The funeral of popular actress Wendy Richard takes place today in Central London.
The private affair is expected to be attended by over one hundred cast and crew members from the BBC’s flagship soap, EastEnders.
Having quietly braved a third battle against cancer Wendy died last month in the Harley Street Clinic with her forth husband – who she only married last October – John Burns, by her side. Wendy had numerous television roles over the years but her two most remembered are those of Shirley Brahams in the sitcom Are You Being Served? and as Pauline Fowler in EastEnders.
The service, which is being held at St Marylebone Parish Church in Central London, will be attended by fellow actors such as Todd Carty, James Alexandrou, Natalie Cassidy, Adam Woodyatt and June Brown.
According to some press reports the BBC Elstree studio complex will be at a virtual standstill today as the EastEnders schedule has been re-worked to allow the cast and crew to pay their respects. Speaking last week Carty – Mark Fowler in ‘Enders – paid tribute to his onscreen mum in The Mirror newspaper:
“I knew from the start that we would get along.. ..From that day, she watched my back and fought my corner. But it was strange that Miss Brahms from Are You Being Served? was my mum. Blokes my age knew her as a pin-up, right up there with Debbie Harry – absolutely gorgeous. But she quickly became a second mum to me. Together with Bill Treacher (Arthur Fowler) and Sue Tully (Michelle Fowler) we had a tight family unit, a solid chemistry, which I hope came across on screen.”
Other on-screen son, James Alexandrou – Martin Fowler for eleven years – paid an emotional tribute to Richard on both BBC News and This Morning. The actor, who every year sent Wendy a Mothersday card, said:
“She brought me up on set and taught me to be a lovely young professional.”
A BBC tribute programme, aired on the day Wendy died, gained almost six million viewers for BBC One.