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Television Details (R through Z)


Rainbow

This show, produced by Thames Television, was a popular preschool-age program which ran primarily from 1972 to 1992. On 7 Nov 78 Wendy appeared as a guest, reading a children's story, possibly about wild animals.

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Ready, Steady, Cook!

On 15 Feb 99, an installment of this show was aired by the BBC which featured Ms. Richard as guest assistant cook. This was almost certainly a repeat of the show taped and first shown sometime in 1997.

The format of Ready, Steady, Cook is that two teams compete against each other cooking against the clock using only a limited range of grocery items. Each team consists of a bona-fide chef and an assistant (sometimes, as in this case, celebrities). A host (Fern Britton) sets the rules and provides commentary during the cook-off. If this sounds vaguely familiar to US viewers, it is the format used by the show's American clone Ready, Set, Cook (hosted by Sissie Biggers) which appears regularly on the Food Network cable channel.

And now I'll turn the podium over to Wendy-fan Anneloes for the details:

"The Celebrity Ready Steady Cook was the one with Wendy Richard and Todd Carty [on the opposing teams]. She was just clowning around and she was obviously stealing the show. The chef [Tony Tobin] that had to cook her ingredients was a bit irritated at that at first I think. She thought that that was quite funny so then she made jokes about him [to wind him up even more]. But she did make it up I think, because in the end they [got along] okay. It was really funny to see.

"They announced her with: 'And here is the first lady of Walford: Wendy Richard!'. The hostess of the show said that she heard Wendy was very good at cooking at home. Wendy answered:  'ME? I am wonderful! I cook everyday . . . I am also very modest.'  So she already had the audience laughing. She then got her ingredients out of the bag and as she got out some sort of cake she said:  'I ate the corner earlier on.'  She also 'sampled' the cream, because she had never bought that brand of cream before. The hostess then announced Todd Carty and asked him to say 'hi' to his soap-mom. Britton asked Carty how long they (he and Wendy) had been working together. Carty responded that it wasn't the 14 or 15 years which Britton guessed, and Wendy corrected her, saying 8 or 9 years and then paying Carty a handsome compliment:  'I've got the best son in EastEnders!'  That got Todd blushing. Then the hostess said to [Wendy's] chef that the raspberry coulis was 'out', the thing now was raspberry sauce. Then Wendy said:  'I just told him that! . . . He hasn't spoken to me since!'

"After a while Britton went to take a look at what Wendy was doing. She was grating something that looked like a lemon. She looked humorously weary and said:  'I am bored to tears with this already!' Then the hostess said something like: 'Watch your nails'. Wendy's reply:  'You're quite right. If I break a nail I shall need extra oxygen!' . . .

"Later, Britton said that she heard Wendy cooked for herself every day: each breakfast and dinner. Wendy said she's a great believer in . . . a good breakfast. After a while, the hostess was watching Wendy's chef and asked something about the peaches, and Wendy was walking around behind them and said:  'I have eaten it!' The hostess continued to talk to the chef as [the camera caught] Wendy eating a bit of peach looking like she was going to laugh any minute. Then back to the hostess and the chef again as the audience cracked up, and a bit later again a shot of Wendy eating another bit of peach. The chef remarked: 'She's hungry'.

"A few minutes later, the hostess checked on Wendy again. She was painting [webmaster: actually, brushing] roses with egg white and some pink glazing or something. Wendy said:  'He's found all the best jobs for me!' again with the funny bored look. The hostess asked what she had done with the strawberries. Wendy cracked up and said:  'Stuck some mints in the ends.'  Later, she could be seen complimenting the chef continuously. And she went:  'OH , QUICK!!' when [they were down to the last] two minutes on the clock.

"When the time was up and her chef had completed their dish, Wendy said:  'Well done!' and hugged and kissed him. The camera cut to the other team (Todd Carty and his chef) for about 20 seconds, and then switched back to Wendy and she was still kissing and hugging the chef! When asked what he called his creation, her chef said it was 'Fowler's Fancy Fruit Cake' [webmaster: recipe is recorded on recipe-cookie.com, a sub-site of chef2chef.com]. Then he had to tell how he made it. He started off by saying: 'When I got to stop Wendy eating the peaches . . .' Then Wendy said:  'There's no need to be like that; I only ate one . . .' (She meant one whole peach.) '. . . and one cake!'  Then she sampled the dish.  'Tell you what: this is absolutely lovely' and 'It's lovely, well done.'

"As it turned out, her team actually won [the audience, in a show of hands, decides who they think did the best job] and so again [there are] kisses and hugs [for] the chef. The hostess asked her to what charity she was going to give the money she won, and Wendy said:  'Yes, I am going to send this thousand pounds to Dogs for the Disabled. The dogs help people with . . . all sorts of . . . disabilities. It costs 5000 [pounds] for one dog, so I am going to send it off [for] one dog.'  And as the show wound down, the teams sampled each other's food. And that is the end."

A number of installments of Ready, Steady, Cook appear to be available on PAL-format videotape in the UK, but it's pretty safe to say that Ms. Richard's appearance is much too recent to be included on any of these.


Thanks, Anneloes, for providing this report!

