television Details (F through Q)


Fenn Street Gang, The

Another British comedy from the early 1970's, this series ran for three years (4 series) between 1971 and 1973, for a total of 47 episodes. It was apparently a sequel of sorts to the comedy series Please Sir!, and centered on the experiences of a number of students from same after they left school. Produced by independent LWT (London Weekend Television).

In the episode "Is That A Proposal, Eric?" (series 2, episode #12, first aired on 7 Jan 73), Wendy was featured during the second half of the show in a rather substantial part as Myrna, a seasoned contestant in a beauty pageant also entered by main character Sharon Eversleigh (played by Carol Hawkins).  Myrna and another girl, Jackie, notice Sharon's naiveté and they conspire to sabotage her in the eyes of the judges, though the two troublemakers receive a mild comeuppance at the end.  Twenty-nine-year-old Wendy's performance is remarkably polished.  She deftly mixes naughty and posh in her attitude, speaks without a hint of an east London accent, moves gracefully through her scenes, and shows off her figure to best advantage dressed for the pageant in a low-cut white one-piece swimsuit.

Here are some of her lines:

The show is available on PAL format DVD, Region 2 (what does that mean?) as of 2008.  Wendy may be seen in the last episode of disc #2 of the Second Series volume.  Part number 7952286, UPC 027626-228644.

Factoids

This was not the only work that Wendy Richard and Carol Hawkins did together in 1972.  The same year, both actress appeared in the movie Bless This House (though without sharing scenes).

One of Wendy's future colleagues in EastEnders, Pam St. Clement, also makes an appearance in this episode (though, again, not in Wendy's scenes).

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First Take

A news article on the Waveguide site some years ago noted that Ms. Richard appeared on the initial marathon episode of this documentary series about "celebrating launches, firsts and pioneers". It aired on 27 Sep 98 and she was tapped to introduce the first episode (from 1985) of EastEnders. The documentary was hosted by Python veteran Terry Jones and appeared on the brand new UK television channel called BBC Choice (which appears to be a relatively recent digital-only channel, with a mixture of distinct programming as well as recycles from BBC1 and BBC2).

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Frankie Howerd in Ulster

The early 1970s saw the increased engagement of British Army units in Ulster Province, Northern Ireland, in response to rising sectarian violence in the region. Comedian Frankie Howerd, a former serviceman himself, did a number of concerts around this time for Army troops stationed there, rather in the fashion of USO-type tours. Wendy joined him for one of the events held at RAF Aldergrove. The BBC edited footage from a number of the concerts into a program entitled Frankie Howerd in Ulster, which finally aired on BBC1 on 14 Mar 73 (according to a website dedicated to Pan's People, a dance troupe that was with Wendy on the same tour).

The actual tour itself appears to have taken place in mid- or late-1972. Ms. Richard devotes a page or two of her book to the show, noting it was held inside an aircraft hanger, and that she played an Egyptian handmaiden named Titty Fallar (presumably in one or more of Howerd's comedy skits).

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Funny Turns

On the evening of Sunday, 5 Dec 99 there was shown a program called Funny Turns - John Inman. I don't know any background about this show; that is, whether it was a one-off presentation, or one of a series, nor whether this was a new airing or a re-run. In any case, it was about John Inman's career, and close on the beginning, some of the other actors from Are You Being Served? appeared, talking about Inman. And of course, Ms. Richard was there too. Wearing a dark blue or a black jacket, she seemed quite serious, and she spoke very clearly and (it seemed) almost without an accent. She didn't say too much. One of her first comments was about AYBS?, when she noted that:

"When we started Are You Being Served?, it was originally written as a vehicle for Trevor Bannister, and John's character really took off."

Later, during a look at just what kind of character was Inman's Mr. Humphries, she commented that:

"With Mr. Humphries, it was just camp; I mean, I'm camp; I'm camp in real life. Miss Brahms was camp; so was Mollie's character..." [Webmeister's note: well, if that's true, then Wendy is high camp!]

A subsequent scene shows Inman talking while he sat at a bar (perhaps a pub or in a hotel) that looked quite stylish and light, and there were no other people around (maybe it was at Inman's house?). And Ms. Richard sat next to him, looking very intent, as she does when she is really listening to someone. Still later, she commented on how loved John was by his audience:

"I was walking along the street with him, and this little old lady was walking towards us, and her face, when she saw John, it just lit up, she was so pleased to see him. And it warmed my heart as well, I thought 'that's smashing!', you know, to have such affection from the public, from all age groups."

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Funny Women: Molly Sugden

Produced in 1998 this quasi-biographical show is a half-hour look at the career and personality of Molly Sugden, who co-starred with Wendy in Are You Being Served?. Of course, a number of her colleagues from that show, and others, are interviewed and talk about Molly.

With understated elegance, dressed in a dark jacket and Chanel of Paris T-shirt, Wendy appeared twice during the documentary. First she spoke of a trick she learned from Molly --

"Molly as Mrs. Slocum when she was getting cheek from Mr. Lucus or Mr. Spooner has a look that can freeze an ox at a hundred yards. And I've been practicing it, because now I'm Pauline Fowler, and I must admit I have used it a few times myself. But, no, she's absolutely brilliant and I think one of the eyes used to close slightly, and that was it . . . You knew . . . she didn't have to say anything . . ."

-- And then later commented on Molly's professionalism --

"I think the fact that we all got on so well together, and we thoroughly enjoyed what we were doing -- and I mean, Molly, bless her, is such a good sport, when you look at some of things they made her do, and some of the outfits . . . "

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Gameshow Marathon

Free since the end of 2006 from the constraint of EastEnders, Wendy afterwards appeared in numerous television shows.  One example was her participation on 5 May 07 in this nostalgia-based show produced by ITV.  The idea was to have celebrities play according to the rules of a number of venerable game shows of past days; indeed, evidently even recreating in faithful detail the sets of those old shows.  The programs resurrected were those such as The Price Is Right, Blankety Blank, and Name That Tune, as well as various others your webmeister has never heard of, but will take on faith must have been famous and well-loved at some time in the past.

ITV has a brief summary of the show, though this other article from Wikipedia describes it in much better detail, especially the second series of Marathon.  There is a bit of discrepancy:  the Wikipedia article notes that Wendy appeared in the portion of the show that recreated Name That Tune; whereas the Guardian Online reports that she played in the Price Is Right game.

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Generation Game, The

In late October, 1999, Ms. Richard. was featured on another popular game show called Jim Davidson's Generation Game. Hosted (not surprisingly) by Jim Davidson and Melanie Stace, the show is a guessing and activity game that sets various related pairs of contestants against each other. Although everyone I've talked to about it seems to consider the show silly and shallow, it apparently enjoys a good deal of popularity in the UK.

In this particular episode, one of the contests required the contestants to guess to whom a certain dog belonged. The celebrity owner would also give a 'hint' by way of a voice-over. Little Shirley Brahms II was the second dog to come walking on stage. Ms. Richard's could then be heard saying something like: "This is Miss Brahms. When I am at work, she makes a mess of Albert Square". More dogs appeared on stage. In an amusing turn of events, suddenly Shirley Brahms started barking and wouldn't stop! She just barked and barked! In the meantime, the contestants wrote down their guesses as to who owned the various dogs on stage. The first pair guessed that Shirley belonged to "Peggy Mitchell" (wrong!) But the second pair guessed correctly, after which Davidson, welcomed Ms. Richard on stage. Up to this point, Shirley had been barking, and now Ms. Richard apologized for her behavior a couple of times. Shirley stopped barking immediately when she was with Wendy again. I guess she got a bit nervous when she had to walk on stage with a strange man and stand among all thee other (much larger!) dogs.

