Tribute was paid today to actress Wendy Richard, who has died at the age of 65.
Director-General, Mark Thompson, said: “I am enormously saddened by the news of Wendy’s death. Her countless BBC appearances across decades, especially as Miss Brahms in Are You Being Served? and then as Pauline Fowler in EastEnders, lit up living rooms for millions of British families who regarded her as a member of the family. That was an enormous achievement.
“Millions of viewers and listeners across the world will mourn her passing today and and she will be hugely missed.”
John Yorke, Head Of Drama Production & New Talent, said: “It is impossible to overstate Wendy’s contribution to EastEnders. For 22 years, whether she was bemoaning Arthur’s bad luck, cursing her children’s wayward nature or reminding us all once again that it was ‘all about family’, it was impossible for anyone to mention EastEnders without the iconic image of Pauline coming to mind.
“It is hard now to imagine the bravery of casting Wendy as Pauline, so succesful and utterly identifiable in the role did she become. She was one of the foundation stones of the show, and with her death EastEnders is diminished. She will be much missed by all of us.”
Jana Bennett, Director, BBC Vision, said: “Wendy Richard’s death is a huge loss and our thoughts are with her family and loved ones at this very sad time.
“Wendy was one of our greatest television actresses, best known for her role in Are You Being Served? as the glamorous Miss Shirley Brahms, at Grace Brothers’ department store, before taking on the role of one of soap’s most famous matriarchs as Pauline Fowler in EastEnders.
“She started in EastEnders in the very first episode back in February 1985, and became an vital part of life in Albert Square right up until her departure in 2006. Wendy made an enormous contribution to British drama – she was hugely respected and will be much missed.”
Fellow EastEnders cast member, Adam Woodyatt, said: “I am so sorry to hear the very sad news about Wendy’s death. I have many fond memories of our time together at EastEnders and will remember her with affection. Knowing that she is no longer in pain and suffering is the only comfort and I hope she rests in peace. My deepest sympathies are with John, their family and friends.”
And Jon Altman said: “I am shocked and saddened to hear the news today. I always enjoyed working with Wendy, even though our characters were poles apart. I will always treasure the memories of a trip we shared together around the Mediterranean on the QE2 with her husband John and my mother Tina. The world of show business will certainly be a sadder place without her.”
Fellow actress, Pam St Clement, said: “I was very saddened to hear of the death of Wendy who was a friend and colleague for many years. My thoughts are with John.”
Barbara Windsor said: “Wendy was always a tough lady and I thought she would win this battle. It’s very sad and my thoughts are with John.”
Molly Sugden, who starred alongside Wendy in Are You Being Served?, said: “How can I express my grief on hearing of the loss of Wendy. She has been part of my life for so long, almost like one of the family. Many happy memories.
“Although she had no children of her own, she instinctively knew about little boys and my two idolised her. She was the daughter I never had and I shall never stop missing her.
“She lives on in the hearts of so many people who were entertained by her talent and warmed by her charm. It is a sad day and may God bless her.”
Tonight’s episode of EastEnders will be dedicated to Wendy Richard. It will be followed at 8.00pm by a tribute programme titled, Wendy Richard: A Tribute.