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Appearance on EastEnders: Fighting Fit (1999)

Katie Wright

Attracta McLaughlin

Dale Winton

Broadcast by:

"[??]" is used to indicate uncertain transcription phrases.

Part 1
25 Oct 99
Part 2
26 Oct 99
Part 3
27 Oct 99
Part 4
28 Oct 99
Part 5
29 Oct 99

Part One (25 Oct 99)

The scene opens on the EastEnders' Albert Square film set at Elstree. It's a beautiful, clear English day. Winton knocks on the corner door of the Queen Vic and from within appear Ms. Richard along with the other three actors. With a rather gushy manner, Winton introduces and chats with them all. Wendy, attired in a dark jacket/slacks ensemble with a dark pink (or is it a light fuchsia?) polo shirt, is a model of casual elegance. After just a few minutes, it is pretty clear that she's the most at ease of the quartet. And for plain honest talk, Wendy is unmatched . . .

I don't intend doing much exercise

DW : ". . . I know that a régime [regimen] like this is perhaps something you're not relishing, are you?"

WR (after a careful pause): "Well, I don't intend doing much exercise, but apart from that . . ."

. . . not to mention self-confident enough to joke lightly with her colleagues . . .

DW : "I have to say, you've got a month of this now . . . And we are going to see the new you. Little changes make a big difference. If nothing else, you're going to feel a lot better. Are you up for this?"

WR (turning to the other three as they grumble in suspicious anticipation): "I don't remember them saying anything about this part when they asked us to do this . . ."

. . . and finally there's just a hint of mischievousness when Winton asks each actor what their last strong drink was. . .

DW : " "What was your last tipple in there? Was it an alcoholic drink?"

SW : "It was a large G & T [gin and tonic], unfortunately."

TO : "A Bloody Mary."

AW : "You talkin' real ones? . . . Oh, a glass of lager."

WR (with the quiet confidence of someone who knows she's got the only correct answer of the lot): "Mineral water."

After dismissing the actors, Winton talks with a couple of consultants: British fitness guru Astrid Longhurst and media physician Dr. Rosemary Leonard. In rather rambling fashion, Longhurst offers her suggestion:

DW : "I can tell you now, Wendy has said to me, 'Dale, what's exercise? No thank you'. So I don't know what we're going to do about her."

AL (pauses): "I think . . . maybe something gentle, something stretchy, or maybe tightening and toning. She looks great anyway, do you know what I mean? She's got so much there already, she's just an inspiration in herself. So, we might find something that she's happy with -- we might not. But then we'll improvise."

. . . followed by Leonard's very polite and studied assessment:

DW : "What about you? Wendy. What do you think?"

RL (choosing her words carefully): "She's been through a lot and she's had a lot of stress, and she's coping with it really well. But she is puffing a little bit too much on the old cigarettes. Leave that one to you?"

Winton doesn't seem to keen on that, since he's an admitted smoker himself. Nonetheless, Leonard re-iterates ". . . that's the one she really ought to go for."

The next scene is the first tête-à-tête of many between Winton and each of the actors. He and Ms. Richard are sitting alone (well, except for the camera crew. . .) in the Square, on the bench that was dedicated during a 1997 EastEnders episode to the memory of Arthur Fowler.

We've caught you in the middle of a day's shoot here

DW : "We've caught you in the middle of a day's shoot here at EastEnders. It's stop-start -- it's like you start early in the morning, sometimes you work late at night. I guess you eat on the run?"

WR : "Well, yes. I'm not a great fan for BBC's canteen, so if I've had time, I buy salads and stuff like that. I tend to eat a lot of fruit."

While they continue to chat, a short clip is shown, obviously shot on some previous day, of Wendy doing some grocery shopping in the rather up-scale food hall of Selfridges Department Store, Oxford Street, London.

Grocery shopping

DW : "Do you check for fat content; do you check for sugar; do you check for cholesterol?"

WR : "No. I have low cholesterol, so, I mean, I love proper [whole] milk. I hate all that half-fat milk; it ruins a good cup of tea. And I have butter, not a great deal of butter on bread, just sort of show the bread the butter, 'cause that's good for you. You need a bit of natural grease, oil in your body anyway."

And then it's time for Winton to lower the boom on what Leonard had mentioned earlier . . .

The cigarettes!

DW : "Wendy and I share a dreadful habit, and I guess this is where we should tackle it, here and now. And I'm going to ask you: the cigarettes!"

WR (in a very careful and neutral tone): "Yes?"

DW : "How many a day?"

WR (looking away in a lovely demure fashion): "I'm not telling you, please. I'm not."

