Film and TV actress Wendy Craig is known worldwide for her many and varied acting roles, but especifically for her comedies. Wendy loves to make other people happy.
Children often have many ambitions, but Wendy only ever wanted to be an actress. She was born in County Durham, UK and went to Durham High School, which had close associations with the Cathedral. In her early years, Wendy went to church and had a good, strong moral foundation. Her Christian grandmother taught her Bible stories when she was a little girl, and Wendy put her faith in Jesus Christ when she was still very young. But as she grew up, acting took over her life, and she admits she spent some years very much ‘adrift’.
After leaving school she trained as an actress at the Central School of Dramatic Arts.
In the 1950’s and 60’s Wendy appeared in a number of British movies. Some of her better-known early films are ‘The Servant’ (1963) and ‘The Nanny’ (1965) with much loved Hollywood screen goddess Bette Davis. But it was with British TV sitcoms that she came into the public eye with her perfect timing and very natural gift for comedy.
In 1967 Wendy was asked to play the lead role in ‘Not in Front of the Children.’ It became a classic weekly sitcom and has been exported across the globe. The follow-up series ‘And Mother Makes Three’ first appeared in 1971. There she plays a single mother, a role which an increasing number of parents have been able to relate to as the divorce rate in the Western World rocketed from the 1970’s. The sitcom was filled with everyday events and the clever script writers, together with well chosen actors and actresses like Wendy, were able to craft ordinary events into comedy situations which related so well to the mainly family audience. This series evolved into ‘And Mother Makes Five’ and then the hugely successful ‘Butterflies’. From there she took the role of the nanny in the popular TV series ‘Nanny’.
In the early 1980’s, Wendy landed the starring role in the much loved TV series ‘Nanny’. From 2003 to 2011 she played a hospital matron in British TV series ‘The Royal’. In 2009 and 2010 she played Perrin’s mother in ‘Reggie Perrin’. She also loves the stage and has played a number of stage roles in recent years, especially in pantomime.
But everything Wendy does is undergirded by her foundational faith and worldview. Wendy explains how she came to have a strong faith in Christ as a child.
“My grandmother used to sit me on her knee and tell me stories from the bible about Jesus. She taught me children’s songs about God’s love and she was really the one who led me to commit my life to Jesus.”
At first, Wendy maintained her faith as she grew up and became an actress. But she admits that the same happened to her as happens to so many people. Her career took off, there seemed to be less time for church, and she eventually came to a place where she didn’t seem to need God in her life anymore.
But life events caused Wendy to turn back to God when she reached her mid forties.
“I had done a lot of things I wasn’t very happy with. I had a great sense of shame. I had a lovely dog that died, and when he died I was heartbroken. I was sitting in the orchard one day looking at his grave and I wondered what the matter was. I had owned other dogs that had died, why was I so upset? Suddenly I thought that I needed to get back to that place of innocence where I had God in my life. I knew I needed to change. “
Wendy went straight down to her local church and confessed to God. She said she was sorry and prayed for forgiveness.
“I had the most wonderful feeling. I knew that I was forgiven.”
From that point on, Wendy has been a keen Christian attending church regularly. She is involved in ‘Christians in Entertainment’ which actively seeks to support Christians in the entertainment industry. Wendy has a local church, but also says that she finds it interesting attending whichever church happens to be close when she is touring. Her home church is United Reformed, but she has really enjoyed visiting churches of every denomination.
“Wherever I am I go to a church. I’ve been to Methodist churches, a Catholic Church, Christian Fellowship churches – its so interesting!”
Wendy has found that she feels much closer to the whole Christian community since visiting across the denominations. She admits that she still gets nervous when going on stage, but she finds great comfort in reading the bible before going out in front of an audience.
She has two particular favourite verses from the Bible:
Joshua 1:5. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be discouraged, do not be terrified, for the Lord Your God is with you wherever you go.”
Is 26:3 “You will keep in perfect peace him who trusts you because his mind is steadfast.”
Story by Ralph Burden
Photo: still image from the sitcom ‘And Mother Makes Three.’ Fair usage for illustrative purposes only.