Stars mourn for Wendy Richard

More than a hundred EastEnders stars gathered today for Wendy Richard's funeral.

Todd Carty, who played on-screen son Mark in the soap, Dad’s Army’s Ian Lavender and Trevor Bannister from Are You Being Served? were due to lead tributes as more than 1,000 mourners crammed into a star-studded service for the actress, best-known as for playing Walford’s matriarch Pauline Fowler.

The 65-year-old died last month after a long battle with cancer with husband John Burns at her side.

Fans of Wendy, who also played Miss Brahms in the hit sitcom Are You Being Served?, lined the streets outside St Marylebone Parish Church in London.

Carty was close to tears as he arrived for the ceremony shortly after Barbara Windsor (Peggy Mitchell) walked in with co-stars Steve McFadden (Phil Mitchell) and Patsy Palmer (Bianca Jackson).

Letitia Dean (Sharon Watts), who arrived at the church with Ricky Groves (Gary Hobbs) and June Brown (Dot Branning), told reporters: “Wendy is going to love this.”
Groves added: “We’ll have a drink for her.”

On arrival, mourners received an order of service, which included Wendy’s favourite chilli con carne recipe.

Speaking after the service Lavender described her as “a great icon for ordinary folk”.
He added: “It was a beautiful and funny service. I just remember all the good things and the black humour. She had a very acerbic sense of humour.

“Sometimes you would have to tell her ’I am not listening to this’ but she would eventually overwhelm you with her charm. She was a great woman and I am honoured to have spoken today.”

And Frank Thornton, who played Captain Peacock in Are You Being Served?, said: “It was a lovely service - I think this just goes to show what a good actress she was. It was a truly brilliant way to say goodbye to her.”

In The Mood by Glenn Miller and the 1960s hit Spirit In The Sky were among the songs played to the congregation.

An EastEnders spokeswoman said on-set filming was “severely” reduced today as more than 100 current cast members attended the service.

She said: “It goes without saying that we’ve reworked filming schedules so that any cast or crew wanting to pay their respects to Wendy Richard can of course attend her funeral.

“A large number of those who worked with Wendy will be attending so a minimal amount of filming will continue at Elstree.”

Wendy had fought to overcome cancer twice previously, first in the mid-1990s and then in 2002.

After lengthy treatment her cancer went into remission but last year an aggressive form of the disease returned.

It spread to her kidneys and bones and in October she revealed the cancer was terminal.

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Source - The Sun

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