Pauline Fowler

Pauline Fowler

] Pauline was created by scriptwriter Tony Holland and producer Julia Smith as one of "EastEnders' "original characters. She made her debut in the soap's first episode on 19 February 1985, and remained for twenty-one years and ten months, making her the second longest-running original character, surpassed only by Ian Beale.

Pauline's storylines focus on drudgery, money worries and family troubles. The matriarchal stalwart of the fictional London community of Albert Square, she is portrayed as a stoic, opinionated, battle-axe — a family-orientated woman who alienates her kin due to overbearing interference. Pauline's marriage to the downtrodden Arthur was central to the character for the first eleven years of the programme, culminating with his screen death in 1996. She was used for comedic purposes in scenes with her launderette colleague, Dot Branning, and scriptwriters included many feuds in her narrative, most notably with her daughter-in-law, Sonia, and Den Watts, a family-friend who got her daughter Michelle pregnant at just 16. A famous episode in 1986, which included Pauline discovering that Den was the father of Michelle's baby, drew over 30 million viewers, and was listed at #36 in "The Times"' 1998 list of "Top 100 cult moments in Film". [] However, the character remains staunchly faithful to her late husband's memory, refusing to let the relationships progress beyond companionship. In 2001 Derek Harkinson (Ian Lavender) is introduced, an old school friend of Pauline's. Initial scripts indicated that Derek was being groomed as a romantic interest for Pauline, which she is shown to welcome. However, the storyline takes a twist when he reveals, to her shock, that he is gay.cite web|url=|title=Episode guide — 18 December 2001||accessdate=2007-05-31] 2002 sees Derek move in with the Fowler family, unconventionally settling into the show as a replacement father figure for Mark and Martin and as Pauline’s best friend.

In 2005 Pauline embarks on a romance with a new character, Joe Macer (Ray Brooks), whom she meets at salsa classes. A relationship develops, and despite her initial trepidation, Pauline remarries in 2006, after almost a decade alone. Pauline's marriage to Joe was an attempt to give the character a "new lease of life", and her wedding day was screened to coincide with "EastEnders"' 21st anniversary.cite news|url=,,1710666,00.html|title=In the early days all I ever got were crying scenes|publisher="The Guardian"|date=16 February 2006|accessdate=2007-06-03] Richard was openly opposed to her character remarrying, but she was eventually convinced by the executive producer and battled, successfully, for Pauline to keep the "Fowler" surname. However, in July 2006, Wendy Richard announced that she was leaving "EastEnders"; she quit due to "creative differences" with the show's producers regarding Pauline's remarriage, which she felt was "disloyal" to her character's beloved first husband, Arthur. [cite news|url=|title=After 21 years, Pauline leaves the misery of Albert Square|publisher="Daily Mail"|date=11 July 2006|accessdate=2007-11-06] According to an interview in "The Sun", Richard commented, "I think it's the most terrible shame, I really do. I thought in my heart of hearts it was wrong ... I just couldn't believe that Pauline would remarry — anybody ... I would have stayed a bit longer if Pauline hadn't got married." [cite news|url=,,2-2006360264,00.html|author=Nathan, Sara|title=Wendy: Why I quit Enders|publisher="The Sun"|accessdate=2006-09-20] Richard felt that she did not have the same chemistry with Ray Brooks, who played Joe, as she did with Bill Treacher, who played Arthur. She refuted producers' opinions that Pauline and Joe "looked good together" and felt that she and Brooks had to work very hard to turn them into a "realistic-looking couple."cite news|url=,-says-Wendy|title= I quit EastEnders because I felt betrayed, says Wendy|publisher="Sunday Express"|date=7 August 2006|accessdate=2007-09-09]

Within the storyline, just two months after the wedding, Pauline's marriage is shown to sour after she discovers Joe's criminal past. Their relationship steadily deteriorates throughout the year, and in December 2006 Pauline ends the marriage — removing her wedding ring and informing Joe that he "was half the man that Arthur had been, that she had never really loved him and that their sex life was a sham." The resulting row sees Joe insult Pauline's family — suggesting that her "perfect marriage" with Arthur was "nothing but a fantasy" and brandishing Mark "diseased", Michelle a "scrubber" and Arthur a "con" — to which Pauline responds by smashing a plate over his head. [cite news|url=|title="EastEnders" episodes: "Stacey gets dumped"|publisher="BBC"|date=2006-12-21|accessdate=2007-12-02] Wendy Richard has commented, "It was not just the memory of Arthur that stopped the marriage to Joe being a success. He was proven to be a weak and untruthful man. That is what caused the marriage to be a non starter. Pauline was not mean to Joe, he used her ... and lied to her."

