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WOMAN'S OWN, 18 June 1990

'Marrying Paul Just Felt So Right'

EastEnders star Wendy Richard put two unhappy marriages behind her when she said 'I do' to fianc Paul Glorney.  Until then, she had resigned herself to living life alone.  But now the actress has not only found Mr. Right but a ready made family, too.

Day after day, Wendy Richard pulls on some old clothes, puts on a glum face and turns herself into one of the most fed-up and washed-out characters on the box.  Poor old Pauline Fowler -- if it's not something going on in the Square, it's one of the kids, or Arthur, or Pete . . .

No wonder Wendy looked forward to a rare day off, when she could take a rest from Pauline's troubles and wear that new outfit she'd bought -- a Frank Usher cream suit with matching court shoes, set off by a blue butterfly necklace.  She'd also had her hair pinned up and dressed with delicate strands of Gypsophila.  After all, it was special occasion -- March 17, St. Patrick's Day.  There was a wedding to go to and Wendy was the beautiful bride.

 Mrs. Paul Glorney is still glowing.  "It was brilliant, wasn't it?" she says, turning to her new husband.  "Everybody's still talking about it."

About 150 people, including Paul's three children from a previous marriage and some of the cast of EastEnders, were invited to witness their marriage blessing at the local church after a civil ceremony.

"It was lovely," sighs Wendy.  "The choir was fantastic and the vicar was an absolute sweetheart.  He spoke so beautifully and made the blessing as much like a marriage service as it could have been.

"Actually," she says, with a smile that lights up her face, "it was quite funny, because we didn't have time for a rehearsal and in the middle of taking our vows he suddenly whispered, 'I didn't ask you if you'd obey.'  Immediately, Paul and his best man both said together, 'No, she won't.'

"Out of the corner of my eye, I could see June Brown (Dot), Letitia Dean (Sharon) and Sue Tully (Michelle) all giving me the thumbs up!"

After the service, the newly-weds held a reception at a local pub.  "One newspaper made it sound like a knees-up," says Wendy.  "But it was a lovely place and it all worked out very well.  I just wish we could do it over again so we could be more relaxed and take stock of everything."

Like any couple, both Paul, 40, and Wendy, 44, suffered pre-wedding nerves.  "I was petrified!" says Wendy.  "It was worse than doing the first night of a stage show.  At nine o'clock in the morning my hairdresser came round and, while she was doing my hair, I must have spent a penny 20 times.  I thought, 'I'm never going to make this.'

"After the register office, we were driven to the church, and I was desperate to go to the loo again.  So they took me down to the crypt where I nearly went head first over a chair.  That would have looked really good, wouldn't it, going down the aisle with my tights torn and my knees skinned!"

She laughs at the thought and looks at her handsome Irish husband, who admits he was also terrified on the day.  "Scared witless, I was so nervous my shirt was absolutely stuck to me."

But for most of the weekend, Paul and Wendy were simply in happy daze.  "People were stopping me in the street and saying congratulations," says Paul.  "I couldn't believe it.  It was like Christmas Day when everyone is really friendly.  It was like that the whole weekend."

"Yes," says Wendy.  "The day after the wedding we went out for lunch and the staff all lined up as we walked in and said congratulations.  We felt like royalty."

But if they were walking on air all weekend, both bumped down to ground on the Monday morning when they went off to work, Paul to his job as carpet fitter and Wendy back to Albert Square's Pauline Fowler and her old clothes.

"They were very pleased with me because I knew my lines," she recalls, laughing.  "But it would have been nice to have been able to go away on honeymoon."

The wedding date was chosen not just because it was St Patrick's Day but because it also marked the fourth anniversary of their very first date -- a dinner date that Paul will never forget.

"I was feeling a bit awkward because it was the first time I'd been out on my own with Wendy and people do tend to notice her.  We were sitting in this restaurant and the first thing she did was to accidently put her cigarette out in the butter dish.  I said, 'I'm supposed to be the Irish one here!'  So then she moved the butter dish and put her elbow in it.  It really broke the ice, and we've been walking out ever since."

"Some papers have tried to make it sound like I picked Paul up in a pub," says Wendy.  "I did not.  Paul's brother used to live round the corner and would come into my local and I knew him by sight to say hello to.  Then one day, I saw him with Paul and, as a joke, I said, 'I see you've got your son with you.'  He said, 'Do you mind, this is my baby brother.'  I thought he looked attractive, but I didn't get carried away!  I just said hello, and went to join my friends."

After that, Paul and Wendy kept bumping into each other in the street or in their local, but it took Paul five weeks to ask Wendy out to dinner.  "When I met her I thought she was nice but I didn't want to ask her out because she's well-known and probably got bothered all the time."

Since then, Paul has had to get used to all the attention a soap star like Wendy attracts.  He remembers occasions when he would be totally ignored, or pushed aside; when fans would interrupt a quiet evening out; when he and Wendy would get into a cab and find five press men following them; not to mention being regarded simply as Wendy Richard's beau.

"It was a little bit disconcerting to start with because I felt like a fly under the microscope," he says.  "But most of the time I don't think about 'Wendy Richard'."