Davidson noted that Ms. Richard had a lot to do with dogs, and Wendy then described that she was chairperson of the Cairn Terrier Rescue and she said that they rescued dogs from puppy farms and so on. The studio audience immediately all applauded for that! That was really nice of them and it made Ms. Richard smile from ear to ear. She thanked the audience and Davidson thanked her for coming to the show. Shirley Brahms II seems to be a very popular dog! And you can really see she means a lot to Ms. Richard.


Thanks to Anneloes for providing this report!

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Give Us A Clue

A celebrity charades game show that enjoyed a long run during the 1980s, Give Us A Clue was briefly resurrected in 1997 by the BBC. It was then, on 8 Dec 97, that Wendy joined host Tim Clark and regulars Julie Peasgood and Christopher Blake for a segment that also featured guests Jan Leeming, Patti Boulaye, Nicholas Parsons, Nick Weir and Bernard Cribbins.

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Gloria's Greats:  Wendy Richard

Hosted by Gloria Hunniford, this show was one in a series of biographical profiles which appeared on the, well, Biography Channel (a UK cable-only channel).  Aired for the first time on 26 Dec 06 it offered an remarkably positive and detailed look at Wendy's life and career.  Especially nice was the fact that the show brought Wendy back to a number of places from her childhood and school days.  Woven in with these visits are one-on-one chats with Hunniford, along with standard biographical information current right up to Wendy's decision to depart the long-running soap EastEnders in 2006.

The Biography Channel has a write-up on their website.  Not much there about the actual show, though it does contain a pretty-good summary of Wendy's work in TV and film.  Your webmeister will try to put together a more detailed description of Wendy's appearance as soon as possible.

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Good Morning Britain

The flagship offering of British morning television station TV-am (an ITV franchise), Good Morning Britain proved quite successful, running daily for about ten years beginning in 1983.  It featured hosts who are considered some of the most recognized names in British talk shows.

 In 1984 Wendy was invited onto one of the show's regular Friday segments entitled "Fantasy Time", which gave a celebrity the chance to assume some work or role of personal interest.  For her fantasy, Wendy spend a morning training at a fire station in east London.  Gratifyingly, this feature from the TV-am archives may still be seen as a video clip on YouTube, and it's delightful to watch.  Viewers should keep in mind that when Wendy seems to giggle nervously on the hydralic platform, it's not an act -- she has admitted at other times that she has "no head for heights at all"; nevertheless, Wendy soldiers on without complaint, appearing to thoroughly enjoy herself.  What a trouper!  A transcript is here for a brief interview portion with presenter Nick Owen back in the comfort of the studio.

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Grace and Favour

A sequel to the hit Are You Being Served?, this series picks up the adventures of the staff of Grace Brothers, though now they've been put out to pasture at an old country manor. Wendy again played Miss Brahms for the two seasons of the series. I must admit, this is perhaps the work of hers of which I'm most fond; indeed, its creator, Jeremy Lloyd, also counts it as one of his favorite series. True, the plots are still rather light and silly, but the scenery is pretty, and Ms. Richard did a remarkably fine balancing act of playing both aspiring manor lady and city girl displaced.

In a 1992 interview, Wendy commented on her reprisal of the role of Shirley:  "It was nice to wear expensive clothes for a change, even if walking through farmyard manure in high heels rather took the shine off things!"

That same year, she remarked for another article:  "When we did the first series I was acting in EastEnders as well, and it nearly killed me. Thankfully, this time, the BBC decided to pack Pauline off to New Zealand."

By the way, the show's title is a venerable English phrase that refers to a house or apartment that is provided rent-free by royal permission.  Perhaps because this allusion would escape most Americans, for the US release of the series it was unimaginatively renamed Are You Being Served, Again!

Rather astonishingly, Grace & Favour for the longest time was not available commercially on video tape or disk, and one's only option was bootleg copies of the series -- invariably of quite poor quality.  Happily though, in 2004 this changed and all 12 episodes of the show are now available in a 2-disk DVD pack, both in the US and UK.

The 1990s wing of the WRAP's Roles Gallery has some fine montage images of Wendy in G&F.

Factoid

One of Ms. Richard's former colleagues from EastEnders, Shirley Cheriton, worked with Wendy again in this series, playing Mr. Thorpe's secretary, Miss Prescott.

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Happy Birthday, EastEnders!

As part of the 15th anniversary string of EastEnders special presentations, this show featured a number of visits to Albert Square for interviews with various people. On the segment that aired in February of 2000 Wendy as well as Adam Woodyatt (Ian Beale on EastEnders) were interviewed by BBC presenter Gaby Roslin. The chat appeared to take place on the set of one of the Albert Square homes, around the kitchen table.

Ms. Richard was absolutely lovely; she looked really good and happy. When Roslin said that they were totally believable and that she loathed the character of Ian, Wendy was all defensive of Adam. She said to Woodyatt: "I love you. And Shirley loves you too!" Roslin went on to ask about a controversial event on a very recent episode where Wendy's character, Pauline Fowler, slapped Melanie Healy (played by Tamzin Outhwaite). Wendy said she actually hates that, slapping all the characters. But then the subject of the frying pan scene came up and Ms. Richard said: Oh yes! Wonderful! (so she possibly doesn't hate it that much).

Something else she and Woodyatt were asked was how they knew it was going to be a success. Ms. Richard said that it was a gut feeling. When she saw the set and the attention that had been paid to every little detail, she knew it wasn't just for five minutes. But she had no idea it was going to go on and on like it has. She also talked about someone named Dick, who was the gardener of the square and what a lovely job he did. How Julia Smith paid attention to every little detail. How Alison from the costume department was great. Wendy also said that EastEnders didn't take off right away, but she said you could tell by what the cab drivers would say to her. At first they said to her: "It isn't like the real East End at all". Later they said to her: "You know, I've got a mum just like Lou!" She thought that was wonderful. Later, Woodyatt was interviewed again about the new nanny that his character Ian has and Roslin said how nice Adam is in comparison to Ian. Woodyatt laughed about that and he said: did you notice how Wendy got all defensive over me?

A bit later in the show, the cast members were gathered around for a phone in. Someone asked about clothes. Ms. Richard talked about Alison again and how she always asks whether something is comfortable or not, because if something is not comfortable, you can't concentrate on the acting. And Wendy also made a joke about people asking her whether or not she had been to 'costume' already. "No, I always look like this!" Obviously, her way of dressing is very different from Pauline's way. But she was happy to announce that she had gotten a couple of new jackets and tops for Pauline. Someone asked her what she liked best about EastEnders. Ms. Richard said, that it was her job. She was in her fortieth year in the business (when she said this everyone on the set applauded) and she loved it. EastEnders was just a great place for her to work.

Then someone named Wendy called . . . with a question for Wendy, so that made everyone laugh. She asked whether anyone was going to replace Arthur. Ms. Richard said, in that way she has with words, that Pauline was going to be in a 'gentle romance' with Jeff Healy, and she said to Roslin:  "You are going to love this . . . I can't say anything else!" So that made everyone say "Aaaah". Then the Wendy on the phone said to Ms. Richard that she was very much like Pauline. Ms. Richard jokingly said:  "I hope you haven't been through so many problems as Pauline." But then the Wendy on the phone said that she actually had. Instantly, Ms. Richard's voice and expression changed and she said in a very caring way:  "I am sorry to hear that. Just hang in there and keep faith. Focus on the positive side." Which I thought was really lovely.

So that was it! Some interesting things. It was great to see her smiling so much on screen again.


Thanks, Anneloes, for providing this report!

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Harpers West One

An ATV network production, this soap opera was set in a large department store, Harper's, in London's affluent West End and evidently ran for 32 episodes (each an hour long) for two years or seasons between 1961 and 1963. I would speculate that the "West One" of the title refers to the "W1" postal code that covers the ritziest areas of Central/West London, and its setting softly foreshadowed Wendy's later role in Are You Being Served?