Deception, reclusiveness and death

Viewers saw the slow build-up to Pauline's climactic exit throughout the latter part of 2006. The character's bitter decline involves depression, pretending to have a brain tumour to scupper the revived relationship between her son Martin and his ex-wife Sonia, marital breakdown, and finally ostracism after Martin and the rest of Albert Square discover her lie. Having successfully alienated everyone around her, Pauline plans to go to America to join her daughter. Wendy Richard has commented on the reasons behind Pauline's actions: “she cannot forgive. For anyone to hurt a member of her family so badly is incomprehensible to Pauline. She is a good, but unforgiving woman. Sonia is more than just a thorn in Pauline's side. She is angry because she feels Martin has let her down in returning to Sonia. She feels he could have discussed it with her more and talked her round for the sake of Rebecca. Pauline will blame her decision to leave on Sonia — another way of punishing Martin. Even though she is really hurting over leaving Rebecca, Pauline is determined to go. She realised she never really loved Joe, he has lied to her too many times ... Although I know Pauline better than anyone, even I cannot fathom out why she made up the brain tumour story."cite news|url=|author=Green, Kris|title=Wendy Richard|publisher="Digital Spy"|date=23 December 2006|accessdate=2007-06-12]

The character is killed off in a "shocking" and dramatic storyline, [cite news|url=|title=British Soap Awards|publisher=""|accessdate=2007-07-18] which aired on Christmas Day 2006 and was watched by an estimated 10.7 million viewers. [cite news|title=Geraldine's prayers answers|date=28 December 2006|publisher="Herald Sun" (Melbourne, Australia)|author=Galer, Kit] It was the second most highly watched programme of the day. [cite news|url=|author=Revoir, Paul|title=BBC1 posts its worst Christmas Day ratings ever|publisher="Daily Mail"|date=26 December 2006|accessdate=2007-05-31] The episode sees Sonia denouncing Pauline as "sick" for not wanting to share her son with the woman he loved, to which Pauline retorts, “I’ll tell you what’s sick. You. Daughter of a scrubber, lesbian, under-age mother who gave away her own baby.” The row culminates with Sonia slapping Pauline, causing her to fall to the floor and break the Fowler fruit bowl — "the enduring symbol of her family, which smashed, significantly, into smithereens.” Though Pauline resolves to stay and reunite with her family in the end, she does not get the chance, as she collapses and dies in the middle of Albert Square, leaving both characters and viewers in uncertainty about the cause of her demise.

The Christmas Day episodes, written by Simon Ashdown, drew on the show’s early history to mark the occasion of Pauline's exit, which was particularly emphasised by the use of flashback vocal snippets of several members of Pauline's deceased family. The critic for "The Times", Tim Teeman, commented that "Wendy Richard as Pauline had the air of the departing diva, queen of all she had loved, lost and laid waste to, her face set in a silent snarl." In addition, her parting scene with the other "EastEnders" long-serving "grand dame" Dot Branning (played by June Brown) has also been praised, with Teeman commenting: "The really choking scene came in the launderette between Pauline and Dot ... Here the two grand dames had worked, bitched and consoled for years. Richard and the wonderful June Brown played their final encounter as intensely as the characters deserved."