"It's just a job really," says the actress, who first found major television success as Miss Brahms in Are You Being Served?  But it's as Pauline Fowler that Wendy has become one of Britain's most famous stars, and she just re-signed for 12 months in EastEnders with an option for another 12.

"I think Pauline is the best part in EastEnders, quite honestly," says Wendy.  "She has sympathy and a lot of warmth.  I feel so sorry for her -- she's had a miserable life in some respects but she's got great kids, and Arthur, when he has got a job, is a hardworking husband."

But Pauline is such a depressing part to play.  "Well, it was when Arthur was having his breakdown.  You'd go home and think how sad it was that day.  But things are getting lighter now and that's very exciting.  EastEnders will be number one again, I know," says Wendy, conscious of the ratings competition with other soaps.  "It's a jolly good show and I'm very proud to be in it."

The cast members closest to Wendy and Paul were all invited to the wedding -- June Brown, Letitia Dean, Sue Tully and Gretchen Franklin, as well as Anna Wing and Michael Cashman, who have left.

But it was proud Peter Dean (Pauline's brother, Pete Beale in the show) who gave Wendy away, because, since the death of her mother nearly 20 years ago, and her father's suicide when she was just 11, Wendy has had no family.

But the wedding day wasn't a time for feeling sad about it.  "I've been on my own for so many years, you just get used to it.  It was nice that Peter gave me away.  We're close friends with him and his wife, Jean, and I do appreciate my friends very much indeed.  In that respect I'm very lucky and a very rich person."

And Wendy has certainly needed her friends in the past.  After two unhappy marriages, she's known what it's like to be emotionally, and physically, battered, and once even contemplated suicide.  But now she's philosophical about the past.

"I don't think back," says Wendy.  "You should never look over your shoulder.  And if you've had a rough time it makes you appreciate meeting someone who really is very good and very kind.

"Paul is -- nice isn't a very good word," says Wendy, thinking.  "He's a good man, and there was such a good omen about our relationship.  So I wasn't nervous about getting married again because we're happy together and it just felt right."

Paul obviously shares the sentiment.  "When I first met Wendy I just saw this really happy face, with a smile from ear to ear and beautiful eyes which were twinkling, and I couldn't help but look at her and fall in there," he says.

The romantic Irishman proposed two years ago but had to save up for an engagement ring -- a pretty emerald with a diamond on each side. As soon as Wendy was wearing the ring, the set the date.  So now that they're Mr. and Mrs., and both wearing wedding rings, does it feel different?

"It does really," says Wendy.  "The only way I can describe it is that it's like an inner peace."

And by marrying Paul, it's given Wendy a ready-made family.  At "40-several" [webmeister's note:  Wendy was 46 at the time], she feels it's too late to have children, but now there's Emily, 15, Natalie, 13, and Liam, 11, and this year Wendy received her first ever Mother's Day card.

"I was absolutely chuffed," she says, her bright blue eyes brimming with tears.  "It was really great.  I was so touched.  It's still sitting on the mantelpiece."

Home for Wendy and Paul is an area of London known as Marylebone Village and, as they both work long hours, they like nothing better than staying in and relaxing.

"People must think we lead very boring lives," says Wendy, laughing.  "But we don't go out very often!  We love our curry once a week and we'll have a drink with our mates on a Friday night and Saturday and Sunday lunchtime, but that's all," she says.

Do they share the same interests?

"Apart from football, snooker, darts . . "

"I don't watch a lot of football," says Paul.

"You watch any sort of sport at all," splutters Wendy.  "You know you do.  You'll watch anything!"

So what annoys Paul about Wendy?  "When she gets back from work and she won't leave it alone.  Normally, if she's had a little trouble, she'll get it off her chest and that's it, but when she harps on for too long, I have to tell her, 'You've had your say, now bury it and relax'."

"And I snore," says Wendy.

"Yes, she snores."

Sport and snoring aside, it's a happy home, says Wendy, lots of laughter, "mostly at my expense.  You know how you can tell as soon as you walk into a house whether it's a home or a place where someone just stay," she says.  "Well, ours has a nice, happy atmosphere, even if it's like a madhouse, with bird feathers all over the place."

The blame lies with Henry, a little cockatiel.

"It was Paul's idea that we get a pet bird, but who's the one who cleans out the cage?  Me," she says, laughing.  "And when the poor little bird flies around, sometimes Paul shouts at it, 'If you're not careful I'll make you into a sandwich', but all Henry wants is a fuss.

"If anybody could see us through the window, walking around with a little bird on our heads!"

At the back of the flat, there's a little patio which Paul enjoys working on.  "We're going to do it all in red, white and blue this year," says Wendy.  "That's me being patriotic.  He'd rather green, white and gold, but I'm not having it."

When it comes to working inside the flat, Paul, of course, laid all the carpets.  "He's brilliant at anything below the skirting-board," says Wendy, "but he's not so hot on making the bed."

It sounds a warm and down-to-earth home life, and one that Wendy never envisaged, fearing she'd never ever meet Mr. Right.

"I'd resigned myself to being on my own," she says.  "In fact, I was going to get a dog, but I couldn't get permission to take it to work.  And with the hours I do it wouldn't have been fair to leave it on its own.  So I ended up with Paul and a little dickie bird!"

And from the look on Wendy Richard's face, it seems like a very happy ending.

Victoria Freedman

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