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DAILY EXPRESS, 3 October 1985
When you've been packaged for 13 years as the gift-wrapped shopgirl every man longs to fling on to his car's back seat, it takes nerve to plunge into a role in an unscented soap.
For Wendy Richard, a sell-out as the lusty, busty Miss Brahms in Are You Being Served?, moving into Albert Square, and into a middle-aged Mum's house-size, thick-knit cardigan, was a ponderous step.
As plain Pauline Fowler, scrubbed of her make-up with her hair cut short for the first time in 19 years, Miss Richard's entry into EastEnders startled her fans.
This underestimated but consummate actress, twice-divorced and now 40, focuses realistically on her future through the glasses she wears off-screen.
"In my 25th year in show business, I can't go on playing dolly birds forever," she said. "I took this job to prove something."
As the highest paid EastEnder, she's engagingly glad of her £450 a week -- "if the six-day week is a killer, it doesn't seem so bad when you're driving past the Labour Exchange you used to go to.
"Is playing Pauline, worth the shock I get now when I see myself looking normal in eye shadow and false lashes?
"The night I knew it was worth it was when I was hammering on the windows of a phone box to make an urgent call," she said.
"The girl inside stuck her head out and said: 'I've got to get through to my Mum to tell her to record EastEnders. I'll go potty if I miss it.' "