Richard herself has been less complimentary about her alter ego's departure. She has spoken of her disappointment regarding Pauline's "changing character" and "depressing final storyline". In an interview with the Biography Channel she explained: "I did say, promise me you won’t make Pauline nasty before she goes, and unfortunately they did ... I wasn’t too happy with the way it was done. They were changing Pauline’s character ... Pauline would never have remarried. She would have remained a widow, sitting in that chair in the corner. That’s what [show creator] Julia Smith wanted, and that’s what I felt was right, so I resigned ... I think it’s a shame because the Fowlers have gone completely now ... There was so much history with that family."cite episode |title=Gloria's Greats: Wendy Richard |series= Gloria's Greats|network=The Biography Channel |station=British Sky Broadcasting|airdate=2006-01-20] The storyline — dubbed "who killed Pauline?" by the British press [cite news|url=,,2001320029-2007040123,00.html|author=Nathan, Sara|title=Enders' Joe meets his Macer|publisher="The Sun"|date=25 January 2007|accessdate=2007-06-11] — continued into 2007, as first Pauline's funeral is interrupted by the police in order to perform an autopsy on her body, and then Pauline's nemesis Sonia is arrested for the murder.cite web|url=|title=Episode guide — Tue 2 January 2007 — Pauline's funeral||accessdate=2007-05-31] It is later revealed that the killing blow had actually come from Pauline's husband Joe, who breaks down and confesses to Dot that he had rowed with Pauline on Christmas day (off-screen) and, in a fury, struck her across the head with a frying pan, causing a brain haemorrhage that claimed her life.cite news|url=|title=Sonia issued warrant for Pauline's murder|publisher="Life Style Extra"|date=2007-01-03|accessdate=2007-01-03] The plot's eventual climax in February 2007 led to the exits of several established characters connected with Pauline. This included Martin, Sonia, and Joe, who is dramatically killed off after confessing to Pauline's murder, by falling out of the Fowlers' first floor window while trying to apprehend a hysterical Dot. Pauline is cremated, and her ashes buried at Arthur's graveside, by Dot, in an episode that aired in June 2007.cite web|url=|title=Tue 12 Jun 2007||accessdate=2007-12-02] As a final tribute to Pauline and Wendy Richard, the BBC aired a special television programme, "EastEnders Revealed: Goodbye Pauline", which provided an emotional look back at Pauline's pivotal storylines during her time in Walford. It also reunited Wendy Richard with prior cast-mates Todd Carty and James Alexandrou (Mark and Martin respectively), and featured character commentary and tributes from television critics and "EastEnders" actors such as Anna Wing and Pam St. Clement (Lou and Pat).cite news|url=|title=EastEnders Revealed: Goodbye Pauline, BBC One|publisher="This Is Lancashire"|date=2 January 2007|accessdate=2007-01-03] During the programme — which aired on New Year's Day, 2007 — Wendy Richard reflected upon how "proud" she was of her character, commenting: "Pauline had everything in life thrown at her and I think she coped with it very well. It showed how people deal with their problems ... She wasn't always grumpy ... she did have lots of laughs, but sadly people don't seem to remember that, which is a shame ... they still harp on about her wearing her cardigans and Pauline stopped wearing cardigans three years after EastEnders started. She is a good woman, she's a kind woman, a loving woman and all she ever thought about was her family. That was the most important thing in her life."cite episode |title=EastEnders Revealed: Goodbye Pauline |series=EastEnders Revealed |serieslink=EastEnders Revealed |credits= Including Wendy Richard, Todd Carty, Paul O'Grady |network=BBC |station=BBC One|airdate=2001-01-01]


Pauline is the second-longest running character to feature in "EastEnders" and one of only two original characters to remain in the show for almost 22 years. Her baggy woolly cardigan and long-suffering nature have led to her being labelled as a soap institution,cite news|url=|title=EastEnder Pauline's Palace date||date=28 November 2000|accessdate=2006-09-20] a "soap legend" and a "television icon". Actress Wendy Richard was awarded an Order of the British Empire MBE medal in 2000 by Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace, and when the Queen visited the set of "EastEnders" in 2001, Wendy Richard was the first actress introduced, and then accompanied Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip on their tour of the set. [cite news|title=Queen steps into EastEnders set|date=29 November 2001|publisher="Daily Telegraph" (Sydney)]