DW (silently mouthing to the camera: 'fifty cigarettes a day', then turning back to Wendy): "Is it fifty?"

WR (sort of waves her hand in a self-conscious gesture): "Well . . ."

DW : "I asked the other day on the phone and you kind of --- lied." (they both laugh) "I'm the same as you, and you said to me: 'Dale, you know, I think I might stop smoking.' "

WR : "Well, I will, 'cause they've stopped making my brand now, so when I've run out of my stockpile that I've got at home, I'll probably stop smoking. But then I shall probably be impossible, because I shall be so bad-tempered."

There follows then an interesting insight about the environment on the set of EastEnders.

discussing stress and smoking

DW : "Do you think that stress plays a part in your smoking?"

WR : "Oh, I think so, especially working on EastEnders. You get people come and join the show and they don't smoke -- probably never have smoked -- and within 2 or 3 weeks, you see them in the corner, going . . ." (she hunches her shoulders and mimics someone puffing nervously on a cigarette.) ". . . you know, because we do have a lot of stress and a lot of tension here. Unless you've worked on the program, you can not possibly understand what the routine is like. It is a giant machine, and once you're on it, that's it."

At this point, the show switches subjects and runs a scene or two with Adam Woodyatt for a few minutes. When that concludes, the discussion between Winton and Ms. Richard resumes and turns toward perhaps the most delicate topic of all.

DW : "I know you were very public about your cancer scare . . ."

WR : "Um-hmm."

DW : ". . . quite recently. Has that alerted anything in your mind to it now, 'maybe I have to make radical changes' at all?"

WR : "Well, I've learned -- it probably sounds selfish -- but when you've been through that, you have to learn to make more time for yourself. And I was always rushing around doing things for other people -- I mean, I still try to do things for other people -- but I make sure that I have some quality time."

She goes on to briefly discuss how she scheduled taking medication, noting how important it was for her not to "hold up shooting at all, because I suddenly had a funny turn". Winton then changes the subject.

I never touch spirits . . .

DW : "What about your treats, what about your favorite tipper? What would that be?"

WR : "Oh, well, I never touch spirits; they don't agree with me at all. I'm afraid I'm a champagne girl. 'Cause my mother told me when I was born, when I was an hour and a half old, my father got a silver teaspoon with a drop of champagne, and put it to my lips, so I presume that's his fault."

DW : "What about coffee? I know, personally, I have to have my caffeine fix, like one after another."

WR : "The only time we drink coffee is when we're out shopping at our little haven in Selfridges, where you can smoke. You must go. Gordon's bar. We always have a café latte there. And I like that."

Finally, Winton wraps up by asking Wendy, for the record, what she hoped to accomplish over the next four weeks.

She is going to try!

DW : "Wendy, what do you want to be sitting here in four weeks says to me, 'Dale, I've done this?' "

WR : "Umm, what, apart from tidying up the sitting room at home?"

DW : "You said you're not going to achieve it, are you?"

WR : "No, I'm not!"

DW : "Do you want to lose any weight?"

WR : "No. I'm not too bad, actually . . . All right, I'll firm up my arms and my legs a bit more."

DW : "Are you going to cut down the cigarettes, just a bit?"

WR (a pause, and then in her most silky and charming voice, as she gives a glamorous toss of her head away from Winton): "That's between me and my conscience . . . All right, I will, I'll try."

DW : "You heard her! She's going to try!"

Part 1
25 Oct 99
Part 2
26 Oct 99
Part 3
27 Oct 99
Part 4
28 Oct 99
Part 5
29 Oct 99

Part 2 (26 Oct 99)

The second episode spends only a short time with Ms. Richard. It begins with an establishing shot of her entering an establishment that resembled a hair salon and then remains with her as she receives a non-traditional massage treatment.

Receiving shiatsu

WR : "Since I've started having these treatments, I can really feel they are doing me good. I have a feeling of general well-being."

Her attendant : "Shiatsu is a very beautiful approach for healing. It incorporates mainly traditional Chinese medicine, as you know. So it's like acupuncture without needles, so one can use their hands, their feet, fingers, thumbs, knees, so you're working to release energy . . ."

WR : "I suffer with tension across my shoulders, through stress at work, or when you're sitting reading scripts, or as I do my own fan mail and everything, when I'm sitting over a typewriter -- the tension builds up across your shoulders and across the back of your neck. And you don't always realize how knotted up your muscles there are getting. And then you start to get twinges and bits of pain and everything. I was recommended to try this, and I have to say, I have found it a great help."

(Her attendant continues to work on her upper back and shoulders.)

