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Tuesday, 28 November, 2000, 14:49 GMT
EastEnder Pauline's Palace date
Wendy Richard, Antony Sher and Sian Phillips
Wendy Richard, Antony Sher and Sian Phillips after the ceremony
Actors Wendy Richard, Antony Sher and Sian Phillips have been awarded honours by the Queen at Buckingham Palace.

The Queen recognised Wendy Richard, who plays Pauline Fowler in BBC One's flagship soap EastEnders, saying, "You're in a television soap."

Richard, 54, received an MBE and admitted it was an emotional moment.

"This means a lot to me because I'm a royalist and one for tradition - I would hate to see our traditions disappear," she said.

But she added: "I can't very well wear an MBE medal on Pauline's overall."

Pauline and husband Arthur in the early days of the soap
Also receiving awards were Shakespearean actor Anthony Sher, who was given a knighthood.

Sir Anthony, who was born in South Africa but has lived in Britain since he was 19, said he had never dreamed that he would ever be at Buckingham Palace "receiving such a wonderful honour".

Actress Sian Phillips, who received a CBE for services to drama, said she was still working as hard as she had ever done.

"I still have a very heavy schedule. I haven't been off the stage for the last seven years - and, at weekends, I appear in cabaret."

Wendy Richard has played Pauline Fowler since the soap began in 1985.

In that time, her character has buried her husband, mother and twin brother, seen her daughter emigrate and coped with her son being diagnosed as HIV-positive.

Her baggy woolly cardigan and long-suffering nature have made her a soap institution.

But it was as a short-skirt-wearing and glamorous sales assistant Miss Brahms that she made her name in acting.

Are You Being Served?
Richards and Are You Being Served? co-star Mollie Sugden

As Shirley Brahms in hit BBC sitcom Are You Being Served? she was the assistant and comic foil to the matronly Mrs Slocombe, played by Mollie Sugden.

The BBC show - set in the fictional Grace Bros department store - ran from 1973 to 1985 and its repeats still draw large audiences.

A later spin-off series called Grace And Favour - in which some of the characters ran a country hotel - was less successful.

Richard has also worked tirelessly for cancer charities and has recently published an autobiography.

She said she was planning a party in London's West End for her neighbours - and her postman.

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See also:

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