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TITBITS, 21 February 1981

Why Wendy Broke Her Marriage Vow

Her mother's death led TV's funny-girl Wendy Richard into a disastrous marriage.  Wendy, the busty Miss Brahms in Are You Being Served? was worried about taking over her mum's hotel opposite St. Pancreas station in London.

She rushed into marriage with businessman and former music publisher Len Black.  It lasted just five months.  "I married in haste," admits Wendy, 36.  "I needed somebody to lean on at the time.  I vowed after the divorce, never again!"  And the hotel venture didn't last, either . . .   Wendy eventually sold the business.

Then she fell in love with Will Thorpe, who was busy directing TV commercials.  At first she was wary.  She says:  "Our relationship was very on-off."

Wendy -- Middlesbrough-born, despite her Cockney image -- and Will lived together for about six years.  But last year -- on Leap year's Day -- it was Wendy who popped the question to Will, 39.

Will has two children from his first marriage.  Wendy dotes on them, although they live with Will's former wife.  She says:  "I don't think I can afford to have children of my own.  I've never made a fortune out of show-business, and I need to keep working."

Wendy seems to have been dogged by had luck when it comes to money.  When she was 18, she made a record called Come Outside with pop singer Mike Sarne.  The disc sold over 500, 000 copies, but Wendy picked up only 15 for it.

In 1971, she won rave notices for her cameo role in Gumshoe, her first film part.  "But my agent just didn't push my career at all," she recalls.  "People were tipping me for movie stardom, and I was really excited about the future.  But it didn't work out."

Wendy has only made a few films since then, including the screen version of Are You Being Served? and a couple of the Carry On series.  Still, Wendy has rarely been out of TV work, and a new series of the popular BBC department store comedy starts shooting in the spring.

And the future?  "Over the next 10 years, I would like to be known as a good character actress -- I expect mostly in comedy."

Mike Bennett

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