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Sammy Meets the Girls

I think this show, filmed in black & white in 1960, was intended as a one-off musical production by ATV. It was shot while Sammy Davis Jr. was in London for some live stage work. Wendy was still attending drama school at the time. In her book, she described in detail how she got on the show, which was her very first television appearance. In a recent interview, she noted she was about 16 or 17 at the time.

She appeared as one of the many glamorous girls spaced widely around Davis as he sings. Each of the models is dressed differently; one is decked out in tennis kit, another in hat and coat appears ready to walk a dog. Her hair put up, Ms. Richard is dressed neatly in a dark skirt and white blouse, and she holds a pen and pad, as if poised for secretarial work.

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Search, The

Shown on BBC1, an installment of this show aired on 2 Aug 00 which included an appeal by Wendy. Late in 1999 she lost some items of great sentimental value. She appeared on The Search in the hope that it might lead to the return of her keepsakes. In her own words from the show:

"Well, I'm searching for my jewelry which was stolen from my house last November. The most important things for me that I've lost are things I inherited from my parents. Then there was a rather nice piece of jewelry that my husband had made for me, and it was a four-leaved flower with a little bead on the front, in gold. That went . . .
And in the Sixties, I had bought a little ring, which was like a miniature identity bracelet, and I had a St. Christopher hanging off it, and I wore it all through "Are You Being Served".
It's all about memories, and when they're taken away from you, it's . . . it's so painful. It really is."

Anyone who would dwell on the fact that she's speaking of material items might do well to consider the last couple of sentences of her plea.

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Seaside Special

Wendy joined many other celebrities (including a number of her colleagues from Are You Being Served?) in the inaugural broadcast of a BBC variety show entitled Seaside Special, on 19 Jun 76.  This show was advertised as the first of a series, and implied that it was filmed at the seaside resort of Blackpool, in northwest England.

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Shooting Stars

This game show at its roots is your basic ask-a-panel competition with a couple of extra twists thrown in by comedian co-hosts Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer.  The pilot episode featured Wendy Richard as one of the celebrity guests, along with Ulrika Jonsson, Danny Baker, Jonathan Ross, Martin Clunes, and some guy named Noddy Holder.

The show, which was televised for the first time on 26 Dec 93, began rather chaotically, and it is difficult to tell if its goal was to offer a panel question game or simply provide a forum for the jokes and antics of the hosts.  Certainly it didn't come close to achieving the overall sense of keen wit and gracious manners which were the hallmarks of other shows Wendy more typically frequented, such as Call My Bluff and Just A Minute.  This was of course no fault of hers; as she noted in a 2001 interview with Radio Times:  "If ever there were two young men totally unhampered by talent, it's them."

This episode is available in three parts on YouTube:

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Sitcom Story, The

This was a three-part television series produced by the BBC in 2002 hosted by British comedienne Dawn French. Although it seems that the show would look at the history of the "situation comedy", there was actually very little "history"; it was mostly a collection of clips from British examples of the genre, such as The Good Life, Absolutely Fabulous, Fawlty Towers, Steptoe and Son, and many others. While revisiting highlights of the classics might have been pleasant for fans of the respective comedies, it did little to really pull together or explain the big picture of how such shows evolved and developed and what contributed to the success of each. The documentary was not helped in the least by French's inter-clip monologues, which were unfunny and fairly pointless.

The second part, televised on BBC One on 19 May 03, featured a few comments by Wendy about the advantage of the locale of AYBS? --

"I don't think it makes a difference where your sitcom is based, except one gets rather bored with a three-piece suite, and a kitchen, and a dining table. That does get a bit tedious after a time."

-- as well as her confession about musicals --

"It was good fun when we did the musical numbers. Now, I . . . have no sense of rhythm whatsoever, and if you see any of the musical numbers we did, I am always out of step with everyone else. I could never get it quite right."

-- followed by John Inman's confirmation --

She's got a wonderful expression, Wendy, she says: ' 'Ere, I don't do musicals!' "

-- finally commenting on the timelessness of the series' appeal --

"The fan mail, e-mail I get from people in the States, and they're watching the same episodes over and over again. And at first of all, I thought: 'they must get fed up with it', but they don't, and they remember lines, dialogue, and they seem to see something new, and take more attention to what's going on, say, in the background of a scene or something. But then here's me myself, watching Golden Girls and Frasier over and over again. I see the same episodes, but it still makes me laugh. Because it's good."

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So Graham Norton

This is an oddball talk show with an campy Irish host who even the BBC has labeled a "cult icon". I'm told that the program usually airs very late in the evening -- even by UK standards -- since it's quite a bit on the risqué side.

Wendy made a guest appearance on the show on 21 June 03. I'm still trying to track down a tape of the interview.

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Spooner's Patch

According to the Definitive UK Sitcom List, this was a series about a "comedic policeman", which ran for 3 seasons in 1979, 1980 and 1982. Produced by independent LWT (London Weekend Television).

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Star Turn / Star Turn Challenges

This show, produced by the BBC and scheduled early Sunday evenings on BBC1, was also known as Star Turn Challenges.  The basic premise of the show remained the same between the two forms:  a weekly quiz and charades show, oriented toward children, with two teams of three people competing against each other for points.  Early in the series, well-known British comedian Bernard Cribbins was the show's host.  UK Gameshow.com provides other amusing details about the show, as well as a theory about the different names.