Wendy had a reoccurring role on the show as "Susan Sullivan, a receptionist in the offices of the department store". Her first episode was broadcast on Monday evening, 22 Oct 62, on Channels 9 and 10. I'm not sure exactly how long she remained with the show, though Wendy's book states: "we were doing HWO as my 21st birthday approached". Since she was 19 when she began, it seems likely she was with the series for the remainder of that second season, which finished in early 1963.

Factoid

Also appearing in Wendy's first episode was ubiquitous British actor Geoffrey Palmer (As Time Goes By, Tomorrow Never Dies, Fawlty Towers, and much more).

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Heaven and Earth Show

Ms. Richard's work outside of EastEnders was by no means limited to just tributes and game shows. This was verified by her all-too-brief appearance on BBC1's regular Sunday morning spiritual program entitled The Heaven and Earth Show, on 27 Feb 00. The show is typically an amalgam of pre-recorded one-on-one interviews and special guests and public phone-ins to ask counsel from a panel of spiritual and psychological advisors. It is described by the BBC as not so much a Christian program, but rather an offering of topics which encompass a wider definition of 'spiritual'.

Set in the relaxing environment of a bright up-scale restaurant dining room, the seven-and-a-half-minute interview (which was probably shot some time during the previous week) by BBC presenter Alice Beer allowed Ms. Richard to share some wonderful insights about her life and beliefs. Their chat began with an overview of her career, touched on her early years, and then covered her battle with breast cancer and the role of faith in helping her to weather that most difficult of crises. Wendy's demeanor was steady and professional throughout. Despite some Internet newsgroup observations to the contrary, she does in fact smile and show herself at ease several times during the segment; though, of course, while answering the most difficult questions, she became quite serious.

It was interesting to note the marked contrast between Ms. Richard's and Beer's respective appearance and style. Alice Beer seemed glaringly underdressed in comparison with Ms. Richard's casual elegance. Too, Beer's own speech and mannerisms came across as rather unpolished, distracting, and fidgety. Though that may be chalked up to the interviewer's relative inexperience, it did have a positive result of effectively leaving Wendy in control of the interview and to do most of the talking (which is what anyone tuning in to see her would have wanted anyway!).

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Here Comes The Queen

After completing her 22-year stint in EastEnders, Wendy didn't waste too much time getting back to work doing what she really liked; namely, light entertainment.  As she told the story, she called David Croft, writer of Are You Being Served?, and asked if he had anything in the works that she could try.  He did have, and around May 2007 Wendy filmed a pilot episode of this light-hearted comedy.  Set in the present time, it involves the intrigues surrounding Lila, an average middle-aged English working gal from Romford (a parish in East London), who is identified as heir to the long-lost throne of a certain southeastern European country.  The script was co-written by Jeremy Lloyd, and Wendy, in the title role, is joined by long-time friend and colleague Ian Lavender (Dad's Army, EastEnders, et al.).

Produced by Croft's production company, Worldwide Theatrix, the pilot has not been televised yet; at present (mid-2008) plans appear to be for it to be offered via the new Kangaroo (aka, Seesaw) online TV service.  The official promotion video for the possible series may be available for viewing at Croft's production company's website.

Factoid

The show was shot in and around the town of Bury St. Edmund, Suffolk, in east England.

Wendy is seen wearing long gorgeous hair, though it's a wig, unfortunately.  The style is very reminiscent of her earlier character of Miss Shirley Brahms -- and for good reason.  In an interview with The Mirror in April of 2007, Wendy said that:
". . . My character won't be glamorous because she is a lady of a certain age, but she will be smart.  She is Miss Brahms a few years down the line."

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HMS Paradise

According to TV Cream, this show was a television adaptation or version of "a top-rated BBC radio show The Navy Lark". Shot between 1964 and 1965, the series lasted for 26 episodes, according to a quite comprehensive BBC write-up on the series.

Wendy was a guest star on the show, possibly playing a character named Genevieve.  The series is not available on video.

Factoid

Frank Thornton (later of AYBS?) appeared as a regular in the series.

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Hogg's Back

According to Watched It, this was a "slapstick comedy series about a zany and absent minded professor". Evidently intended for the junior demographic, it ran for two years (and nineteen episodes) between 1975 and 1976. It was produced by Southern (ITV) and featured mid-point in the first season Ms. Richard as Pearl, Dr. Hogg's assistant.  Wendy was with the show for the last six episodes of the first series (broadcast in October and November of 1975).  She was preceded in the role by Jacki Piper; for the show's second season, the character was replaced entirely by another, played by Pat Coombs.

Not available on video.

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Holiday 2001

Wendy appeared in a short segment on this travel show on 10 Apr 01. Filmed in early February of this year, the show features Ms. Richard on a luxurious Caribbean cruise. Here is a transcript of her segment.  A condensed write-up of her cruise can also be seen on the Travel section of the BBC's website.

Overall, it was a well-done, tightly edited sequence. Wendy clearly enjoyed the experience and seemed to be in good spirits throughout. While this segment comes across more as an advertisement for the cruise line, that's more than made up for by being able to see Wendy outside her usual televised environs of Albert Square.

Other segments in this episode introduced Craig Doyle in Baha, Brazil, Scott Chisholm in Lyme Bay, and Dougie Vipond visiting Lanzarote, Spain.

Fan Moments

Ms. Richard in a "Cleopatra Milk Bath". 'Nuff said!

The purse she carries in one or two scenes on-board has a Union Jack motif. It appears to have also accompanied her to the British Soap Awards the next month in May.

She ends her cruise segment with a smile, wink, and statement that "....on this ship, there is no weakest link. Good-bye." This of course is meant to recall the signature closing used by Anne Robinson, host of the British (and now US) game show The Weakest Link. I suspect that this cruise segment was filmed shortly after Wendy's appearance on a celebrity episode of TWL.

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Holiday Memories, Celebrity

If you're a fan of British television travel programs, on 21 Sep 99 you might have seen the half-hour show Holiday Memories feature a trio of short spots: a Portuguese village (hosted by actor Richard Whiteley), Hawaii (hosted by model Marie Helvin), and the Island of Jersey (hosted by Ms. Richard). Needless to say, it is the latter which is of interest to us here. In her spot, Wendy introduced some of the island's main attractions and shared some reminiscences about her own visits many years ago to this small Channel Island that lays just a few miles off the coast of France.

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Houston PBS Interview

On 29 May 2003, Wendy did an interview in three parts at KUHT, Houston's public broadcasting station (and, incidentally, the first PBS station to go on the air in the US a half-century ago this year). The interview was in support of KUHT's be-annual fund drive, in-progress at this time. The station typically shows British comedies (including Are You Being Served?) on Saturday nights; however, because Wendy was committed to another event that evening, her interview was taped on Thursday the 29th, her first day in town.

Here is a transcript of the questions and answers (with my thanks to KUHT for sending me a videotape of Wendy's segments). The gentleman conducting the interview is Ernie Manouse, known to regular Channel 8 viewers as host of the Houston PBS program The Connection. He did a good job, asking the questions clearly and with polish. Wendy, dressed very casually in jeans and a white blouse, seemed generally at ease, and she actually appeared to loosen up a little as the interview progresses. She spoke about her characters and experience of course, but team player that she is, also made a firm point of mentioning David Croft's pivotal role in making many of her series such big hits.

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House Party, Noel's

Since 1991, this BBC production has been a wild variety show that, among other antics, sometimes involves putting well-known celebrities into amusing situations unaware, after which they receive "Noel's Gotcha Oscar". On 7 Feb 98, an installment was aired on BBC 1 which featured a segment with Ms. Richard and a hidden camera. . .

If you were fortunate enough to catch this bit of mischievousness, then you were treated to a delightful insight into Ms. Richard's 'off-camera' persona.


Thanks to Anneloes for providing many of the details!

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Hugh And I

General

A farcical and rather successful comedy from the BBC about two men in a lodging house. Ms. Richard played a minor supporting role as a neighbor to the two main characters. This was her first comedy series, which lasted about five years (1962 through 1966).

