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Appearances on Call My Bluff

1998 1999

Wendy on 'Call My Bluff'Wendy and her team captain Alan Coren were joined by actor Les Dennis. Sandi Toksvig's opposing team included a Scottish MP [Minister of Parliament] Alex Salmond and actor Nicholas Parsons, a long-time acquaintance of Wendy's from the Just a Minute radio series. After Bob Holness, the host, made his opening remarks, Alan introduced his team. About Ms. Richard he said "Now, it may not be Christmas, but there is still a great star showing in the East. She's that radiance from EastEnders; would you please welcome -- Wendy Richard!"

The first word was Liceling. Alan's team went first to define the word. Alan's claim was that it was an old German term of endearment. Then on to Wendy, who started slowly for dramatic effect: "Well . . . going back to your school days -- happy or not -- we all remember visits from . . the nit nurse. Remember those tiny, horrible steel combs that you draaaaaag through your hair? Well, apparently there has been quite an outbreak of lice in, um, you know, in various . . ." "Scottish" says Alan, mischievously to laughter by the audience. ". . . schools. In various schools and everything all over" continues Wendy. She goes on to describe them as "tiny, wee creatures, and they've got little legs, and --" putting her fingers to her hair "-- they latch onto your hair, and it's very easy for children to get infected one to another." She finally summarized by defining 'liceling' in her cutest voice as "a wee baby lice."

Les wrapped up by defining it as a traditional means of gathering shrimp. Sandi had to guess which of those definitions was true. She ruled out Les' and Alan's definition and settled on Wendy's as the correct meaning of the word, at which point there was a bit of unplanned levity, as Wendy apparently couldn't find the answer card in the holder in front of her on the desk. She nervously giggled as she flipped through the cards and Alan leaned over to help her. Finally, he pulled out the correct card, and Wendy put her head on the desk in mock embarrassment. But with a warm smile, she then displayed the card's answer and showed her definition was in fact the correct one!

Tirler. "Now . . . a 'tirler' is a real vocation; you have to be dedicated," began Wendy, warming quickly to the subject. "Because it's not something you can do every day. It's done a lot up in Scotland. But it can't be done regularly up there, because they don't have a lot of sun. And tirling is only something that can be done in the sunshine. Because a tirler is a man who cures and dries fish in the sun," she concluded with a voice so gentle and smile so warm that Nicholas Parsons seemed pleased and almost enchanted by her description. "So, you can imagine, while it's raining up there, people taking shelter and everything and taking refuge, with a brace of fish. But then, as soon as the sun comes out, they pop out and tirl away like mad . . ." she mimiced the action of turning fish on a table, ". . . curing and drying their fish." At that point, Sandi got silly and asked: "What's wrong with them?" Wendy, misunderstanding and evidently taking her literally, replied with just a touch of exasperation, "There's nothing wrong with them, dear. They've got to wait for the sun before they can do it--" Sandi tried again: "No. Why's he curing them then?" which elicits a mixture of laughter and groans from the audience and panels.

Les went on to offer the definition of "a thief in the night", and Alan said it was an term for the thrower of dice, which is what Parson quickly choose as the correct meaning.

Alabre. Wendy was on the spot to distinguish between the definitions of this word given by Sandi's team. Alex defined it as a type of flying squirrel; Nicholas as a Spanish street, and Sandi as an indeterminate type of fur. Wendy pondered these choices for a while. "Well, I don't know. I mean . . . I've never heard of a herd of squirrels before . . ." It is clear she's been stumped, and finally she admitted it: "I don't believe any of them," to general laughter. She finally chose the squirrels definition at random, but unfortunately, it turned out to be Sandi's description was the correct one.

Vendemeil. Les described it as having to do with grapes and wine; Alan as something that occurs every twenty years. And then it was Wendy's turn: "Well . . . In the fifteenth century, any ladies who had a lot of money, they used to wear these quite ridiculous headpieces. And there's one that had two bits coming out like that, you see . . ." She gestured expansively above her head. "And they used to drape fine cloth 'round it and a vendemeil is not a veil to hide the face, but it's one to hide the neck . . ." and she swept her hands about her own neck. "You see, I wouldn't have one, 'cause I haven't got any lines there yet; they've all gathered round here . . ." She gestured matter-of-factly to her eyes and cheeks. ". . . But, they wouldn't show their neck in public, and so they used to wear these headdresses with these vendemeils around here to hide their neck. . ." with her voice softly tapering off to hardly a gentle sigh by the end of the sentence.

