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Wendy Richard

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Introduction:

Paul Burton, a writer, filmmaker and film & TV historian, was lucky enough to interview Wendy Richard during 2007. Paul paid the following tribute to Wendy in his blog on the Borehamwood & Elstree Times website on the day it was announced that she had sadly passed away:

Wendy Richard: A Tribute:

Wendy, who married her long-term partner John Burns last October, lived and worked through the golden age of British film & television.

In more recent years Richard had become more well-known for playing Pauline Fowler in the BBC soap, EastEnders, for 21 years. However her list of other acting credits is extensive.

Leaving school at the tender age of 15, Wendy Emerton, who was raised in London but born in Middlesbrough, changed her name whilst at drama school.

From early on in her acting career Richard displayed a talent for comedy roles. She appeared in the sitcom The Likely Lads; and even more memorably in Dad's Army, playing Private Walker's girlfriend.

In 1972 Wendy played Shirley Brahms in the long-running television sitcom Are You Being Served? for the first time. This is a role she would also go on to play in stage version in Blackpool and in a big screen version made at Elstree Studios. A sequel, Grace and Favour, was also made by the BBC in the Nineties.

During her time on Are You Being Served?, Richard struck up a close friendship with her co-star, John Inman. This was a friendship that lasted until Inman's untimely death in March 2007.

Wendy’s other comedy roles included appearing in the films: On the Buses, Bless this House and Carry On Girls.

I was lucky enough to interview Wendy, who was awarded the MBE in 2000, by phone for my Elstree Calling website and the Borehamwood & Elstree Times website in 2007. I found her charming and was delighted to have such a rapport with her as I had always been a huge fan of hers. From talking to her it was obvious that we shared the same thoughts and feelings on film & television. I will treasure the short note she sent afterwards with a photo saying how much she had enjoyed the interview.

I will miss Wendy popping up on television and thank goodness for the invention of DVD and video which will mean we will be able to enjoy her work for year's to come.

For those of you who may not have read my interview with Wendy about her time working at Elstree Studios, I have added it below:

Paul: What are your personal memories of filming at Elstree Studios?

Wendy: I remember that I had one days filming on the film On the Buses, which was the first of three On the Buses spin-off films. I played a woman doing her washing at a laundrette, and my scene was filmed on location at a real laundrette on Manor Way in Borehamwood, not far from Elstree Studios. I recall that the other actress in the scene who played my friend in the film was actually played by Reg Varney's real-life daughter.

Paul: What are your recollections of working on the film version of Are You Being Served? at Elstree in 1977?

Wendy: We had a great to work with and it was so nice to get together. I remember that Andrew Sachs (who played Manuel in the sitcom Fawlty Towers) appeared as a hotel manager in the film.

We filmed some scenes for the film version of Are You Being Served? on location at Luton Airport, and we used one of Dan Air's training planes for some of the filming.

During a break from filming, John Inman and I were sitting in the airport bar when a young man behind the bar asked John (who was dressed in this bright prink costume that he wore in the film) if he was going far? To which John replied (referring to his costume): "I think I've gone far enough!"

Paul: What are your feelings on the history of Elstree Studios?

Wendy: So many great movies have been made at Elstree over the years, and it has such a great history. But then England has always had the finest craftsmen and technicians. For instance, I remember in particular seeing a wonderful set that had been built on the back lot at Elstree which featured a large sweeping staircase that just led to no-where.

Although I am a fan of the supermarket chain Tesco’s, I felt really upset when part of the site at Elstree was demolished in the early 90s and one of their stores built in its place. And I felt exactly the same when the old MGM Studios in Borehamwood was demolished too.

I really enjoyed my time working at Elstree, they were great days.

My thoughts are with Wendy's partner, John Burns, and her family at this sad time.

RIP, Wendy.

Paul Burton

February 2009

Paul Burton's Websites:
 
   
 
 
Elstree Calling - Paul Burton's unofficial website which is dedicated to Elstree Studios: http://www.elstreecalling.co.uk
 
ATV Borehamwood - Paul Burton's unofficial website which is dedicated to ATV's years in Borehamwood: http://www.atvborehamwood.co.uk
  
Blog - Paul Burton's film & TV-related blog which he writes for the Borehamwood & Elstree Times: http://www.borehamwoodtimes.co.uk/blog/paulburton

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