According to the show's producer/writer, David Croft, Wendy was a late addition to the cast, replacing actress Jill Curzon, apparently just before the series started to shoot.  He notes he'd heard Wendy on the radio singing Come Outside (the pop song she'd recorded in mid-year 1962) and that:

". . . I thought she looked smashing and I had her read Jill's part.  She didn't have acting experience but I thought she was a natural, so I took a chance and gave her the part.  . . . Wendy had something the audience liked, and as the weeks went by she blossomed."

Factoid

Mollie Sugden played the role of Wendy's character's aunt.

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It's Only TV, But I Like It!

Ms. Richard appeared as a guest contestant on this lively British TV knowledge game show in an episode which aired on BBC Channel One on 29 Jun 99.

The 30-minute show was hosted by Jonathan Ross and featured two panels of three celebrities each, who took turns answering questions related to British television series and personalities. Like many game shows in the UK, there were no non-celebrity contestants and no prizes to be won, only a bit of entertaining competition. The pace of the show varied considerably as it moved along through a number of contests: guessing what characters in short film clips were going to say next; choosing which one of a set of three 1970s talent show acts was still performing today; guessing the name of a television show based solely on descriptions by some senior citizens; guessing a TV show's title while wearing the faces of celebrities therefrom: and finally, filling in the blanks to some (presumably) well-known sayings of TV characters.

On one team was Wendy, along with actor John Leslie and camp comedian Julian Clary. Opposing them were comic Jack Dee and actors Richard Whiteley and Sarah White. The answers by the panels and the banter back-and-forth were often quite funny, though the jokes were nearly as often very off-color and risqué, with Ross (the host) and Clary being the worst offenders (or the most clever, depending on how you feel about that brand of humor). Indeed, early in the game Ms. Richard exclaimed "I can't believe he said that!" in response to a particularly vulgar joke by Ross that was a wordplay on the name for a certain type of brilliantly-colored South Asian parrot.

Ms. Richard looked lovely. With her blonde hair cascading about her shoulders, she was dressed sharply in a white blouse and patterned dark jacket bearing a large amber-colored brooch of indeterminate design. She appeared to be quite at ease with all the other guests and was a good sport who laughed at the jokes, even the ones now and then that were at her expense.

Two events during the show should be singled out for description. The first was as the elderly interviewees were describing a TV show personality. Ms. Richard said out-loud her answer, but failed to press her buzzer before speaking, inadvertently allowing Sarah White, from the opposing team, to beat her to the buzz by hardly a split-second. White gave Wendy's (correct) answer, thereby winning the point for White's team. Well, our favorite actress didn't take that lying down! Though technically in the wrong, she stood her ground as long as she could (Hear part of it -- 632K MP3 file), in almost Pauline-esque fashion.

The second moment occurred during the subsequent round when the opposing team was wearing funny cut-out faces, the identify of which were a secret from them, and they were asking questions of Wendy's team to find out who their faces were. As it turns out, they were wearing furry puppet characters from some children's show. And when Whiteley asked "Are we real-life people or....?", Wendy nailed the response perfectly (hear it -- 103K MP3 file) in word, tone, and expression: "You are, to some. . .".

The Clary-Richard-Leslie team won, 21 to 14.

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ITV Television Playhouse: The Wedding Dress

Early in her career, Wendy made a number of appearances on TV series that featured short, one-off productions; almost like televised stage plays.  The genre was popular back then, and many actors found roles in these shows -- some, even after becoming famous in movies or popular television.  David McCallum, Bernard Lee, Donald Pleasence, and Robert Shaw, to name a few, all appeared in ITV's playhouse series in the 1950s and -60s.

Wendy, 19 years old at the time, appeared on an eighth-season episode entitled The Wedding Dress, broadcast on Friday evening, 22 Feb 63.  The plot of the one-hour story is unknown, but at least one on-set photo exists of her.

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The Joy of Christmas

On 23 Dec 03 this 60-minute "exploration of the British family Christmas with all of its strange rituals and private passions" aired on BBC2. One of the featured guests was Wendy, who was joined by Nicholas Parsons, Nadia Sawalha, Michael Fish, Nina Wadia, Ainsley Harriot, Jilly Cooper, Laura McCree, Tony Blackburn and John Hegley. Narrated by Richard Briers. 

The show opens with a number of celebrities describing how they do -- or do not -- look forward to the holiday time of the year.  Wendy's contribution is perhaps the most sensible of the lot:

"I don't understand how people can get so worked up.  Just plan it properly, and there you are!"

As for what kind of tree she preferred:

"I tried a real one once, and [we're] still clearing up the pine needles, ready for the next Christmas; they're still there somewhere."

During the discussion of preparing the traditional Christmas meal, Wendy noted:

"I'm not a great a fan of men in the kitchen, and I think you get along far better on your own, because they always turn the gas up too high round the pots, you know, when you're cooking the vegetables."

And gifts . . . not to forget about gifts:

"I also collect frogs; I've got thousands of them, and I know there's always going to be a couple of frogs in amongst the gifts, anyway.  As for giving gifts, my partner John took up golf a couple of years ago, and so it's golf club covers, or I think last year it was two special golf clubs, a driver and some other thing; I don't know what it was, but it was very expensive . . .  You know, that sort of thing.  So I don't what I'm going to give him this year at all.  I think he's talking about wanting a different sort of golf club, but I'm not going down that road again; it's all too expensive."

And who's treated special during the holidays?

"My little dog Shirley, at Christmas and New Year, it is the only time Shirley also is allowed to sit at the table, and she gets a paper hat and her lunch served at the time we have ours.  We don't have turkey, sometimes it might be a meat dish, but with loads of different vegetables, and *always* with Yorkshire pudding."

Speaking of pudding . . .

"John doesn't like Christmas pudding, so I have to make him apple pie, but a friend of mine who makes her own Christmas pudding, she always makes sure I have an individual one, with at least two one-pound coins in, so that's nice."

About the Queen's annual speech:

"I think it's a shame that people don't take so much notice now; they should, because she's given her whole life to this country, and she has a message to give us every year.  At least give the lady the courtesy of listening to what she has to say."

While the show overall dwelt far too much on how the holidays were portrayed in various situation comedies, it nonetheless provided some charming insights into the memories and the likes and dislikes of well-known people.

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Just A Minute

Ms. Richard appeared numerous times on this televised version of the long-lived radio game show. I'm not quite certain yet of the details, but it appears she guested on at least six episodes of the show which were aired sometime during 1999.

For a description of the basics of Just A Minute and how the game works, see the write-up about the radio version of the show.

The following are links to transcripts of some episodes of Wendy's. These are external transcripts (on Dean Bedford's Just a Minute site). Though I wasn't certain when I first found these, Dean has assured me his JAM site is active and growing. Although the signal-to-noise ratio is a bit low overall, the transcripts do have some interesting insights about Ms. Richard, since she tended to speak about herself (experiences, likes and dislikes, etc.) when called on to talk on some random subject.

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King and Company

Produced by BBC Pebble Mill, each thirty-minute episode of this series follows three people (including one celebrity) as they accompany veteran wildlife photographer Simon King in finding and documenting birds and animals of Great Britain in their natural habitat.

The series began in late-June 1988; Wendy appeared in one episode (not the inaugural one) where she and King go on a trek in pursuit of -- what else? -- ground frogs.

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Kumars at No. 42, The

Well now, that was an interesting experience . . .

Envision a thirty-ish Indian lad, Sanjeev, who runs a talk show -- complete with live studio audience -- from one room of his parent's house. Further imagine the dynamics as his guests arrive for their spots on his show-within-the-show and receive the opportunity to interact with the rest of his family: father Ashwin (played by Vincent Ebrahim), mother Mudhuri (Indira Joshi), and his paternal grandmother Sushila (Meera Syal). That is the flavor of this rather refreshing BBC comedy show, on which Wendy appeared the evening of 26 May 02.