Wendy showed up at least a couple of times on the show.  The first may have been on 20 Jun 76 as a non-affiliated panel member on Star Turns.  Then she appeared again Sunday 15 Sep 79 on the team representing the cast of Are You Being Served? (when the show was titled Star Turn Challenges).  In this latter show, they squared off against the cast of the childrens' show Crackerjack.

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Telly Addicts Christmas Special

Back on 28 Dec 95 Ms. Richard made an appearance on this BBC1 TV quiz show. The host was Noel Edmunds, of House Party notoriety, and teamed the casts from two popular television shows against each other. Ms. Richard was joined by John Inman, Frank Thornton, and Nicholas Smith (of Are You Being Served?, of course). This dynamic quartet was faced by Peter Duncan, Janet Ellis, John Noakes, and Valerie Singleton (OBE), all from Blue Peter, a long-running British children's television series.

According to epguides.com, Wendy also appeared in at least one other episode of Telly Addicts on 11 Oct 93.

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That's Showbusiness

Previously, this website had been showing a TV entry called That's Show Biz, and now I suspect that was a corrupted reference to this program of similar name on which Wendy appeared the evening of 31 Dec 90, according to a contemporary issue of Radio Times.

The program was a quiz show, that ran for a few years, starting in either 1989 or 1990.  It pitted teams of celebrities against each other to answer questions about  . . . yes, show business.

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The Big C

In early 1996, cancer touched Ms. Richard's life for the first time. Perhaps as a result of that experience, she took the opportunity the next year to host a two-hour long, two-part BBC special on cancer and its treatment. As she said in a 1997 Radio Times interview:

"For some reason, there are people who look down on artists who are in soaps. But, by the same token, if you're in a soap, a lot of people who don't bother to read the papers or magazines will pay attention to what you say. I think I was asked to present this programme because of a cross-section of fans I have who will watch it, and who will then, hopefully, take notice of what I'm saying to them."

The show, first broadcast on BBC1 on 26 and 27 Mar 97 examines the way the disease--and the rigors of its treatment--have affected six families in Britain. The subject matter is quite frank and at times somber -- this is not intended to be entertainment.

Ms. Richard presents the show; that is, she acts as the host and narrator. At the start of each episode, she provides a short introduction; during the lead-ins for each individual segment, she does the voice-over; and at the end of each episode, she provides a summary and relates to her own experience as well.

{Wendy standing in hospital lobby}

Throughout the documentary, Ms. Richard carries herself with strength and pose. Her intensity underscores the gravity of the subject, yet at the same time she tempers the seriousness with a hope and an optimism that are both comforting and inspiring.

{Wendy sitting in hospital waiting room}

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This Is Your Life

Based on an American television program from the 1950s of the same name, this show specializes in snagging well-known persons and subjecting them to a humorous re-telling of their life's story.

2000: honoree -- Dale Winton 2000: honoree -- Todd Carty
1995: honoree -- David Croft 1998: honoree -- Trevor Banister
1977: honoree -- John Inman  

On 16 Nov 00, a This Is Your Life aired that honored EastEnders actor Todd Carty. First they called the whole cast of the show in, but it was arranged for Wendy to have a special entry. She then told a story (which is in her book as well) about when they had a new director on the set who said what kind of motivations they needed to have and Wendy got annoyed, telling him that he only had to say where they had to stand and then leave the rest up to them. To which Todd Carty replied: "Oh mummy! I love it when you talk dirty!".

Wendy then told him that she loved working with him and that he was the best son ever. She was wearing a suit (like a gentleman's suit, but more feminine) and tie. And she seemed just as proud as Carty's own mother!

On 17 Jan 00, Ms. Richard appeared again on This Is Your Life to honor BBC presenter and all-around TV personality Dale Winton.

Hosted by Michael Aspel, the show was recorded on the previous Saturday (15 Jan) apparently in order to surprise Winton, who had just finished doing a live show of his own that day. The surprise guests included not only Ms. Richard, but also Barbara Windsor, Adam Woodyatt, and Michelle Collins (all of who are current or past EastEnders actors).

As an introduction for Ms. Richard, a short clip from the recent EastEnders: Fighting Fit show (which Winton hosted) was shown -- the segment (from Part 3 of the series) where she takes some very modest 'exercise' with weights strapped on her wrists. Then Adam and Wendy appeared on-stage, walked over to Dale Winton, and he kissed them both in Continental fashion. He kept saying to Ms. Richard that she looked absolutely gorgeous. Indeed, she did. Of particular interest was her lovely tunic-coat. Nearly floor-length, it had a black and white picture of a boy and a girl, as well as a moon and stars. In the words of one viewer, it was "sooo beautiful!" (Here's a shot of her from the show; however, this picture, from Wendy's own website, shows much more clearly the design of the tunic.)

Adam Woodyatt told about how during the Fighting Fit show that Dale Winton made everyone else run around, etc., but that he himself (Winton) only ran to the cafe for breakfast. Ms. Richard indicated she'd met Winton more often and she mentioned one particular time on the quiz show Just A Minute. She and Winton were on the same episode, and they ended up laughing so much that the recording of the show had to be stopped, so that Wendy's mascara could be retouched . . .

