Depending on the role, Ms. Richard's voice ran the gamut from silky and sensual to harsh and abrasive. So is it any wonder that on occasion, over the years, she lent her vocal expression to the medium that best presents it?
Here are some of the radio programs she worked on or appeared on as a guest. Information is a bit sketchy; modest details and few dates. Can't say yet whether most of these were series or one-time shots.
According to this article at the BBC website, Wendy was also to have participated in a radio series entitled Letters to Ambridge celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Archers radio serial. However, as of yet, I have no evidence whether this program of hers actually took place or not. It was scheduled for January 2001.
After the surprising success in the 1970s of the television series of this name, most of the episodes were transcribed into and broadcast as radio productions. Ms. Richard participated in four of these. In May of 1974, she recorded the episodes Mum's Army, The King Was in His Counting House and War Dance. Interesting, in the latter of these three, she plays a third character, Violet Gibbons. She was brought back in May of 1975 to record My British Buddy as, of course, Shirley.
Although a number of the radio adaptations were released on LPs, none of
Ms. Richard's episodes are among the collections. However, it has come
to my attention that her radio episodes, in MP3 format, have been
available recently on the Usenet newsgroup
alt.binaries.sounds.radio.oldtime. The episodes appear at irregular
intervals (or by request) and are usually distributed as twenty or so
logical packages which must be melded together (typically by one's
newsreader software) into a single .MP3 file for listening.
This is a clever little game show that has been running for some decades on the British high-brow Radio Four station. The rules are deceptively simple: a guest must talk non-stop about an assigned topic without changing the subject, repeating himself (or herself), or pausing. Of course, this is much harder than it sounds, but everyone involved seems to have a lot of fun in the process. The BBC's Hitchhiker's Guide has more info about the rules and the history of the game. EastEnders fan Andy Clews notes that "just like Call My Bluff, it's just a bit of fun (often hilarious, in fact) and is a good test of wit, articulation and word power. Wendy was pretty good at this, and she obviously has a good way with words."
Ms. Richard guest-starred on the show repeated over at least 15 years, appearing for the first time on a broadcast aired on 12 May 88. Her style was uniquely hers, of course. When she launched into her attempts at 60-second discourses, she tended to talk about her own experiences; so, besides being most entertaining, these offer an added bonus of providing some interesting insights into her attitudes and likes and dislikes about many things.
I'm told that the show can occasionally be heard in the US on the BBC's WorldWide Service, but finding a schedule and catching a specific program can be problematic.
Some of the transcripts of the Just A Minute radio show have surfaced on the Web. Here are two which featured Wendy as one of the contestants:
This program, which aired on BBC Radio Four, was a comedy about the life and trials of a radio advertisement writer named Ken Handley (played by Martin Jarvis). According to the RadioHaHa website, there were two series of the show produced: one in 1984 and the next in 1986, both of six episodes. The humor of the series is mild and pleasing, the language is G-rated (at least, in the episodes I've heard), and the scenes of each show are interspersed with odd, often bizarre, pseudo-commercial announcements. While the series is a jab at the advertising industry (think of the opposite of all the adjectives in the title . . .), it doesn't have nearly the sting of other industry satires, such as that, say, which Made in Canada administers to the world of television production. Much of the appeal of LDH&T is in listening to how the various characters speak to and interact with each other. Overall, the show is funny, well-written, and certainly worth a listen. Even years later, Wendy recalled the show favorably, saying it "was very enjoyable" working on the show.
Wendy appeared in at least four of the first-season (1984) episodes, where she provided the voice for June, the London ad agency's office secretary who's caught up in Handley's schemes and predicaments. Wendy gets a few punchlines, though mostly she's supporting the other main characters. She's instantly recognizable, with her "glass" voice and impeccable timing. As a bonus, one gets a delightful echo of Pauline Fowler poking through here and there, especially when June's peeved.
A sampler of some of Wendy's lines:
The radio series is not presently available commercially, though one can find recordings of the show circulating around, if one looks hard enough.
On 9 Oct 05, Wendy was a featured guest on this popular BBC 2 Sunday morning talk show. The interview occurred just a few days before a new Carry On Christmas DVD set was to be released, so the timing was probably not coincidental. In any case, the interview (a little over 15 minutes in length) is a delightful listen, with both Michael Parkinson and Wendy seeming at ease and speaking freely. There are the usual questions about her life and work: Wendy speaks at length about her desire to have done more movies; some of the consequences of her recurring illness; her early days on television; offers kind words about her colleague, Barbara Windsor; and provides a glimpse into the total commitment required of actors working on EastEnders.
On 25 Nov 00, Wendy did an interview on this lively mid-afternoon talk show. I suspect the appearance was probably part of the publicity for her new book, which had just come out a few weeks earlier. The interview seemed to go pretty well; for about ten minutes, she answered questions about her career, her life, and her new autobiography, and held her own well against the host's sometimes facetious remarks. The transcript of the show (which I doubt will be broadcast again any time soon) conveys some new and interesting insights on various subjects, though you really have to have heard her talk in her own words to properly appreciate the interview. As is normal with this sort of show, her part was almost certainly broadcast live, so the conversation between Wendy and Wright isn't quite as tight and polished as, say, her well-edited Heaven and Earth television interview last year.
Wendy noted that she had done a lot of work for Radio 4. One of those bits was an appearance on a game show called Wireless Wise, noted a web page of The Times (archived link). This show aired in late November of 2000. The premise is that a panel of "experts" is asked questions about "wireless" [radio] history, and The Times seems to have seen this as an exercise in esoterica. According to the article, joining Wendy were Gloria Hunniford, Frank Delaney, Libby Purves, and Steve Wright.
Note that the Wireless Wise web page (archived copy) refers to her participation in a new series of the show, but with a somewhat different list of co-stars than those noted above.
Another piece Wendy did for Radio 4 was a short ten-minute talk show interview, which was originally aired on 9 Jan 07. The talk is light and casual, with Wendy mostly speaking of the work she will be doing after leaving EastEnders. Especially of interest is her detailed and passionate explanation of just why she left the show after so many years.
Radio 4's website for Woman's Hour has a link where one may hear a Real Audio playback of the interview. If that doesn't work, here is an informal transcript of her conversation.