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Wendy's EastEnders' Big Spender

Gill Pringle released the sex symbol that lurks beneath Pauline Fowler's trademark cardi.  Chic, glam and with a taste for designer silks the real Wendy Richard stepped forward to be photographed at her best by Steve Shipman

Pauline's straight grey hair and nylon overall don't inspire visions of loveliness.  But put that down to the great acting on Wendy Richard's part.  In fact, the 45-year-old [sic] from Teesside has the perfect figure for the Frank Usher clothes she adores.  And her glossy blonde hair really is a crown.

If Albert Square's EastEnder Pauline set eyes on Wendy in her glad rags, she wouldn't Adam 'n' Eve it.  All that designer gear must be worth thousands!  And, of course, it is.

For when blue-eyed, blonde Wendy Richard leaves the EastEnders set, she waves goodbye to Pauline's synthetics and slips into silks worth a fortune.  And she admits, "You could say I'm an impulse buyer."

Wendy's taste for exotic clothes developed when she was a 16-year-old junior in the fashion department of top people's store Fortnum & Mason in London.  "Fortnum's have always had the most beautiful, expensive clothes and I got to see elegant ladies come and go.  I watched with envy rich Duchesses and county types trying on designer clothes, like those by designer Frank Usher.  Katherine Hepburn and Anne Todd used to pop in, too.  I'd wonder, 'Will I ever afford Frank Usher's clothes.'  I was on 3. 8s. 4d. a week then!"

Now she can splash out on his creations and matching accessories, like her 35-pair collection of shoes.  Accessories are one of Wendy's weaknesses.  As well as owning lots of shoes and hundreds of socks in every shade of the rainbow, she collects handbags -- and hats, which she buys from her favourite shop, Herbert Johnson in London.

Wendy, who's busy decorating her new house off London's Baker Street with husband, carpet fitter, Paul Glorney, 39, says,  "Once I went to buy a magazine rack because Paul kept telling me off for throwing newspapers on the floor.  I couldn't find one, so I ended up in Bally Shoes and came out with three pairs.  I was depressed after getting a big tax demand so I suppose I made it worse.  But they're worth every penny."

Wendy goes for bold bright colors in clothes that match her personality. Red is her firm favorite -- a top fashion choice with everyone at the moment, replacing long-standing black.  Blue is another color she loves but she won't touch green at any cost.  "I'm really superstitious," she says.  "And I think that green is just bad news.

"My favorite clothes are smart trouser-suits or skirt-suits.  Recently, I bought three pairs of trousers from a shop in Marylebone.  I'd been told the shop was very reasonable, so I didn't ask how much they were until I handed over my American Express card.  I nearly collapsed when I saw it was over  300.  I tried not to bat an eyelid but I staggered up the road reeling from shock."

But there's a bit of Fowler thrift in Wendy -- she's never slow to spot a bargain on street markets.  "I browse round my local Church Street market or go to Leather Lane in Holborn.  I'm a great believer in supporting them.  I've bought leather handbags from markets, polo shirts for Paul as well as fruit and veg.

"I spend more than most on clothes but I do object to paying through the nose.  I I flick through Vogue, I look at the prices and think, 'That's a . . . lot of mortgage money.'  But I'll buy an expensive Aquascutum coat because I know it'll last a lifetime and never go out of style.  And by walking to the shops, I save money and exercise, too."

Unlike poor Pauline who rarely escapes from Albert Square, Wendy and Paul regularly take off for romantic breaks at Shrublands health farm in Suffolk.  "It's pretty strict and is one of the best health farms around.  We love to go there, and I've been going since the '60s.  Last time I went, I treated myself to a wax bath which sweats out the skin's impurities.  It left me feeling wonderful.  I was coated in hot wax which hardens as it cools -- I looked like an ornamental candle.  I couldn't move at all so they had to scratch my nose when it was itchy.  Then they peeled off the wax and wrapped me in warm blankets.  My skin felt as smooth as alabaster."

Wendy pampers her face, too, with expensive Clarins cleansers.  She has a pedicure twice a year and exfoliates her skin regularly with a body scrub.  "I started having facials 25 years ago -- they do you a power of good.  And I don't know what I'd do without my masseur, George.  He visits me on set every Thursday -- when I have a long gap between scenes he gets to work.  I've slipped my disc a couple of times so I appreciate how therapeutic a massage can be.