The half-hour episode featured Wendy, of course, as well as John Sergeant, a commentator and satirist who's widely known in the UK. Wendy was on first, and the show opened with Sanjeev fretting about how Mudhuri and Sushia were monopolizing her attention, and, worse, taking advantage of Wendy to get her to help them with the household chores!

Eventually, Wendy makes it out onto the talk-show stage, but Sanjeev can hardly get a question in edgewise, since the rest of family tags along out with her and innocently ask banal and tacky questions. Mudhuri complements her on her handbag and talks about Wendy's screen-son, Martin Fowler, almost as if he was a real person. This pretty much goes on for the rest of the show.

Fan Moments

Ms. Richard's reaction when Ashwin asked her offhandedly how much her MBE cost.

Actually, the whole show is a treat for fans. Although the production probably followed a general script, I've been told that Wendy's interaction with the Kumars was "totally ad lib". The way she handled her role as "straight man" to the comedy family -- with her manners, charm, and no lack of wits -- is well worth seeing.

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Life and Times of . . .

On 11 Dec 00, BBC One television aired a segment of Life and Times of . . . that featured an interview with Wendy by presenter Vanessa Feltz. Here is how the interview was described to me by a devoted fan:

"It was quite good! I was amazed at the questions that Vanessa Feltz was capable of asking. I always thought she was that typical airheaded presenter (that is how she usually is), but she wasn't this time, so that was good. She asked some pretty intelligent questions, and she wasn't afraid to ask until she had a real answer, but on the other hand she didn't push for answers either. I quite enjoyed it! There weren't many new things though, if you have read Wendy's book. But I did gain a little more insight, because I now saw the facial expressions that went with the stories. It was quite touching at times.

"They started by telling about her childhood and then Vanessa Feltz asked about her father's death. Ms. Richard talked about really being a child up to the age of 15 in those days; she didn't know about her father's depression. She described how they had to break up their home after her father died and that they had to put all their mother's furniture into storage, but a lot of the things got lost then and she felt that her mother was very sad about that. This led to the topic of the B&B (which Wendy and her mother ran for many years) and Ms. Richard said she ate so much bacon and eggs back then that she couldn't stand the sight of it for years!

"They then talked about Come Outside and about the earliest TV jobs. She also talked about the passing away of her mother and you could see how very emotional that was for her. She then talked about her first marriage. When Vanessa Feltz raised that subject, the first thing Ms. Richard said was: "Yes, that was a mistake!"  They also showed some pictures of that marriage. Ms. Richard said that at least this man got out of her life after the marriage was over and stayed out. When Vanessa mentioned that they married one day after the funeral of Ms. Richard's mother, it seemed almost as if Ms. Richard herself was shocked by that again herself. It seemed she really did not want to remember those days. She said that she thought she was lonely when she was in that marriage, but when it broke up she was even more lonely than before. She then quickly wanted to change the subject.

"They discussed Are You Being Served and showed a few clips of that as well. They talked about how the cast was so very close and how good David Croft was and how the show ended. Then they talked about her second marriage, again with pictures. Feltz asked about the violence in that marriage. Ms. Richard didn't really want to talk about that. Then Feltz mentioned that Wendy had also been on Kilroy (a morning talk show that sometimes addressed the issue of domestic violence) speaking about that, and how she (Wendy) said on that show that she understood why women stayed with a man that is violent. Ms. Richard replied that she did, but everyone is in a different situation, so you couldn't say what was best (or something to that effect). She really did not seem to want to talk about it.

"Feltz said that from reading Wendy's book, she understood it to be that Ms. Richard still had feelings for Will Thorpe (she didn't say it this quite this strongly, but that seemed to be what she meant). Ms. Richard said that she was just very sorry that things turned out the way they did; Will Thorpe was a very talented man and if things hadn't gone wrong they could have had a happy life together. Then the subject changed to her third marriage. Wendy said that her friends told her that Paul changed the moment she married him. And she said he did. She said that even now when he needed a bit of money, he would sell a story about her to the newspapers. She said that if he was so happy with his new wife, why couldn't he just live his life and let her live her own? While Wendy and Feltz talked about this, quite a lot of pictures were shown of newspapers with screaming headlines -- the most awful things.

"Then it was on to EastEnders. An early clip from the show was shown, and Wendy remarked about how it was so very secretive in the beginning and how awful that was for her, because she wanted to talk about it with friends, but she wasn't allowed to and she was afraid she was going to tell somebody. Feltz singled out a scene [in the late-1980s] in which Michelle [played by Susan Tully] said she was pregnant: was that one of Wendy's favorite scenes? Ms. Richard said it was, and that afterwards a lot of letters were sent to her from young girls who now dared to tell their mothers about their pregnancies and each girl hoped her mother was going to be as supportive as Pauline was in that episode. Feltz asked about her supposedly cold relationship with Bill Treacher [who played Arthur Fowler]. Ms. Richard said that they just had very different lives, so they didn't have much in common. But she said they had a great working relationship.

"Vanessa asked her whether she herself (Wendy) was easy or difficult to work with. Ms. Richard answered that she did not suffer fools gladly. Feltz asked about her relationship with EastEnders directors, to which Ms. Richard replied that she couldn't stand it when people say things like: "Your motivation is . . .". She said that there is no one who knows Pauline better than she does. She also said she informs new directors that she could not walk and say lines at the same time; that she forgot her lines when she has to do something with a prop and that if they move the props she is going to fall over them. (I really don't know whether she mentioned this as a joke or not.) Wendy noted that the new directors just say very nicely that she should stand behind the counter of the launderette and do nothing. They showed a clip of Pauline standing behind that counter. Then Vanessa asked about her fruit bowl. Ms. Richard started laughing and said that it was a joke between her and the camera men. She would see them talk about moving the fruit bowl (to get better shots?) but as soon as someone walked over to move it, she would immediately put her hand on it and tell them not to!

"Feltz asked about the future of EastEnders; whether Wendy thought it was going to be around much longer. Ms. Richard said that it would probably go on forever. Vanessa then asked whether she was going to stay with EastEnders. Wendy replied that she did not want to out-stay her welcome, but she wanted to remain with the show for as long as they wanted her there. She also said that she was surely going to stay until October 2001, because until then she is under contract.

"Feltz raised the subject of Wendy's bout with breast cancer and they showed some newspaper articles about it. But Feltz quickly jumped to the subject of Wendy's partner, John Burns, which I thought was very nice of her. Wendy talked about now having found a real partnership. And of course, Shirley Brahms The Second was a topic of discussion too.

"Finally, the interviewer asked Wendy whether she felt sorry that she'd never had children. Ms. Richard replied simply that it just wasn't to be. She is the sort of person who likes to fuss over somebody, so that is why she was so happy with Shirley. She always finds someone to fuss over though (at work, etc.). But if she had had children, she would have wanted them to have the best schooling and the best of everything, and her financial situation was not always such that she could afford that at all. The subject turned back then to little Shirley Brahms and how she thinks she is a person. How she sits at the table at Christmas and New Year (because John's children want that) and has her own paper hat on!

"Dressed in a brown suit, Wendy wore a gold-colored brooch of a terrier (not specifically a cairn terrier, I think). Also, she was wearing a very dark nail polish! Really cool!"


Thanks, Anneloes, for providing this report!

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The Likely Lads

This show, shot in black and white, was a 1960s sitcom which reappeared in the 1970s as Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads?. Written by Dick Clement, it's about two young men Bob Ferris (Rodney Bewes) and Terry Collier (James Bolam) from the North of England who are close friends and typical bachelors sharing an apartment. Terry's the fiery extrovert, while Bob's outlook is more phlegmatic. Terry's sister, Audrey (Sheila Fearn), is a recurring secondary character. I'm told that the series is set in or around Newcastle. For some excellent historical information about the series, the MBC website has a very good write-up.

