Page last updated at 15:51 GMT, Monday, 9 March 2009

Actors attend Richard's funeral


Eastenders past and present arrive for funeral

Friends, family and EastEnders cast members have gathered in London to attend the funeral of the late actress Wendy Richard, who died aged 65.

Actors Todd Carty, Ian Lavender and Trevor Bannister led tributes at the service for the star, who was best known for playing Pauline Fowler.

Fans of the actress lined the streets outside St Marylebone Parish Church.

An EastEnders spokeswoman said filming was "severely" reduced as more than 100 cast members were at the service.

"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 attend her funeral," she said.

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
Ian Lavender

Lavender, who played Derek Harkinson in EastEnders, spoke at the funeral. He 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."

Frank Thornton, who played Captain Peacock in Are You Being Served?, added: "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."

On arrival, mourners were given an order of service, which included Richard's favourite chilli con carne recipe.

Wendy Richard's casket
Ex-EastEnders star Toddy Carty (front right) helped carry the casket

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

Carty, who also helped carry Richard's casket into the church, was close to tears as he arrived.

Barbara Windsor walked in flanked by co-stars Steve McFadden (Phil Mitchell) and Patsy Palmer (Bianca Jackson).

Lavender and Bannister, who starred opposite her in Are You Being Served? also paid tribute to her.

Other EastEnders stars who attended included Lacey Turner, John Altman and Adam Woodyatt.

Letitia Dean, who played Sharon Watts in the drama, told reporters beforehand: "Wendy is going to love this."

Many left flowers outside, one bunch included a card from Queen guitarist Brian May, which read: "Rest in peace, dear Wendy."

Richard died last month at the Harley Street Clinic in London after a lengthy battle with cancer, with her husband, John Burns, by her side.

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