"And I couldn't go without my fortnightly manicure," says Wendy, flashing her long, varnished talons.  "I do everything to Pauline as realistic as possible but I draw the line at filing my nails down.  I'm very proud of them, they're all my own, and I go to Super Nail in Crawford Street for manicures.  I'm fortunate in that I've inherited my father's nice hands and I've always taken care of them.  I can't bear to see bitten fingernails."

Wendy doesn't risk breaking her perfect nails doing the laundry.  "I send my bed linen to a professional cleaning service and all the ironing, too.  I love the luxury of sleeping on crisp, laundered sheets.  It's one of the benefits of being in regular employment."

The only time Wendy genuinely looks below par is when she suffers one of her terrible hay fever attacks.  "I didn't even know I had it until I became Pauline Fowler," she says.  "The trouble is we record the show at BBC studios out at Elstree, which is in the countryside.  All that pollen is guaranteed to set me sneezing -- my eyes look like two red Polo mints by the end of the day."

"Clarins eye gel, which most chemists stock, is my salvation.  It takes down the puffiness.  What I really hate is to have to resort to are antihistamines because they make me drowsy.  I'm planning to try a special allergy clinic in Harley Street that a friend swears by."

A change of diet has also occurred to the star.  "My screen hubby, Bill Treacher, is on the Hay Diet, in fact quite a few of the cast follow it.  Among other things, it's recommended for allergies.  The basic idea is to avoid mixing protein and carbohydrates at any meal."

Now Wendy's playing buxom Miss Brahms again in Grace and Favour, she needs the right support for her shapely 40-28-36 figure.  "I buy my bras at John Lewis and spend a lot on them -- it's important.  My pants are from Marks & Spencer.  All my underwear is white cotton.  I can't stand colored undies."

"I keep in trim by doing Pilates exercises with a tutor.  I do a few sessions when I can't wear my favorite skirts without breathing in to fasten up.  But even if I'm not dieting, it's great for my shape, especially the legs.  When I first got the exercise bug, I wore coordinating leotard, tights and matching hair bow.  After five minutes I was sweating like mad and the bow dropped out!  There's nothing glamorous about exercise.

"Now we have a house, going up and down stairs keeps the weight off.  And most mornings I take our Cairn terrier Shirley, a present from Paul, for a walk.  She even had a walk-on part in EastEnders and would steal the show from Rolly if they let her on in another episode.  There was a bit of panic when she accidentally ate a packet of my Oil of Evening Primrose.  The vet said Shirley was fine and probably wouldn't have PMT for years!" laughs Wendy, who also takes daily doses of Vitamins A, B, and E, and ginseng.  "I try to eat healthily and cook meals with lots of fresh greens but I can't resist Indian takeaways.  I don't drink spirits, though I enjoy a glass of champagne.  I don't think it's over-the-top, most London pubs do it by the glass now, just like they sell a glass of wine."

Champagne may be the norm for Wendy but it's simple pleasures she treasures most.  "After a busy day, I just like to go home to Paul.  I change into jeans and we sit watching TV like a couple of slobs.  If I'm honest, that's when I'm happiest.  I bought a giant yellow type of baby-grow [body suit] from the market to lounge around in at home.  Paul said, 'You look like an overblown banana!' and we rolled about laughing.  Laughter is one of the healthiest things around -- and it's free."

Hair and make-up perfect, her shapely size 14 figure draped in an exclusive Frank Usher outfit, Wendy looks superb.  Could she see Pauline wowing them in the Queen Vic like this?

"The producers have suggested changing Pauline's image," she admits.  "But I refused point blank.  I told them they should leave her alone.  She is a down-to-earth, working mum who hasn't the time or the money for clothes.  And I love her as she is.

"I know a lot of the viewers will hardly recognise me like this.  But I adore designer clothes that show off my figure, on TV you wouldn't know I had a figure under all those layers of cardigans I have to wear.  But I don't mind looking the frump on TV because when I finish working dressing-up is a real treat for me to look forward to.

"The only thing that ever upset me about the part was having to cut my hair off to play Pauline, at the beginning.  That nearly broke my heart.  But to start with it was essential to stop viewers confusing Pauline with Miss Brahms.  It was great when finally let me grow it back.

"I love playing Pauline, probably because there's a little bit of the East End housewife in me.  The other day I was taking my stuff to the laundry when I bumped into Barbara Windsor laden with shopping.  'Look at us two', she said.  'Like a couple of middle aged housewives.'  I had to laugh and say, 'But that's what we are!' "

Gill Pringle

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