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WEEKEND, 14 May 1977

(Translated from the original Dutch)

During her visit to the Netherlands, sometimes Wendy Richard would burst into tears from fatigue.  But she did not want to disappoint her public . . .

"I'm Always Free For Weekend!"

"Miss Brahms, are you free?"  With this well-known question, posed many times in the TV series Are You Being Served?, Weekend met with the actress who plays the sexy counter girl.  She was meeting her colleagues from the series for the opening of the clothing boutique Fooks in Utrecht.  But Wendy Richard had little mind to speak to anyone.  She was trembling all over her body; she was not herself.

The previous evening, she'd been recording for eleven hours, and the next morning was up at 5 o'clock to be able to catch the plane to the Netherlands.  She was so fatigued and her nerves were frazzled.  However, the English actors and actresses are known for their professional approach to "serving their public".

This is the tale of an actress who is rather unknown in her own country, but who shall never disappoint her public.  Wendy Richard's public lives, as it so happens, in the Netherlands.

While the overpowering screech becomes audible from the mob in front of the clothing boutique who are becoming hysterical, William, Wendy's friend, tries to calm her.  "Why am I trembling like this?" she wonders to herself, despairingly.  She seeks with trembling fingers after a pack of cigarettes in her handbag, but doesn't have much success.  When Weekend helps her with it, she asks with a voice of ragged fatigue for a chair or stool.  She feels as if she is at the end of her strength, and finally she sits on the tread of a staircase.

The clamor of the public behind the barricade mix with the droning tones of rock music.  Through it all comes the voice of the disk jockey, admonishing the public.  "Don't crowd so, folks," he asks, "or accidents can happen."

He hardly finishes speaking when the first woman to become unwell is carried in by some strong police constables. Vacantly, she stammers the name of her idol:  "Captain Peacock, Captain Peacock."   When at the request of the manager, Captain Peacock -- the actor Frank Thornton -- brings her a cup of coffee to calm her, she immediately faints away at seeing her idol.  Wendy Richard watches the scene with eyes teared by emotion.  Suddenly one sees a smile on her lips, as if she laughs to herself about what is happening around the woman.  Also John Inman (Mr. Humphries), Molly Sugden (Mrs. Slocombe) and Trevor Bannister (Mr. Lucas) are clearly moved by the massive interest in their personages.

Whereas Wendy, giving out stickers with her picture and signature, says:  "This is really incredible.  How in heaven's name is this possible?  I am hardly known in England; I've only played in this series and not in any others.  But we must be madly popular here in Holland."  All of the sudden she stands up and runs almost blindly out, to meet the pressing crowd.  Up against the barricade she continues to stand, throwing over her signature stickers to the public.  She smiles bravely, but as a matter of course, she lets her tears run freely.  She dabs at them with a tissue, but when someone's glass of cognac, sitting on a step, is kicked over, she begins to cry again.

Later at midday, when the nerves had subsided and Wendy was full from a big lunch, the actress says that we mustn't think badly of her for all that has happened.  To give her a bit of a rest, Weekend drove with Wendy to the beautiful castle of Haarzuilens.  "How nice that you are doing this for me," she says in her typical dialect from Liverpool, that we known from the series.  [webmeister's note:  of course, Wendy's TV accent is east London, not Liverpool...]  Then she ponders:  "Wouldn't it be nice to take some pictures of me in my evening dress here at the castle.  But just thinking about unpacking my bags drops my courage down into my shoes."

Despite the signs of an impending downpour, the actress posed diligently and the results are [here to see].  With a weak voice, she said at our parting:  "would you say 'hi' to all the Dutch who watch Are You Being Served?  I love you."

And with a rapid, (?), magical smile, she adds:  "I'm always free for Weekend!"

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