WR : "Actually, this is so handy. You can have this treatment, you don't have to take your clothes off, there are no oils or stuff which get in your hair or make a mess of everything."

(The attendant applies a gentle hold similar to a full Nelson.)

WR : "You can sort of feel it traveling down your arms. It's like a tingling feeling; it goes right down to your fingertips. The good feeling you get after the treatment, it lasts for quite a while and I think then your own body clock [recognizes that] . . . you . . . should have another treatment. And if I was able to come here every week regularly . . . I would, but unfortunately, I can't. But if I've got an extra week out or an extra day off, I'll phone up, and if Christian's here, I'll come around and have a treatment."

Part 1
25 Oct 99
Part 2
26 Oct 99
Part 3
27 Oct 99
Part 4
28 Oct 99
Part 5
29 Oct 99

Part 3 (27 Oct 99)

Well after the start of Part Three, Winton and Tamzin Outhwaite (external link) are standing (actually, Outhwaite is sitting on the counter . . .) in the Albert Square grocery set, talking about how the other participants were faring in the program.

DW : "What are we going to do with Wendy? What are we going to do with Wendy Richard? What are we going to do . . .?"

TO : "Is she quite healthy, no?"

DW : "She is. She walks the dogs, but she says to me, 'I'm not going to give up the fags [cigarettes]'. She loves a glass of champagne. I mean, she really loves a glass every now and then."

TO : "Yeah, but everyone likes a glass of champagne every now and then. . . I don't think that would be a problem. Maybe fags would be a problem . . ."

Wendy goes grocery shopping

The next scene shows Ms. Richard once again shopping at Selfridges. From her attire and the shots used, this is the same shopping trip as was shown during Part One. "Well, this is my corner shop. I'd be lost without it", she says, as the camera follows her up and down the aisles. At the poultry counter, she asks for a free-range chicken and lightly banters with the counterman. She moves toward and then past a gorgeous spread of seafood, noting: "I'd love to stop here at the oyster bar, but unfortunately, I'm allergic to shellfish, so it's wasted on me." In an intriguing shot, she picks up a rather large, dark jar with a yellow lid and as she places it in the basket, says "this isn't for us; it's a gift." [Webmaster's note: I have been informed that the item was an enormous jar of Marmite!] Finally, she checks out and gathers up her purchases. The young check-out girl seems to take this all as a matter of routine; surely she knows who she's just served?

We then see Ms. Richard in the kitchen of the BBC canteen [cafeteria], where she has joined chef Tony Tobin to prepare a healthy halloumi and feta salad. Wendy is dressed sharply in a blue dress and a "Fighting Fit" apron and over the next few minutes, the viewer is treated to some of her thoughts about the art of cooking -- and eating.


WR : "I'm here in the kitchen with my pal, Tony. Now then, we're going to show you what's in the pan here, which is a cheese called . . . "

TT : "Halloumi."

WR : " 'Hal-lu-may'. There you are. Pop that down there. Now, this is actually from Cyprus, isn't it?"

TT : "That's right. This is a Cyprus cheese."

WR : "But being a lover of Indian food, I like paneer, the Indian curd cheese, which you have fried, but this is similar, isn't it?"

TT : "It is quite similar to it. And we have another cheese here: feta cheese, which is a Greek cheese which goes great with salads. I just want to do something very similar for you; when they said could you cook something for Wendy, because you actually eat very well anyway at home, don't you?"

WR : "Yes . . . but I'm not a great meat eater, so . . ."

TT : "But you do eat a lot of cheese, which is good if you don't eat meat. It's good to eat cheese, because cheese is high in vitamin B12, which is what you lack if you don't eat meat."

WR : "When you say about doing salads, when you just get sort of ordinary lettuce, it can be a bit boring, can't it? So you've got all different leaves in there."

TT : "These are a mixture of leaves, that you can just buy these; they come in bags, they're already washed, at the supermarket. And now, we're getting more adventurous in this country, where there are different types of things we can use. It's worth experimenting. But I still think they taste of nothing until you dress them."

WR : "That's right . . ."

As they speak, Tobin continues on expertly with his preparation of a salad with olive oil and lemon juice dressing.

Watching Tobin at work in the kitchen

TT : "If you're going to eat oil, then olive oil is a good oil to eat. There are no saturates in it; it has a little bit of fat in it, but it's good fat."

WR : "Yeah. You see, I think you need a bit of fat or something in your body. You've got to have a certain amount; you've got to keep all your tubes greased, haven't you?"

TT : "You sound like my mum. That's what she says." (laughs) "So, we've got a dressing in there; I've got some real onion here . . ."

WR : "I love onions . . ."