In Jan 98, Ms. Richard guested on a This Is Your Life episode which honored Trevor Bannister, who, back in the 1970s, played the character of Mr. Lucas, the men's sales assistant on the comedy series Are You Being Served?

Along with other British celebrities, many of the original cast members were there as well: John Inman, Frank Thornton, and Mollie Sugden, so Ms. Richard's role was modest. She was one of the first to come in, and she only had one line: "He always wanted to look into my drawers and I don't mean the ones under the counter!" -- a reference to Mr. Lucas' eternal pursuit of ladies sales assistant Shirley Brahms (played by Wendy).

She also appeared on another TIYL on 20 Dec 95 held for David Croft, the co-writer for AYBS?.

In 1977, Wendy may have been one of the guests on a This Is Your Life honoring John Inman, her colleague from Are You Being Served? This is by rumor only; I know of no details of the show as of yet.

It is amusing to note that the Are You Being Served? episode "Founder's Day" itself was built around a faux-TIYL style event for the store's owner, young Mr. Grace.

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This Morning

A morning talk show produced by the ITV television network. On 15 Nov 00, the This Morning website records a visit from Wendy . . .

Wendy speaking on "This Morning" show

. . . who talked about her book and her life. Here's a link to the official write-up on the ITV site.

I've been told that on a Yahoo on-line fan club for EastEnders, additional details of her appearance were recorded:

"Wendy Richard was on This Morning with Richard & Judy today talking about her life & her new book etc. . . . Anyway, at the end of the interview, Wendy got out two cheques. (Throughout the last week or so, This Morning have been appealing for donations for this young girl who has a very bad problem with her face and needs surgery.) Wendy presented a £500 cheque from her "local" pub - very nice, and then (and it brought tears to her and Judy's eyes) Wendy said:  'A few months back, I was broken into, and they stole all my rings/necklaces', etc, given by her mother. Well, she continued to say, 'yesterday, I received the insurance cheque for them, and when I saw that girl, I decided to give it all to her. The rings were irreplaceable and her operation is more important than rings and bracelets'. Then she gave over her personal cheque for £2000 for the appeal. How very kind. Well done, Wend!"


Thanks, Anneloes, for the additional info!

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Trial of Gemma Lang, The

Billed as a "reality-drama series", this production by ITV in 2007 assembled a cast of British celebrities to act as a jury of twelve for a rather lurid mock trial.  An air of authority is added by the presence of a "real" judge and attorneys.  Presumably, the jury's deliberations, as well as the trial itself, would be the televised material for the four-day run of the series.  However, it's not clear whether this show ever made it onto the air.  A three or four minute long trailer for the show may be seen at the Hat Trick Productions website.

Joining Wendy on the faux-jury were Derek Acorah, Gemma Atkinson, Immodesty Blaize, Julian Clary, Nancy Dell'Olio, Lisa Faulkner, Robert Kilroy-Silk, Timmy Mallett, Lee Ryan, June Sarpong,(whose website claims that an MBE stands for "Minister of the British Empire" . . .) and Brian Sewell.  All these folks seem to be fairly controversial people in their own ways -- but then that was probably why they were invited to participate in the first place.

Some publicity shots for the show exist, with Wendy looking as handsome as ever.

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Tribute to John Inman, A

On 31 March 07 Wendy took on the sad role of on-screen host in a retrospective television tribute for her long-time friend and former colleague John Inman, who had passed away just a few weeks earlier.  Aired on BBC2, the show included reminiscences by Wendy and other friends of Inman's, and also offered highlights from his television career and personal photo stills.

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Tubridy Tonight

On 13 Jan 07 Wendy appeared on this evening talk show broadcast by Radio Telefís Éireannthe (RTE), which is the public broadcasting service in Ireland.  Her interview by genial host Ryan Tubridy was about 18 minutes long and touched on the highlights of her life and 45-year career.  One may watch the interview as streaming RealMedia from the RTE website, but it's very skippy and difficult to watch; I'll try to have a transcription available in the near future.

Tubridy introduced Wendy after providing a run-down of her early career and showing a clip from one of her last scenes in EastEnders.  Wendy was clearly in high spirits as she entered and took her seat; she was dressed with her usual casual elegance in a grey double-breasted pinstripe suit with open-necked pink blouse (no brooch, though . . . ).  Tubridy began their chat by asking about Wendy's first brush with fame:  her work on the Beatles' movie Help.  She shared some anecdotes about the experience and commented on her enormous disappointment at having her scene cut.  Their chat then moved on, covering the Carry On movies and Are You Being Served?  In regard to the latter, Wendy reminisced on her early real-life experiences as a sales assistant, and detoured briefly with comments on her illnesses in recent years.  Finally, she turned back to her early comedies, where she made clear again her opinion of the deleterious effect that modern political correctness has inflicted on the art of British comedy.  Tubridy asked about the transition from her glamorous Shirley role to that of dowdy Pauline, and the amount of hard work required to play such a major role in EastEnders.  Wendy noted how important it had been to draw a line between her own life and that of Pauline's, yet even that was difficult during extremely intense storylines (such as the notorious frying pan scene of the late-1990s).  The discussion shifted to her good relationship with the cast and crew, with Wendy offering unreserved praise of her former colleagues and co-workers; also remarking on the need for script accuracy -- even if it is all just fictional.  She commented on the way within the last year or so that Pauline had been changed in such an uncharacteristic way, and how her finally leaving was simply a point of principle.  Wrapping up, Wendy noted she is in fact engaged in new work (though she admitted with a smile that she actually didn't even know the title of it yet!).