Despite being popular with many, the character of Pauline has also garnered much criticism over the years. Persistent criticism has been given to the character's dowdy attire, particularly the perception that she rarely wears anything but a baggy cardigan; a claim that Wendy Richard herself categorically disputes. In addition, Pauline has also received much criticism for her miserable demeanour — "a face like a month of wet weekends" and "a voice that could curdle milk."Cite web|url=|title=EastEnders|publisher="UKTV Gold"|accessdate=2007-01-03] She has been described as the "Wicked Witch of Walford"cite news|url=|title=Eastenders — Tim Teeman watching BBC One|publisher="The Times"|date=26 December 2006|accessdate=2007-01-03] and "a character who became a byword for downtrodden haggery."Cite web|author = Lucy Mangan |url=|title=Bye Then, Pauline|publisher="The Guardian"|date=11 July 2006|accessdate=2007-01-03]

Lucy Mangan, the culture critic from "The Guardian" newspaper, summed up the character: "Pauline Fowler is surely one of the oddest soap creations ever. She is a character without humour, charisma or indeed any redeeming features who became progressively, unrelentingly miserable ... She was presumably intended to be the anchoring force for "EastEnders", but because of the writers' unprecedented decision to break with traditional narrative rules and give her not a single redeeming feature, she became more of a sucking chest wound than the heart of the show." This opinion is perhaps shared by a proportion of viewers, as Pauline was voted the 35th most annoying person of 2006 in a BBC Three poll, being the only fictional character to appear on the list.cite episode | title = [ The Most Annoying People of 2006] | network = BBC | station = BBC Three | city = London, England | airdate = 2006-12-27] In a Radio Times poll of over 5,000 people in 2004, 13% chose Pauline Fowler as the soap character they would most like to see retired. She came third in the poll, behind "EastEnders"' Den Watts (17%) and "Coronation Street's" Ken Barlow (15%).Cite web|url=|title=Hilda Ogden voted the best|publisher="Manchester Evening News"|date=13 July 2004|accessdate=2007-09-10]

Although it had been suggested that Pauline's presence in "EastEnders" was largely peripheral for some time, the news of her departure in 2006 was met with dismay by fans and soap journalists alike.cite news|url=|title=Wendy Richard's dramatic soap life||date=10 July 2006|accessdate=2006-09-20] In a report for BBC News, one viewer commented "it's so sad, because I've watched her for 20 years. She's such a large character", and another said "If she goes then I think "EastEnders" is finished." BBC controller of continuing drama, John Yorke, commented "Richard occupies a huge place in people's hearts", and executive producer Kate Harwood said, "For many years Wendy simply was "EastEnders" for the audience and Pauline's indomitable nature typified the grit and fight that embodies the "EastEnders"' spirit ... We thank her for everything she has done for the show." [cite news|url=|title=Wendy Richard MBE to leave EastEnders||date=11 July 2006|accessdate=2007-05-30]

"Inside Soap" editor, Steven Murphy, said that the fact Pauline has been such an "enduring staple" will make it hard for fans to cope with her departure. "It's huge in soap terms ... She's a character people love to hate — you just assumed she would be there forever." When addressing the repercussions that Pauline's exit would have on the soap, Murphy had this to say: "characters like Pauline are like glue, because they're connected to so many other characters and they can help hold stories together. In terms of that [EastEnders] has very few of those now." Jonathan Hughes, editor of "All About Soap" magazine, added " [Pauline's] an absolute legend ... You can't imagine the show without her ... People will miss her because she's been such an important part of "EastEnders" for so many years." However, not all viewers were sorry to hear of the character's retirement, with one commenting "How can you have someone like Pauline Fowler on the television for 21 years? It's the best thing that's ever happened to television [getting rid of her] . Kill her off? I would have blown her up years ago".Pauline's exit in December 2006 was described by "The Times" critic, Tim Teeman, as a landmark episode and a "significant sayonara". He described scenes between Pauline and Dot as "the most moving in a soap this year" and added that "it was a delight to finally alight on an episode ... that was so satisfying." Conversely, Pauline's exit was described as a "mess" by Kevin O'Sullivan, critic of the "Sunday Mirror" newspaper. He branded the character's final scene unconvincing and badly acted, commenting: "the appropriately feeble scene brought down the curtain on 20 terrible years of Wendy Richard's low-quality performances. We shall not see her like again. If we're lucky! ... I'm certain millions didn't tune in to say farewell to sour- faced Pauline. No, they were just checking to make sure she was really dead."cite news|url=|title=Xmas exit was a Pauline mess|publisher="Sunday Mirror"|date=31 December 2006|accessdate=2007-05-29]