Wendy evidently appeared in but one episode, first broadcast on 7 Jul 65, entitled Last of the Big Spenders. (Interestingly, it was considered lost for many decades and only now, 36 years later, has come to light again.) She plays "Lynn", a sales assistant for a cleaning supply company. With her friend Angela (Wanda Ventham), she goes out with the lads for an expensive night on the town.

The plot involves the lads' eyes falling on two comely sales girls who are up from London making a pitch for various cleaning supplies. Smitten with them, the lads purchase great quantities of goods, but fail at first to get a date with the girls. They make another attempt, first trying to borrow some money from Audrey -- with predictable result -- and do succeed in setting up an evening out with Angela and Lynn.

The lads, who are by no means well-to-do, misrepresent themselves somewhat by arranging to meet the girls in an up-scale hotel. This leads the girls to the predictable conclusion that Bob and Terry's pockets are crammed with money and they suggest to the boys one expensive meal-and-entertainment proposition after another. First, it's a posh restaurant out in the country, and then to a casino for games, the lads of course paying all the way. Bob and Terry finally draw the line at bowling and an early breakfast and when they meet two other blokes from work, they take the opportunity to foist off onto them the two golddiggers, who hardly miss a beat.

Overall, the show is amusing and pleasant, mirroring the generally gentle and unsophisticated nature of sitcoms of that time (on both sides of the Atlantic). Other than for being her usual cute self, Wendy's performance was fairly undistinguished, mainly because she's the sidekick to Ventham's primary character. Wendy's switch back and forth between her posh salesgirl accent and the character's "normal" London speech, is worth hearing, though here it is played straight rather than for laughs as would be the case in Are You Being Served? a decade later.

A nostalgia bonus for British viewers forty years old and over is the show's reminder of the old (pre-1970) English monetary system, with its 'bobs', 'shillings', 'crowns', and 'thruppence'. Also, the ubiquitous Austin Mini, in its van form, figures prominently. On the downside, I wonder if the miking of the sets was inadequate, since the dialogue is at times quite muddy and hard to follow (the fairly thick regional accents aside).

The BBC has a web page remarking on the rediscovery of this episode and also provides a short video clip of low quality in which Wendy has a few lines. There's also a BBC news story from May, 2001 about the re-discovery of the episode which provides another photo of Wendy with the lads.

Happily, Wendy's appearance is included in the 2006 release to DVD of the half-dozen surviving Likely Lad episodes (BBC DVD 1879; ISBN: 014503-187927).

Factoid

Actress Wanda Ventham is probably four or five years older than Wendy. After Likely Lads, she went on to a very productive screen career, including appearances four years later co-starring in the sci-fi series UFO as Colonel Virginia Lake.

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Lilly Savage Show, The

About all I presently know about this production is that it's a variety show hosted by outrageous personality Lilly Savage (aka Paul O'Grady). Wendy was a guest on this show (either on 28 September 2001 or sometime in December 2001), which was actually broadcast live! A couple of screenshots are here.

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London Wall, The (ITV Play of the Week)

In her book Wendy included just a single remark about this show. I can pin down her appearance only to sometime between 1965 and 1968, since Rediffusion disappeared as a discrete television production entity in that latter year.

"I worked with James Bolam [from The Likely Lads] again when I took the part of an office worker in a TV play for Rediffusion called The London Wall, in which Helen Cherry and Jane Asher also appeared."

. . . But having originally said the above, it appears the play was among those produced for the series by Rediffusion for ITV in 1963.  Wendy played the part of Miss Bufton, and her show aired on 4 Nov 63, which would have made it part of the series' ninth season.

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Making of Jericho, The (Play of the Month)

A one-off drama piece presented on 20 Dec 66, this was the third installment of season 2 of the BBC series Play of the Month, according to the excellent Classic TV Archive website.  The show was a 90-minute long programme, taped in black-and-white.

I'm still researching Wendy's role in the show; she's not listed as a primary cast member.

Factoid

This particular play also starred John Thaw, later to become much better known on both sides of the Atlantic as Inspector Morse, in the detective show of the same name.

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Marple:  A Pocket Full of Rye

One in a long series of screen adaptations of Agatha Christie mystery stories, this particular installment, produced by ITV, was released in the UK on 6 Sep 09.  Oddly, it had actually been filmed more than a year earlier, and already shown in many other markets by the time of its presentation on British television.  Even a DVD collection for the season (season 3) was for sale before the episode was aired in the UK.

Wendy played the supporting role of Mrs. Crump, the gruff household cook and wife of the butler.  It was her last dramatic role before the worsening of her illness in late 2008.

Factoid

Playing Mr. Crump, the butler, was veteran actor Ken Campbell.  By sad coincidence, this was also his last role; he passed away in early August of 2008, shortly after filming had been completed.

Venerable actress Prunella Scales makes a very undestated appearance too.

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My Favorite Hymns

A one-hour "religious music series" that airs each Sunday on ITV at mid-day, the program is structured as a one-on-one interview, interspersed with performances of four or five of the guest's, well, favorite hymns. A second unrelated segment of the show features a sermon, additional music, and prayer requests. On 11 January 2004, the show became the second spiritual talk show that Wendy guested on in the past few years (though the show was actually taped shortly before Christmas, 2003). As in the first one she did (Heaven and Earth in 2000), she provided here a remarkable and dignified look at her personal life and beliefs.

The host this time around, John Stapleton, did an exceptionally good job of guiding the discussion, and his style almost gives the interview the homey feeling of a casual conversation, which was probably a positive aspect, given the very personal -- and occasionally difficult -- subject matter. The interview (transcript is here) ranged over a number of topics, many of which Wendy had spoken about on other shows -- though perhaps not quite to this detail. Overall, an excellent piece, well worth catching for any Wendy fan who wishes to better understand this subtle and complex lady.

The hymns Wendy chose are probably well known to Britons, though not all may be familiar to Americans. Each shares a common theme of hope and praise, with some of the pieces dedicated as well to love of homeland. The works were performed by a number of choral groups: Amici, the Maia Singers, and St. Ann's Church Choir (which I suspect is associated with St. Ann's Church in Manchester, the city in which My Favorite Hymns is produced).

  1. Hallelujah: this being of course the famous chorus of that name from G.F. Handel's masterpiece oratorio The Messiah.
  2. Swing Low, Sweet Chariot: it may seem odd to hear this American Southern spiritual named, but as Wendy noted during the interview, Chariot is not at all unknown in the UK, being closely -- though unofficially -- associated with English rugby. And while she'd be the first to acknowledge she's not at all a sports fan, she does support rugby as a point of national pride.
  3. Jerusalem: this is a piece known by a number of names, including "And Did Those Feet In Ancient Times" and "The Glastonbury Hymn". Written by William Blake as a poem in the early 1800s and set to music a century later, the work is about as English as they come, recalling a lovely, though apocryphal, story of Christ's travel to the "green and pleasant land" of England. Interestingly, this article by the BBC from 2003 notes the hymn is a strong contender to become the official English national anthem.
  4. Immortal, Invisible: a straightforward song of praise.
  5. I Vow To Thee, My Country: a majestic hymn in praise of country and of dedication, it is sung to the tune of the middle section of the Jupiter movement from Gustav Holst's suite The Planets. Considering Wendy's mention of Princess Diana, it is interesting to note that this hymn is said to have been a favorite of the Princess' as well, and was played at both her wedding and her funeral.

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The Newcomers

One of the BBC's many attempts to emulate the success of the quite successful Coronation Street, this early British soap opera ran from 1965 to 1969 and chronicled the experiences of a three-generation London family who have exchanged their familiar urban life for a new one in the fictitious rural English town of Angleton. The show was done in B&W, and was initially broadcast live.

In 1965, The Newcomers became Ms. Richard's debut dramatic television role; she played a rebellious teenager named Joyce Harker (a Cockney, of course!) twice a week through at least three years of the series (though in her book, she seems to imply that she was with the show for its entire life-span of '65 through '69).