TT : "Oh good. I've actually salted it slightly and just put it in a little bit of vinegar. And it just softens it, and I think it adds to the vinegar and brings out the citrus in the lemon."

WR (sampling the salad): "Oh! Lovely!"

TT : "Now, we've got some wonderful tomatoes . . ."

WR : "Don't you find it difficult now a-days to get tomatoes with a bit of flavor? It's so hard to find decent tomatoes."

TT : "Impossible! It's impossible, and they sell you tomatoes and call them 'vine tomatoes', but where do they come from, if they don't come from vines. They're selling us the obvious and charging an extra pound. Gone are the days of they smell of Granddad's greenhouse." (Tobin arranges the salad on the plate.) "I'm not one of these guys that likes to build things and spend hours on touching them all."

Next is Ms. Richard's pragmatic approach to meal preparation . . .

Once I've cooked it, that's it.

WR : "No, well, I don't have time for all that. I mean, I enjoy cooking and I make things, but I get bored -- I know I should do a nice presentation, arrange it nicely on a plate, but I get bored with it then. You know, I've cooked it, that's it."

TT : "Exactly. We just put a couple of pieces of this Halloumi cheese, warm."

WR : "I want to try that cheese . . ."

TT : "With the feta cheese, it's quite a sort of a sharp cheese, so I thought we add to the sharpness by adding some lemon zest; again, it's got that sort of fresh flavor that will work here. Olive oil, and I'll put some fresh basil and coriander just to give some herbs. And actually, sometimes if you warm feta cheese up slightly, just put it under the grill for a little bit, it's actually quite nice . . ."

And then a salad recipe of her very own . . .

Wendy explaining her recipe

WR : "Oh, really? I'd never have thought of that. A salad I do at home which I like is -- the only time I eat spinach is if it's raw and I do a raw spinach and raw mushroom salad, with watercress, chopped-up spring onions, and, um, what else do I put in it . . .? That's it. And a blue cheese dressing. I make my own blue cheese dressing. And I thought that's good, that's quite nourishing, I think."

TT : "And it's full of iron; fresh veggies. . . Very good. You do actually enjoy cooking, don't you?"

WR : "Yes."

TT (to the camera) : "We've actually met before, you see. We've worked together before . . ."

WR : "We did the Fowler's Fruit Pudding." (She gives a double thumbs-up) "We won a thousand pounds for 'Dogs for the Disabled', my charity!"

A brief clip is shown of the 1997 episode of Ready, Steady, Cook! which featured Wendy and Tony as one of the two competing cooking teams.

TT : "Have a little try of that cheese, and see what you think."

WR : "Yeah. Oh, it's quite sort of springy, isn't it?"

TT : "It does get almost rubbery when it's fried. Quite a salty cheese. I think once it's all mixed in . . ."

WR : "Oh, I can feel it squeaking on my teeth. Very strange; actually, it's not unpleasant, that." As an aside: "It'll be the best salad they ever made in this canteen!"

The episode continues with segments covering the other actors. At the end, Winton gives a wrap-up talk, but there is one final scene of Wendy back in the hair salon in which we saw her in Part Two.

WR : "Right, Dale. Here's the dreaded wrist weights that Shirley bought me. Out of the sitting room and out of the packet [packaging]. I think they go very well with the gold bracelets . . . Right, well, I've put them on." (Swings them up and down a bit.) "I think they're too big." (She smiles.) "I must have lost weight on my wrists!"

Part 1
25 Oct 99
Part 2
26 Oct 99
Part 3
27 Oct 99
Part 4
28 Oct 99
Part 5
29 Oct 99

Part 4 (28 Oct 99)

Part Four begins with an idyllic scene. Dressed very casually in jeans, shirt, and jacket, Ms. Richard is strolling through a lovely green park, accompanied by a companion and by her dog, Shirley. Wendy talks as they walk along; sometimes directly to the camera, sometimes as voice-over.

>A Walk in the Park

WR : "This is Hyde Park. We're very fortunate that we live close to two of the best parks [in London]. And Shirley on a good day is in here at least twice. . .

"Here she is! She's become a champion squirrel catcher. What she would actually do with one if she really got hold of it, I have no idea. She did catch one once, but I don't know who was more frightened, her or the squirrel.

"It's good exercise, but it's lovely scenery, and that's why I feel sorry for people you see running through the park, because they look as though they're in absolute agony. And when they're running, you miss all the lovely trees, when the leaves start turning color and everything. It's just a magical sight and I just don't see how you can appreciate it when you're running . . .

