Tuesday, July 20, 2010

In Memoriam: Wendy Richard


Wendy Richard's career - in the great British tradition - was a long and varied one; her first notoriety came playing Joyce Harker in the 1960s soap opera The Newcomers, which ran for slightly more than four years, from 1965-1969*. Unfortunately, the BBC purged its archives in the 1970s, and almost every episode has been lost.

Richard later played a pair of roles in the hugely popular sitcom Dad's Army, all of which was mere momentum for what was to come... Over the course of ten series Richard appeared as Miss Brahms in the sitcom Are You Being Served?, a genuine juggernaut in British pop cultural terms; all told, the show ran for thirteen years and spawned an Australian version (in which she did not appear), novelizations, a stage show, a film, and a sequel entitled Grace & Favour.

With all that work on her resume, she might have been content to sit back and take a breather; it doesn't seem to be in her to do such a thing, though, because soon enough she'd originated the role of Pauline Fowler, who terrorized Albert Square for nearly 22 years in the BBC's long-running soap opera EastEnders. Since leaving that show (and its grinding schedule) she's been right back at it, most recently in a new David Croft sitcom entitled Here Comes The Queen, in which her character discovers she is queen of an obscure mittel-European kingdom.

Wendy Richard died of cancer in February 2009; a half hour programme called Wendy Richard: To Tell You the Truth, documenting the last three months of her life, was broadcast on BBC1 less than a month later**.  She was survived by her fourth husband, John Burns.

*Oddly enough - or not, depending on what you're into - its last episode aired on the day I was born.

**On March 19th, in fact.

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Y | O | Y said...

I still watch Are You Being Served? when it's on.

michael sean morris said...

As I was writing this I was watching - or at least listening to - an episode on YouTube.