Overall, this was a very pleasant and informative interview; Wendy has rarely seemed in better form.

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Turn Out The Lights

This comedy show produced by Granada was a spin-off from Pardon The Expression (which was itself a spin-off of the soap opera Coronation Street).  The series ran for only six 55-minute-long episodes early in 1967 and chronicled the further adventures of Leonard Swindley, who in this show no longer works for a department store.  There's a fairly thorough write-up about the series in general at the Coronation Street wiki page

  On 16 Jan 67 Wendy appeared in the third episode, entitled A Big Hand For A Little Lady, as a showgirl named Veronica.  It appears that while a few still photos of her in character exist, all copies of the actual episodes may have been lost.

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TV's Greatest Hits

Billed by the BBC as "A series looking at the most-watched programmes in the history of British television, presented by Gaby Roslin", TV's Greatest Hits aired a segment on 13 Aug 99 that included a look at the work of, and an interview with, our favorite actress, Ms. Richard. It has been reported to this webmeister that she looked healthy and happy during the show. She wore a chocolate brown dress and jacket, and her hair was very nicely done.

Wendy's part of the show began with a film snippet from EastEnders: the infamous kitchen scene from 1994, when Pauline beaned Arthur on the head with a skillet after learning he'd been having an affair with another woman. At the conclusion of the clip, Gaby said "Wendy Richard!", at which time Ms. Richard walked onstage and to her chair. Ms. Roslin asked what the future holds, to which Ms. Richard asked "In EastEnders?" "Yes, for Pauline." Wendy essentially said that Pauline was going to be all right, because she had 'some' money in the bank -- 25,000 pounds -- so they were going to do her up a bit, and there will be some romance. Gaby then asked: " Is that all you are going to tell us?" Ms. Richard left it at that, appearing to be rather amused with the way she was leaving everyone dangling with those hints; there would be no more details about Pauline's future from her!

Ms. Roslin then mentioned that Wendy had done a lot of work before EastEnders. Another film clip was shown; a scene with a milkman walking up to a house. A very, very young Ms. Richard answers the door and wonders why the milkman she usually has isn't there. The milkman says because he is exhausted. She asks him in for a cup of tea/coffee, but he refuses and she is irritated because now she is going to have to pay the milkman. (Webmeister's note: this was from a short comedy scene Wendy did as part of The Dick Emery Show, likely in the early 1970s.)

The clip was followed by another from the 1970 series Up, Pompeii, a bawdy comedy where in one episode Ms. Richard played a prostitute in Roman times. After the clip, Gaby asked Wendy whether she hated being identified with those kind of roles. Ms. Richard paused awhile to think and then simply said "No"; in honesty, she thought she ended up being paid well enough to make a nice living because of these roles. She did go on to make it very clear that in all the 40 years she's been in the business, she's not once removed her clothes in front of the camera -- but what's wrong with showing a bit of cleavage? At this point, a still from Up, Pompeii was shown where Wendy was actually showing quite a lot. She joked about it, saying something about the scene involving gluing things on.... Then Ms. Richard told how she gave a lecture recently to over 300 students between the ages of 16 and 18 years old. They were very nice, and she told them that if she could pull it off for all those years without ever taking her clothes off, so could they.

Ms. Roslin went on to mention another of Ms. Richard's works Are You Being Served? and showed several scenes from that series: one from the 1977 episode "A Change is As Good As A Rest" in which Miss Brahms says: "You have to have two or they won't wobble!"; in another clip she says something to the effect of "Vein Rooge . . . Co-op . . . now whereabouts is 'Coop'?" Gaby noted that the series was very popular and ventured to say that Ms. Richard must be surprised that the show is shown over and over again on television everywhere. Ms. Richard replied that it actually doesn't get repeated that often, because people think it isn't politically correct, noting that she herself doesn't care about political correctness that much. Besides, when Mrs. Slocombe was talking about her pussy, she really did mean her cat and what others think she was talking about is their business.

At this point, Gaby said: "But we think we found your very first TV appearance". Ms. Richard made a funny face as if she was thinking "Oh-oh..." They showed a clip of a man singing a song, and for about two seconds during that clip a very young Wendy is shown just sitting there, smiling into the camera. Ms. Richard said "That was me!" and went on to tell she was about 16 and a half, or 17 at the time. [Webmeister's note: the show was Sammy Meets the Girls.] Then they said thank you and good-bye and then it was on to the subsequent segment of the show. Throughout the whole interview Ms. Richard was again trying her best to make the audience laugh. And of course she succeeded!


Thanks, Anneloes, for providing this report!

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Up Pompeii!

A comedy series from the UK set during the time of the Roman empire. It seems to have shared some characteristics of the contemporary Carry-On movies -- down to the bawdy humor and imaginative (and highly unlikely) names of the various characters; though my impression is that the series was quite innovative for its time. Up Pompeii! ran for two "seasons" during 1970 and total of 13 episodes plus a pilot.