To mark Pauline's 22 year reign in "EastEnders", Wendy Richard was awarded with a 'Lifetime Achievement' award at the British Soap Awards in May 2007. [cite news|url=|author=Swan, Melanie|title=British Soap Awards 2007 Special|publisher="The People"|date=27 May 2007|accessdate=2007-09-20] The award was presented by Todd Carty, who played her on-screen son Mark. Carty described Richard as the "heart and soul of "EastEnders" and hailed her as an inspiration to everyone in the "EastEnders" cast.cite news|url=|title=Corrie sweeps the board at soap awards|publisher="Daily Mail"|date=28 May 2007|accessdate=2007-05-27] Richard was moved to tears when she collected the award."cite news|url= |title=Wendy moved by 'long service' award|publisher="Metro"|date=27 May 2007|accessdate=2007-05-27]

In popular culture and other media

When the series was launching in 1985, since Wendy Richard was the most recognisable actor from the original cast, she and her character Pauline were used heavily to promote "EastEnders" in the media. [Wiggins, Lizzie, p. 120] Wendy Richard, in character as Pauline, was chosen to narrate a special "dial-a-soap" service for "EastEnders". Run by British Telecom, the facility allowed people who had missed an episode to ring a number and get an instant update, up to 88 seconds long. It was the first television show to provide such a service. [Smith, Julia; Holland, Tony p. 173] Between 1985 and 2006, Pauline was featured in numerous "EastEnders" related merchandise and promotional material, including calendars, cast-cards, annuals, novels, a knitting pattern book and a greeting card."EastEnders Special"]

The well-known character of Pauline Fowler has also been referenced in various television programmes, unrelated to the "EastEnders" universe. In 1997 she was mentioned in an episode of the successful BBC drama "This Life". Two key characters, Anna and Ferdy, watch an episode of "EastEnders" on television and mock Pauline's hysterics and her well-documented tendency to wear cardigans.cite episode |title=This Life |series= This Life|serieslink=This Life |credits= Including Daniela Nardini, Andrew Lincoln, Ramon Tikaram |network=BBC |station=BBC2|began=1997-03-17 |ended=1997-08-07|season= 2] The character was also regularly spoofed in the BBC comedy sketch show, "The Real McCoy" (1991–1995). One of the show's recurring sketches featured a spoof version of "EastEnders", with black comedians taking over roles of well known "EastEnders" characters, who frequent a pub called Rub-a-Dub. The comedian Llewella Gideon played the role of Pauline. The sketches placed considerable emphasis on the character's high-pitched voice and her tendency to whine.cite episode |title=The Real McCoy |series= The Real McCoy|serieslink=The Real McCoy (TV series) |credits= Including Llewella Gideon, Meera Syal, Felix Dexter |network=BBC |station=BBC2|airdate=1996-02-02|season= 6|number=5] The character's fashion sense has also been referred to in BBC Two sitcom "Beautiful People" (2008). [cite episode |title=How I Got My Vase|series= Beautiful People|serieslink=Beautiful People (UK TV series)|credits= Including Luke Ward-Wilkinson, Olivia Colman, Meera Syal, Layton Williams |network=BBC |station=BBC Two|airdate=2008-10-02|season= 1|number=1]

ee also

*Fowlers in Ireland



* Brake, Colin (1995). "EastEnders: The First 10 Years: A Celebration". BBC Books ISBN 0-563-37057-2.
* Lynch, Tony (1986). "EastEnders Special". BBC books. ISBN 0-86227-384-6.
* Miller, Hugh (1986). "EastEnders, Book Two: Swings and Roundabouts". Inner Circle Books. ISBN 1-85018-050-4
* Smith, Julia; Holland, Tony (1987). "EastEnders: The Inside Story". BBC Books, ISBN 0-563-20601-2.
* Smith, Rupert (2005). "EastEnders: 20 years in Albert Square". BBC Books. ISBN 0-563-52269-0.
* Wiggins, Lizzie (2000). "Wendy Richard ... No "S": My Life Story. " Simon & Schuster Ltd. ISBN 978-0743202800.

External links


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