Hello and welcome to today’s Slice Of Soap. Sad news as Wendy Richard dies after a long battle with cancer. The former EastEnder passed away in the Harley Street Clinic in London with her husband John Burns by her side. She was 65.
Diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, she had beaten the disease twice previously. She recently married her long-term partner after learning the devastating news that the cancer had returned to her left armpit during an annual check-up.
Born Wendy Emerton on July 20, 1943 in Middlesbrough, but raised in London, she had originally wanted to be an archaeologist. Her father committed suicide when she was 11 and her mother died 17 years later. After leaving school at 15, Wendy worked in the fashion department of luxury Piccadilly store Fortnum and Mason but soon departed for the Italia Conti Academy stage school.
An early taste of fame came in the form of a 1962 Mike Sarne hit entitled, Come Outside. Wendy can be heard on the record resisting his advances. Thanks to her leggy, blonde looks, she secured a role in the Albert Finney film Gumshoe and, if you look closely, you’ll spot her carrying on with Sid James and his team in the hit films Carry On Girls and Carry On Matron.
On television, Wendy appeared in numerous popular shows of the day including: The Likely Lads, Dad’s Army, Please Sir and On the Buses. But before EastEnders, she was best known as Miss Shirley Brahms, the glamorous but dippy shop assistant in the long-running BBC sitcom Are You Being Served? She played the role from 1972 to 1985. She then auditioned for a new BBC soap opera called EastEnders…
As downtrodden Pauline Fowler, with her domineering mother, weak husband, troublesome children, beige cardigan and laundry bags, Wendy Richard became one of Britain’s most recognisable actresses. It’s a testament to her acting skills that she easily made the transition from comedy to drama. For 21 years we watched her, as Pauline, rule over her East End family with a will of iron. Her soap matriarch will be remembered for years to come and I still laugh at the memory of Pauline beating her beloved ‘Ar-fer’ with a frying pan after he admitted cheating on her. Rest in peace, Wendy.
What are your memories of Wendy Richard? Please leave any messages of tribute by clicking the ‘add a comment’ button.
In view of the sad news of Wendy Richard’s death, this week’s caption competition will roll over to next week. There’s still plenty of time to get scribbling and make us all laugh.
That’s it for me, I’m out of here. Join me on Monday for a full preview of your favourite soaps. Got a comment about your favourite soap, this blog or anything else? Share it with me.
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