There's a pretty good general write-up of the series at TV Gold.

Factoid

Also making appearances in this series very early in their TV careers were English actresses Jenny Agutter and Judy Geeson.

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No Hiding Place

Yet another British police dramatic series, this one was produced by ITV, was shot in black-and-white, and ran from 1959 to 1967. Interestingly, it seemed to be a spin-off from 1959's show Crime Sheet, which in turn was a spin-off of 1957's Murder Bag. In all of these shows appeared the primary character of Detective Chief Superintendent Tom Lockhart (played by Raymond Francis).

Still looking into Ms. Richard's role. I think she appeared fairly early in the series' run, sometime between 1960 and 1962.  Unfortunately, a great many episodes of this series are considered lost.  Let's hope for the best . . .

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Nolan Live

This is a talk and interview television show hosted by Ulsterman Stephen Nolan, who also does a frequent radio show for the BBC.  In Dec 08 he had Wendy as a guest; an appearance which, due to her advancing illness, was to be the lady's last.

Wendy on "Nolan Live" show

As befitted the season, Wendy wore a festive red mantel, trimmed in white, draped over her shoulders.  She looked quite frail, but was still as charming as ever. As of December 2009, a video of her interview is still available on the BBC News website.

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Not On Your Nellie

A production from London Weekend Television which ran for three seasons between 1974 and 1975 (for a total of perhaps seventeen episodes). It featured a character named Nellie Pickersgill (played by the late Hylda Baker) from Bolton, Lancashire (in the northwest of England) who moves to London to work at her father's pub, The Brown Cow.  The series, based on a stage play of the same name, seems to have been meant as a vehicle to showcase the comedy talents of Ms. Baker, an established movie and TV actress at the time.  A lady very slight in stature, but large in character, in Not On Your Nellie Baker was a veritable font of malaprops, double-meanings, and slapstick humor.  Interestingly, one can see many parallels between the comedy styles of Baker and of that other Northern comedienne, Molly Sugden (from Are You Being Served?).

Ms. Richard appeared in all six episodes of the second season --

"Brief Encounter"
"High Society"
"Requiem for a Heavyweight"
"Do Unto Others"
"The Lady with the Lamp"
"Feeling the Draught"

-- playing barmaid Doris.  (She replaced the first season barmaid Beryl, played by Alexandra Dane, and was succeeded in the third by 'Big Bertha', played by Sue Nicholls).  Wendy played her character fairly straight, and actually she seemed to almost invariably be the best dressed person in each of her scenes.  Here's a publicity still from the episode "Requiem for a Heavyweight", which was first transmitted on Friday, 7 Mar 75.  A modest assortment of caps can also be seen here in the 1970s Gallery.

For the longest time, this show has been out of circulation apart from reruns on television in the UK.  However, in 2008 all three seasons of the show were issued on DVD as PAL format, Region 2 (what does that mean?).  Seasons 2 (Wendy's) and 3 are in the same volume:  part number 7952833, UPC 027626-283346.

Factoids

Wendy actually did work as a barmaid in real life during the late 1960s and early 1970s to supplement her income as an actress.

Sue Nicholls, who played the barmaid at The Brown Cow during the third season, has a couple of things in common with Wendy other than the same birth year.  First, she has also been a long-running actress on a popular British soap opera (Coronation Street); and she also released a pop song that charted in the UK.  Named Where Will You Be, the tune was from a show she was appearing in at the time and it actually reached #17 on the charts in 1968.

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On the Buses

A situation comedy revolving around the adventures of a bus driver and his conductor. It ran for a number of seasons from about 1969 through 1973 for a total of 74 episodes divided into six series. Steve over at the On The Buses Fan Club tells me that Ms. Richard appeared in a Series 5 episode Busman's Ball, which first aired on 24 Oct 71. In her autobiography, Wendy referred to appearing in "episodes" (plural) of this series -- I suspect she was thinking of this episode and the movie collectively.  The TV show was produced by independent LWT (London Weekend Television).

Wendy graces the screen in Busman's Ball for less than a minute as Elsie, a clippie [a female bus conductor]. She comes into Inspector Blake's office to ask him about a routine matter and finds on his desk a picture of a female stripper (who the lecherous Stan and Jack want to have perform at the upcoming Busman's annual dance). She draws the wrong conclusion about the straight-laced Inspector ("Oooh, so you're one of those! Fancy . . . !"), causing him exasperation and embarrassment, to the delight of the on-looking Stan and Jack.

Wendy delivered her lines very smoothly. As briefly as she was on-screen, the style she gave Elsie is not too unlike that which she would use within the year for Anne Scott in the movie Gumshoe.

This episode can be found in NTSC format VHS video in a three-tape set of six episodes. The set is of Canadian manufacture and the ISBN is 0-7733-5191-4.  More recently, nearly of the seasons of the show are now available on DVD as PAL format, Region 2 (what does that mean?).  Look for Wendy in episode #6 in the fifth season collection (part number 7952483, UPC 027626-248345.

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Other Half Celebrity Special

With the possible exception of a millennium-related event, a program that aired on 27 Dec 99 featured Ms. Richard's final appearance for the year. That ubiquitous BBC host Dale Winton presented what was billed as a "celebrity edition" of a popular quiz show, the format of which is centered around guessing who belongs to whom. Appearing on the show this day were Ms. Richard, Adam Woodyatt (Ian Beale of EastEnders), Kris Akabusi (MBE, Olympic medallist), Jenny Powell (UK actress), Paul Ross (UK TV presenter), and Sherrie Hewson (Coronation Street's Maureen Elliott). Wendy and Adam were teamed together, as were Akabusi and Powell. The final two, Ross and Hewson, were to be the subject of the guesses (as to who their partners were).

After the introductions by Winton, Paul Ross came on accompanied by all his female "partners". Wendy and Adam had to guess which one of the women was his real partner. The two actors were given clues and allowed to ask questions, and they were even shown a short tape of Winton wandering around inside Ross's house.

The team from EastEnders made short work of the mystery partners. Adam had seen a Spanish course book lying on a table, and asked one of the candidates to say something in that language, which she was unable to do to his satisfaction. Wendy asked one of the other women something about the wine that was in the kitchen of the house. She gave a wrong answer, which would seem to eliminate her claim. In the end, Wendy and Adam guessed it was a German woman and they were right! Wendy's comment was: "Do I get a checkbook and pen now?" This got the audience laughing, because everyone knew those are the prizes you get as a contestant on the Blankety Blank show. Of course, the show wasn't over yet; Wendy and Adam simply moved to the semifinal phase.

Then it was Akabusi and Powell's turn to guess who Hewson's spouse was. Unfortunately, they guessed wrong, which led Hewson and her spouse to the semifinal phase, too.

Then Adam and Hewson's partner stood next to a buzzer and turned with their backs to the ladies. Winton asked a question and if the men at the buzzers thought their partner knew the answer, they had to buzz. Wendy handled this well, brightly answering both questions correctly, putting Adam and her through to the final contest.

For the finale there were three pairs of men and women who said they were couples, but only one pair of them really were. First, the men told the celebrity contestants something about their "partners". Then the women had their turn to say something about the men. After that, Wendy and Adam had to assign either the M25, 1000 Pounds or a luxury holiday with each of the couples. Now, the M25 is the equivalent of the booby prize, and if a guesser assigns it to a couple, and that couple turns out to be bonafide, then the guessers would have to take a trip around the M25 (the main ring highway around London). If they placed 1000 Pounds with the correct couple, the couple would receive that amount of money. If they placed the holiday with the correct couple, the lucky couple would win that holiday. To that, Wendy said, "But then what happens with the thousand Pounds?" Winton said "Nothing".  "Oh . . . only I thought we got that then", replied Wendy, who, with Adam, then proceeded to pick the right couple anyway!