If you ever have the fortune to hear the way Wendy did that description, you'll understand Alex's response: "I'd believe just about anything that Wendy told me." However, he does go on, though, finally to reject that definition and accept Alan's instead (which proved to be a bluff after all).

Overall, this was a pleasant appearance that showed to great advantage Ms. Richard's descriptive skills. And while she was quite lively and expressive while presenting the definitions, she had no problem maintaining a stern poker face during the appropriate spells when the opposing team member was trying to discern who is telling the truth and who is bluffing.

Wendy on 'Call My Bluff'Sandi Toksvig's team in 1999 included Lord Patrick Lichfield and John Sergeant, while Alan Coren's team was Wendy, of course, and Peter Polycarpou. At the start of the show, it was Alan who introduced Wendy. He said that Ms. Richard was on the show before and he also says that she has been with EastEnders for about 15 years. And ("to put it in the words of the Queen Mother . . .") that she is the *spirit* of EastEnders.

The first word was Beclumps. Alan's team took turns defining the word, but of course only one of them was telling the truth.

Alan said it meant 'clumsy'. Peter said it was a medieval drinking past-time. Then Ms. Richard told a story about a friend (probably a fictional one) who spent all her money on the wrong things on holiday, and in the end she didn't have enough money to buy a decent coat to go skiing. She went anyway and after having been up on the ski lift and down again a couple of times, she went to a bar and she was very cold and very wet. And that is what beclumps meant: cold and wet.

Sandi had to guess which of those definitions was true. She thought that Ms. Richard's story could be true, but ended up choosing Alan's explanation. Surprise! Wendy's explanation was in fact the correct one!

Tediferous. It was up to Alan's team again to do some bluffing. Peter said it meant something that contained iron. Alan said it meant carrying a torch. Ms. Richard told a story about two of her 'mates': one will always start to blow dry her hair the moment she knows she has to go somewhere; the other is someone who needs to be told to come half an hour early, otherwise, she'll be half an hour late. (Parenthetically, Ms. Richard explained she hates it when people are late all the time, because she is very punctual herself.) So, accordingly to Wendy, 'tediferous' meant people who are too late all the time.

Again, Sandi's team had to guess who was telling the truth. It's not clear who they choose, but it turned out that Alan's definition was correct.

Armlich. Sandi's team provided the definitions, and Wendy and her team had to guess which explanation was the correct one. Patrick said it is a cat that sits perfectly still and is very harmless. (Ms. Richard's observation: "Sounds dead to me.") Sandy said it was a toothless animal. John said it meant 'miserable'.

Now it was up to Ms. Richard to guess who was telling the truth. She said that the word didn't sound feline to her, so she didn't choose Patrick's explanation. She then said that Sandi did a very good job with all the accents. "You've got a wonderful future ahead of you!" That made Sandi and the audience laugh, and Sandi commented that her wonderful future was already behind her. Then Ms. Richard said she though John was telling the truth -- and she was right! She was clearly very surprised and pleased that she guessed the right answer.

Ibogain. Back to Alan's team again for definitions. Peter said it is a zebra-like mammal. Alan said it is a sort of bush with a special kind of nut. His remark: "It has nuts, not unlike many other things" made it quite hard for Ms. Richard to subsequently tell her story with a straight face! She started out by explaining that, according to her, ibogain is a sort of carpentry. As she spoke, she engaged in the most delightful gesturing -- as if actually handling woodwork -- while telling how it was the kind of carpentry that you find in a cabinet that has a drawer in it. And apparently there was something in the drawer as well... She went on to explain that it was the kind of thing that stops a log cabin from rolling away! "Oh, I forgot the word now!" Wendy continued on explaining about the carpentry and threw in a charming smile at the end. (Webmeister's note: I have no info about whether the other team guessed correctly or not; however, I suspect that Alan's definition was correct, since I've heard the word used in connection with a type of West African rain forest plant.)

There was at least one more word after that explained by Sandi's team, and there is no information on which team eventually won. But judging from the above, Call My Bluff proved to be a real thinker's game (something that the vast majority of televised game shows fall glaringly short of achieving) and a competition which Ms. Richard seemed to do quite well at. She was a . . . lot better looking than [her EastEnders character] Pauline Fowler would have you believe. Wendy is also very articulate, but you can still hear a London accent, and sometimes it sounded like Pauline Fowler speaking. The format of the game is such that there isn't actually too much interaction between the players, apart from the gentle witty comments between opposing players. But it was clear that Wendy was enjoying herself and was well-liked by the others.

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