Ms. Richard appeared in but one color episode shot in early 1970 and broadcast on 6 Apr 70. It was the second of the first series and was entitled Ides of March. She played the character Soppia (who Wendy describes as "the court scrubber" [loose woman]). This episode of hers is notable too, for being the show (as Wendy frequently notes) in which she appears "in the briefest costume I've ever worn. It was only stuck on with toupee tape, all over my bosom".

As far as I can tell, only six episodes of Up, Pompeii! are available on PAL and NTSC video tape (three episodes on each of two tapes), but Wendy's episode is definitely not among them.

Factoid

In the same episode may be seen another actor who later worked with Ms. Richard on Are You Being Served?: Nicholas Smith (Mr. Rumbold).

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The Wednesday Play:  Voices In the Park

For much of the 1960s, the BBC offered a mid-week presentation of one-off comedy or drama pieces under the general series title of The Wednesday Play.  The Action-TV website has quite a fine write-up about the series itself (as does TV Cream).

On 5 April 67 a sixth-season episode entitled The Voices In the Park was aired in which Wendy appeared as a supporting character named Delphine.

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Weakest Link

This is a relatively new British quiz show that has apparently become quite popular in the UK -- indeed so much so that it was brought to the US in early 2001. The premise is that a number of contestants answer questions, and periodically throughout the show the 'weakest link' (the person who is performing most poorly up to that point) is ejected from the competition, leaving in the end, of course, a sole winner. The notoriety the show has gained seems to be not so much due to its format, but rather to the abrasive manner of the host, Anne Robinson.

The rules of the game are fairly simple:  the competition consists of eight rounds. At the end of each, Robinson dismisses one of the contestants based on a poll of the other remaining players. It's an implicit fact that the poll is often manipulated by contestants for tactical reasons (for example, two weak players voting off a clearly stronger third player, in order to reduce the collective threat to themselves).

Both of Wendy's appearances on the show appear to have been on special celebrity editions of the game show, broadcast on the BBC1 channel:  on 1 March 2001 with other cast members of EastEnders (review follows, below); and 29 July 2006, which pitted Wendy against actors from rival soaps Emmerdale and Coronation Street.

 Wendy appeared in an episode aired on Thursday, 1 Mar 01 that was a special celebrity competition for charity. She was joined by fellow-EastEnders Adam Woodyatt (Ian Beale), Todd Carty (Mark Fowler), Lucy Benjamin (Lisa Shaw), Lucy Speed (Natalie Evans), Shaun Williamson (Barry Evans), Perry Fenwick (Billy Mitchell), and Hannah Waterman (Laura Dunn). The show is covered in some detail by an article on the BBC news website, which actually does a fairly good job of describing the show and this particular episode.

Score Results

Wendy survived the cut until the very end, ending up in a head to head with brainbox Woodyatt, who finally prevailed over her in a "first wrong answer loses" showdown.

Round by Round

Wendy got off to a slow start in the first round, failing two of three questions (one of the misses being to identify the major literary work written by Geoffrey Chaucer). Interestingly, the majority of her colleagues did not subsequently identify her as the weakest link:

AR: "You thought Lucy B was the weakest link, did you, Wendy?"
WR: "Well, not really, but I know that she wants to go home . . ."
AR: "Are they all frightened of you?"
WR (imperiously): "They wouldn't dare be frightened of me, Annie."
AR : "I think they are, because you were catastrophic. You were statistically the worst link. Do you not read a lot of Chaucer in that launderette, Wendy?"
WR (becoming much more bubbly; not realizing -- or choosing not to acknowledge -- that Robinson's question was pure sarcasm): "No, funnily enough, that was the answer to one of the questions in the Telegraph crossword --"
AR : "I'm not dealing with the Telegraph crossword; this is The Weakest Link here."
WR (accepting the rebuke, nods without a word)
AR : "Was Chanel, Edith Chanel an answer in the Telegraph crossword, too?"

Wendy, with all the charm she can muster, offers an innocent explanation for that other wrong answer of hers. It rambles a bit and finally comes to an end when Robinson feigns a great yawn. The BBC offers a short video clip of this event on its Weakest Link: Special Editions webpage.

Round Two went much better, with Wendy getting all her questions right -- and coming across as much more serious than before.

AR: "Wendy, you're doing very well this round."
WR (wary of the unexpected compliment): "What, you mean I voted the right person off, or I got something right . . .?"
AR : "No, statistically, you got two right, and were the strongest link. Why Perry?"
WR : "I think he wants to go home now."

The remaining five rounds saw Wendy holding her own, answering all or most of her questions. Her bearing clearly changed as she seemed to focus more closely on the game: no smile, steely glare; arms crossed. The breadth of her knowledge was impressive; questions on literature and geography seemed to give her the most trouble. (Actually, it's a pity this competition doesn't provide "lifelines" like a certain other well-known -- and inexplicably popular -- game show. If Wendy had called me, I would have been happy and able to inform her that the flag of The Lone Star State has but one star, and not ten, as she guessed. Oh, well . . .)