Overall, Ms. Richard seemed very relaxed during the show. She appeared to play on her traditional TV personality of a naive woman -- until she could get a chance to make an unexpected and witty remark. Her timing really seemed impeccable, and that huge contrast always makes people laugh.


Thanks, Anneloes, for providing this report!

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Pardon The Expression

This gentle comedy from Granada Television was a spin-off from the long-running British soap opera Coronation Street.  The series comprised two seasons of 30-minute black-and-white shows.  It featured Arthur Lowe as a bumbling manager of a department store, in a role that somewhat foreshadowed his later and much better known character of Capt. Mainwaring of the Home Guard in Dad's Army.  The Coronation Street wiki website has a page with more general details about Pardon The Expression.

Wendy appeared in one second-season episode entitled "Rustle of Spring", that was first broadcast on 25 Apr 66.  Her scene occurs about seven minutes into the show.  She plays a young woman sitting on a bench in Granville Park with a poodle on her lap.  Lowe's character, out for a stroll, sits beside her and complements her dog.  They chat for a minute, establishing that he would like to find a canine companion as well, which then sets up the rest of the episode as a comedy of misunderstanding between him and a lovelorn Scots girl (played delightfully by the late Fanny Carby) who has her eye on him.

For a short scene early in her career, Wendy does a good job.  She times her lines well and speaks clearly, although she seems a little restrained in demeanor.  Her short hairstyle and outfit in the fashion of the Sixties are a treat to see; indeed, they're a good indication of Wendy's actual appearance in those days.  These were probably her own clothes, as one may see her wearing the same blouse, dress, and boots in other photos from 1966 unconnected with the show.

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Pebble Mill and EastEnders

On 13 Feb 95 BBC1 presented an episode of what I think was a regular "magazine programme" called Pebble Mill, after the name of the BBC's Birmingham studio. The Radio Times magazine for that week had this to say about the show:

"On Sunday 19 February, EastEnders is 10 years old. Today's Pebble Mill celebrates a decade of Albert Square drama, as veterans Bill Treacher and Wendy Richard (Arthur and Pauline Fowler) tell Alan Titchmarsh about life in Walford. A location report reveals romantic complications for the younger set, and there's a host of birthday greetings from stars of rival soaps."

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Please, Sir

A British comedy series (described as a "noisy sitcom") which ran for four years and 55 episodes between 1968 and 1972. It seems to have been concerned with the adventures of a young teacher at Fenn Street Secondary Modern school in London's rough East End. Produced by independent LWT (London Weekend Television).

Wendy appeared in a fourth series episode entitled "Pruning of Hedges" that was produced in 1971, being shown first on 22 Sep 71. She played the part of Rita, the governor's, ahem, "niece" and made three short appearances during the episode (thanks, Charles, for the info!). Here is a montage of images from the show.  The Art Page has a cute wallpaper (#9) also based on Wendy's scene.

Here is a sampler set of some of Wendy's lines:

Happily, a number of seasons of this show have been recently (2008) issued on DVD as PAL format, Region 2 (what does that mean?).  Look for Wendy's marvelous performance in episode #2 of disc #1 of the Fourth Series volume.  Part number 7952745, UPC 027626-274542.

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Post Office Insurance (advertisement)

In the UK, the "post office" is far more than just a place to mail letters and buy stamps (though they do that, too).  Rather, it is a one-stop destination for telephone, internet, government, and travel-related services, not to mention life insurance.  And it's in connection with the latter that Wendy made an appearance on television in a short 30-second advertisement in early 2007.

In the sketch, Wendy appeared as a human cannonball, propelling herself into and out of the office with much noise and debris.  The reason for her visit is of course to buy insurance, with which the desk clerk is most willing to assist her.  Interestingly, as she's about to depart, Wendy says she'll "give it a try" -- which happened to be the name of a pop song she did in 1986 with Mike Berry.  Coincidence?  You decide . . .

This was possibly the first work Wendy did after finishing with EastEnders in late 2006 and then taking a short vacation.  The advert is available for viewing on YouTube.

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A Question of EastEnders

General

As a one-off effort, the BBC presented a special game show within the plethora of programs celebrating the 15th anniversary of the dramatic serial EastEnders. Broadcast on 15 Feb 00, the quiz show was hosted by the ubiquitous BBC presenter Gaby Roslin, and pitted two teams against each other in a contest of EastEnders' trivia and recognition.

Wendy, impeccably dressed in a fuchsia jacket over a low-cut sparkling black dress (or blouse), was captain of one team. Her two teammates were Katy Hill, a presenter for the children's show Blue Peter, and Harry Hill, a rather irritating stand-up comedian who seemed more interested in saying funny things than in helping Ms. Richard win the game. Complicating Wendy's task further was a formidable opposing team: Adam Woodyatt and Michelle Collins, both veterans of the EastEnders cast, joined by semi-celebrity Jeremy Spake (who became famous after starring in a "docu-soap" about Heathrow Airport). The set where the teams competed was sparse, but did include a live studio audience sitting in the background beneath subdued lighting.

Game Rules and Score Results

The competition consisted of a series of rounds.

The first round was identifying ambiguous or humorous pictures of other EE cast members. After a rough start, Wendy's team got three in a row, ending up in a tie with Woodyatt's team at six points all. The second round was identifying in which year a certain collection of video clips were from. Wendy's mates failed to come to her rescue, and it was Woodyatt's team who clinched both years, thereby pulling ahead 10 - 6. The Wendy team rallied after that with some correct answers about the Fowler household, but faltered on the difficult final question which relied on knowing who lived in which house on the Square, leaving the score 12 - 8. Round Four obliged the teams to guess which cast member was being described by three different, yet connected, sets of video clips. This was easily aced by both sides, raising the scores to 14 - 10. The next round featured two disguised 'mystery guests' shown to the teams as video clips of the actors in real life. Both teams guessed right, and the scores jumped to 16 - 12. Round Six continued with the humorous pictures, and here a run of particularly tough choices caused Wendy's team to fall behind even further, the scores ending up as 26-14, with only one round to go. Things went from bad to worse in the final round which required the teams to buzz-in first with the answer to a rapid-fire series of questions asked by Roslin. Woodyatt was very fast on the buzzer and nearly shut out Wendy's team, managing unfortunately to leave them in the dust with a final score of 36 - 16.

Fan Moments

The first was during the "identify this picture" round, Ms. Richard looked at the screen about eight meters across the stage from her and said, almost to herself, out loud: "I wish somebody had told me about this; I'd have brought my glasses". Roslin replied "You can get up and have a closer look . . ." Wendy declined to do so.

Later, when her team failed to answer the "house number" question and the question went to Woodyatt's team, whose captain asked whether "you [Pauline] live at 47 or 43?", Wendy actually answered him, "I can't remember. . ." before she was stopped by her teammates from helping Woodyatt any further. Spake, in jest, then asked her: "how many years have you lived there, Wendy?" To which she replied: "I always go out the back door; we don't use the front door!", which got quite a laugh.

Finally, during the video connection round, her team saw Grant and Phil Mitchell ending up in the Thames, a woman who has won some sort of beauty contest, and an interview with American actor Warren Beatty. Wendy didn't seem to hesitate to guess "Barbara Windsor" as the connection between those, which appeared to astound the opposing team. Roslin asked her to explain, and she did quite matter-of-factly (Windsor plays Grant and Phil's mother; she also won that same beauty contest many years ago; and, in Wendy's words: "she says she [Windsor] knew Warren Beatty"). Roslin then said "she said she turned him down. . ." Wendy didn't answer, but the expression that played out on her face seemed to be saying a lot!

Conclusion

Overall, A Question Of EastEnders was a run of the mill game show and would probably have limited appeal to anyone not versed in EastEnders trivia and lore. But it did reward Wendy-fans with some delightful and interesting moments.

The episode is available on YouTube as a series of video clips:

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