"Shirley I got when we were filming Grace And Favour, the follow-up to Are You Being Served?, so of course she's Shirley Brahms the Second. She appeared in one of the episodes as a guard dog. She had a scene with John Inman, and she was only one year old at the time [1992]. She looked so pretty; she always gets lot of 'oohs' and 'aahs' from the audience. And she gets fan mail from other cairn terriers, which I have to answer. And John says, 'it's a good thing the men in the white coats can't hear you, when you're reading out the letters to Shirley; I would think they would take you away . . .'

"Look, there's a squirrel -- oh, she's seen a squirrel. Shall I let her off the lead? . . . Now you see he's gone up a tree; she doesn't know what to do!"

A later scene has Winton and Woodyatt standing at the counter of Ian Beale's fish-and-chips shop on the Elstree set. Winton asks Woodyatt's opinion, too, about how the other participants were doing.

DW : ". . . Getting back to the other three that are taking part in this wonderful, wonderful thing we're doing. . . . Dish the dirt. How good are they going to be getting fit, do you think?"

AW (pauses to consider) : "I don't think you're going to change Wendy."

DW : "No, she doesn't seem to want to change, does she?"

AW : "I doubt if you're going to change Wendy. I think she's quite happy with her life-style as it is. Which is fair enough . . . but I'm sure you can manage a few little tweaks here and there . . ."

Part 1
25 Oct 99
Part 2
26 Oct 99
Part 3
27 Oct 99
Part 4
28 Oct 99
Part 5
29 Oct 99

Part 5 (29 Oct 99)

The final show begins with Ms. Richard dressed in a very sharp black jacket-and-skirt outfit, sitting on a sun-dabbled wooden bench with Dale Winton.

Wendy on a park bench

DW : "The question is: has Wendy Richard earned the right to a slice of [Tony Tobin's special end-of-program] cake? Wendy, I wonder, you've been at this for four weeks. You look fantastic . . . Is there a difference?"

WR : "Um, well . . . I can run up and down stairs a lot faster."

DW : "We've seen you with Shirley Brahms -- that's one fit dog!"

WR : "Oh, yes, we've decided now for Christmas she needs a remote control car. Because that gets her running around the park even more."

DW : "So what are you going to chase after, I wonder?"

WR "Oh, I don't know. Lie down in the sun [?]"

DW : "Well now, you've done the four weeks. The weights. We weren't sure they were going to appear properly or not. . . ."

WR : "Well, I did have them on my wrists for about ten minutes, but I think they've fallen down the back of the sofa now -- I'll have a look for them when I go home."

DW : "Right, so you're going to seriously have a go at them, regularly?"

WR : "Yes, I am. I mean, it's all right [not to use them] in the summer, 'cause you swim more and everything, you see? And that's good for all your muscle tone, really. But in the winter, I'm not so keen on swimming, so I shall have to get the weights out."

DW : "Now, there's one area which we haven't really covered, and I knew I was wasting my time, 'cause we're both smokers, so I know that to give up the cigarettes is difficult. Have you cut down at all?"

WR : "I have cut down. And I think, eventually, probably some time next year, I will stop."

DW : "Oh, really?"

WR : "I think so."

DW : (in a skeptical tone of voice): " 'I think so.' "(they both laugh) "Well, that is something we can look at next year. We're going to do a smoking program anyway, so I might collar you for that. The other thing I was going to ask about -- nutrition and food. Have you been watching what you're eating more carefully?"

WR :  "Well, you see, both the doctor and Tony, when we discussed food and diet and everything; I do eat sensibly anyway -- I mean, I know I love my curries and that -- but I mean curries are good for you, and everything in moderation, and then you're all right." (Then Wendy paused, and her voice took on a conspiratorial tone) "Except . . . I made this wonderful discovery the other day: microwave donuts, from Marks [and Spencer]. To die for!"

DW : "Are they very fattening?"

WR : "They're only tiny; there's only fifteen in a box. You can chump them down all right . . "

DW : "The problem is I could do fifteen in one sitting."

WR (seriously): "So can I! But you have to have a treat. If you're going to be quite strict with yourself over dieting and everything, about every ten days, you've got to have a treat."

DW : "Well, I think you look fabulous." (Gives her a kiss on the cheek.)

WR : "Oh, thank you. So do you."

DW : "Well done, Wendy."

Everyone gathered together

We last see Ms. Richard with the others actors at the conclusion of the show. Winton has gathered all of them together, along with the consultants, in the middle of the Square for a few words, and to share the cake that Tobin had prepared for the occasion.

Part 1
25 Oct 99
Part 2
26 Oct 99
Part 3
27 Oct 99
Part 4
28 Oct 99
Part 5
29 Oct 99

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