But despite Robinson's prodding, as the game neared its close, our Wendy seemed to ease up and have a bit of fun once more:

AR: "Why have you voted for Todd [to leave]?"
WR: "Well, with all due respect, and I'm extremely fond of Todd, as I am of Adam, but I do think Adam has the edge over Todd when it comes to answering questions -- " (and throwing her arms out to the sides in a dramatic gesture) "-- and I cannot vote for myself!!"

She finally stumbled on the next-to-last sudden-death question, on the subject of poetry, failing to identify Rupert Brook as the author of the lines: "If I should die, think this only of me: that there's some corner of a foreign field that is forever England." Robinson paid Wendy a remarkable compliment though, when declaring Woodyatt the champion:

AR: "Wendy, you leave with nothing -- but you look absolutely terrific!"
Fan Moments

Myriad! This delightful show was chock-full of Wendy unscripted, battling the clock and delving deep for the factual nuggets required to satiate the game mistress' ravenous queries. Here's a couple of scenes to watch for:

> The exchange of words after the disastrous first round. Robinson says: "Who may be several machines short of a launderette?" and Woodyatt looks over to Wendy, who's also clearly caught the reference to her own EE character: hands on her hips, with a smile that did little to soften the hard look at Robinson for that (perhaps coincidental) jab.

> In the seventh round, when Woodyatt was stumped for the name of Nelson's flagship, you can clearly hear Wendy whisper to him: "Victory", after glancing, like a schoolgirl, over to see if Robinson was watching. (Woodyatt still missed the question.)

> After the end of the show, when the credits were rolling, the two give their after-action assessments. Wendy's pronouncement:  "I would say that Anne Robinson is Nick Cotton [an EastEnders villain] in an Armani frock [dress]."

Conclusion

This edition of Weakest Link was thoroughly enjoyable, though perhaps for the very reason that it was an atypical episode. This celebrity version drew together a set of players who have worked together as a team before (on Eastenders), knew the measure of their fellows, as well as how to function and deliver under pressure. As all of them are professional actors, Robinson's doses of humiliation and intimidation seemed far less effective -- especially for the folks such as Wendy and Woodyatt who are the most established on EastEnders. It was strangely satisfying to see them dish it right back to Robinson. Take that!

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Weaver's Green

This series -- composed of 49 or 50 episodes, all of which aired between April and September of 1966 -- was an early attempt by a regional television production outfit to put together a daytime drama with an authenticity and attention to detail that twenty years later would prove a winning approach with other series such as EastEnders. It was evidently also the first to use as its basis the adventures of rural vets -- in this case it is two English veterinarian doctors, Alan Armstrong (Grant Taylor) and Geoffrey Toms (Eric Flynn). Unfortunately, according to the (now gone) write-up on the Anglia TV website, poor scheduling doomed the series to a undeserved premature demise. The show was set in East Anglia (the coastal region of England northeast of London, comprised of the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk), and was filmed (actually, videotaped) on location in Norfolk, at the village of Heydon (north of Reepham).  I think the series was black and white, but I'm not certain, since the Anglia website has both B&W and color photos.

Wendy, in her early twenties at the time, played a minor role in a few episodes, though she doesn't recall now the exact number. Here are a few images -- though she's wearing the same two-piece bathing suit in all the photos, most are from one or more dedicated publicity shoots.

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Wendy Richard: A Life On The Box

Perhaps Wendy was not honored with a This is Your Life show, but this airing of A Life On The Box , shown on 12 June 2001 certainly comes very close. A pleasant and interesting documentary by the BBC, Life on the Box looks at Ms. Richard's life and career, from childhood to the present, with an emphasis, as the title suggests, on her myriad television roles over the last forty years.

Joined by many of her friends and colleagues, Wendy was interviewed and provided insights and anecdotes about her acting life. (A full write-up will be provided later. In the meantime, here's a set of Wendy images from the show.)

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Wendy Richard's Bedtime Reading

In 2000, Ms. Richard did a short piece for the BBC that appears to be in the nature of a public service announcement encouraging youngsters to read. I don't know when exactly the 90-second piece aired or how often, but for some years it could be seen via streaming video on Wendy's Bookcase page within the BBC's educational website; however, it appears to no longer exist.

A partial transcript of her monologue appears on the BBC site; the following is the full text of what Wendy said:

"When I was a child, my parents took it in turns to read to me. And after I had outgrown Peter Rabbit and his friends, then it was Enid Blyton. I love the Famous Five and The Secret Seven - they were absolute magic to me.

"And then I discovered The Borrowers, and I loved those books very much too. In fact when I was in my twenties, I bought them, and read them all over again, and enjoyed them just as much.

"At the moment I'm really into biographies and I've started Esther Williams' biography. I read in bed at night; that's the only time I get to relax really, because I'm there in bed, with a book. But my Cairn Terrier, Shirley Brahms the Second, she gets fan mail. So the only reading allowed I do is I read her letters to her."

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Wendy Richard: To Tell You The Truth

As Wendy endured the treatment for the illness which would finally take her life, she allowed a film crew along, in the hopes that her experiences might dispel some of the mystery and fear that often surrounds cancer chemotherapy.  The resulting production was first aired on 19 Mar 09 on BBC One. (A full write-up will be provided later.)

