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BELLA, ? 1990

West Ender Wendy

Albert Square's a million miles away from the environment Wendy Richard grew up in.  Dowdy, cardi-wearing Pauline, whom she plays in EastEnders, would be wide-eyed at the Rolls Royces and Mercedes with their mink and Savile Row-clad passengers that were familiar sights to young Wendy in London's swish Mayfair district.

"Don't go thinking that I lived in some millionaire penthouse," she laughs.  "I lived with my parents above a pub that they ran.  But our boozer wasn't anything like the Queen Vic!

"I was brought up in pubs all over the place.  My parents were licensees and moved around the country quite a bit.  But it was a strange existence because, during drinking hours, I was never allowed downstairs.  It was like living in a house and never being allowed in the ground-floor rooms.

"Not that I minded too much.  The thing that really bothered me was that my parents' work meant I never saw a lot of them.

"I had a series of nannies, including a marvellous Dutch lady who would take me to the park because we didn't have a garden -- I loved that.

"Weekends were the real treat because I got to sit down with Mum and Dad for the only true family meal of the week.  I certainly wasn't neglected, it was just one of those things," she says. 

Holidays were awkward, too.  "Because of their commitment to the pub, only one of my parents could come with me at a time and I think there was only one occasion when we all managed to be on holiday together.  I think I would have enjoyed more times together like that," she adds wistfully.

She later went to boarding school where magazines and television were banned.  "It sounds drastic, but it wasn't that bad," she says.  Perhaps it was this period of entertainment starvation that set Wendy on course for drama school.  One of her first roles was in the chorus line of a musical starring Sammy Davis Junior.  "One of the nicest people I've ever met," she recalls.  It was the start, and a stepping stone  . . .

Wendy played sexy Miss Brahms in Are You Being Served?  So the role of drab Pauline in EastEnders was a real change.  "I keep trying to move her image up-market, but it's difficult.  I'm nothing like her.  To me, rough living is going three weeks without a manicure!"

Now, after marital disasters, Wendy's looking forward to married life again.  The man in her life is carpet-fitter Paul Glorney.  They've bought a London house together and decorated it in several old-fashioned styles.  "We're homelovers," she says.  "We're doing up one room in Victorian taste, and another in Thirties style with Art Deco furniture and a marble fireplace.

"I've never been happier.  You have to kiss an awful lot of frogs to find a prince -- but I've found mine at last!"

John Kercher

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