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West Country Tales

In late 1980, BBC Southwest, in co-production with Doublejay Films, began work on a series of half-hour shows themed on various ghost stories and myths from the English 'Westcountry' (that region comprised of Cornwall, Devon, and Dartmoor). Television shows about the paranormal were nothing new for the BBC, but what gave this series a twist was that the episodes produced were based on the "personal experiences of the inexplicable" offered by TV viewers to the BBC (who had made a broad public solicitation for stories). This nice touch meant that, regardless of the supernatural overtones of the stories, through each ran a thread of truth, often powerfully strengthened by the tale's filming near or even at the very locale where the events were said to have actually occurred.

There appear to have been only two sets of episodes.  According to the website for the Encyclopedia of Fantastic Film and Television, the two seasons of the series were first shown in early 1982 and mid 1983, respectively.  Wendy appeared in the first episode of the second season, With Love, Belinda.  Produced in 1982, it was first aired on 12 May 83.

"David was six when it happened, and that was the end of everything."  These chilling words begin the episode, which is a story of loss and longing and the bond between siblings.  A family, grieving after the loss of their young son, makes a clean break from their old life, moving to a lovely and idyllic country house.  But before long, their remaining child, Belinda, begins to speak of her brother as if he was still alive, writing to him (hence the title) and playing with him in the gardens.  Her parents never see nor hear her companion, though her mother, affected by her own deep grief, gradually begins to believe it too. As the story progresses, it appears that David is coaxing Belinda to do more and more dangerous things, until Belinda, aware of her parents' concern, finally tells him he must go away for good. There's a final twist at the end that seems to show the events were more than just the little girl's imagination.

Your reviewer has mixed feelings about the show.  True, it's a delightful vehicle for Wendy and a showcase for the beauty of southwestern England; yet both the writing and photography failed to rise to their potential.  The screenplay comes across as a series of disjointed scenes which the voice-over narration struggles to smoothly tie together.  Also, the dialogue is less than natural, making some of the adults' conversations sound stilted and forced.  And while the photography and lighting was adequate indoors, it was much less successful at managing those -- admittedly more difficult -- outdoor scenes that included bright open space and dark underbrush, not to mention recurring backlighting problems.

Wendy played Jill, the devastated wife and mother. It's a serious role; anyone watching with the intent of seeing a reprise performance of bubbly Miss Brahms will be disappointed.  Yet her scenes with the young girl (played by Charlotte Helyar) are quite well done; a lovely warmth is conveyed that's in welcome (and perhaps intentional) contrast to the strained and subdued relationship between the husband and wife.  Wendy's voice, of course, is delightful to hear.  Distinctive as always, she leaves behind for this role her well-known East End accent, offering instead a much softer and utterly charming form of intonation.

A sampler of some of Wendy's lines:

In her book and other interviews, it's clear that Wendy always looked back fondly on this work of hers.  She described it as "a charming story, filmed in beautiful Dorset" and wrote in 1987 that:  "Over the years two jobs stick out in my mind. One is a one-off play I did for television called West Country Tales, which I'll remember to my dying day as one of the happiest jobs ever . . ."

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Wogan

On 18 Feb 85 a live chat show staring Terry Wogan debuted on BBC1. It ended up being quite a hit in the UK, due to the interviewer's distinct presentation, and ran for seven years. The show aired three times a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) on BBC. Wendy was the first guest on that very first show!

She and EastEnders colleague Anita Dobson joined Wogan on his show a year later in Feb 86 to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the soap.  Here's a YouTube link to that most delightful interview.

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You Bet!

This was a television gameshow, producted by LWT, that ran for about ten years from 1988 to 1997.  It revolved around people doing challenges or stunts and a panel of celebrity guests betting on the outcome of the events, with points being awarded for correct bets.  The Wikipedia and UK Gameshows websites provide more detailed descriptions.

Wendy seems to have guested on the show at least four times over the span of the show, as a member of the celebrity panel.  Her first known appearance was on 11 Feb 89 -- here's a photo of the event.  She also participated in the 17 Sep 93 broadcast certainly (here is a video of her penalty task), and possibly episodes televised on 10 Aug 96 (possible photo of Wendy during this episode) and 15 Feb 97 (photo here) as well.

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Z Cars

One in a number of British "dramatized-documentary" style series about modern police work to appear in the 1950s and 1960s. Noted for its gritty realism, Z Cars (pronounced 'Zed Cars', UK-fashion) kicked off in 1961 as a live production, switched to film/tape around 1964, and continued until 1979. It was shot in and around Liverpool with a "you are there" impact that was probably the Sixties' equivalent to what is delivered in the Nineties by series such as NYPD Blues. Z Cars was the forerunner for many later British police shows, such as The Sweeney and Softly, Softly (the latter of which was a direct spin-off from this series and which, incidentally, took its name from a West African proverb: "softly, softly, catchee monkey").

One source does note Wendy as playing a character named Maureen Parker on the seventh series' episode "Big Jake", which first aired on 25 Jan 73.  This is unfortunate, if true, since the British Missing TV Episodes Index website lists that episode as no longer in existence.

There is at least one Z-Car video tape out (in the UK in PAL format), but because it probably contains three or four of the earliest episodes, I doubt that Ms. Richard appears in it.

Factoid

Tony Holland and the late Julia Smith, the creators of Wendy's long-running soap EastEnders, were a script-writing team for Z Cars.

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