Rita has a heavyweight personality
Rita Webb a mainstay of "Doddy's Music Box", has
one of the most delightful personalities of any woman I have met. It is rich
and honest. And her conversation is laced with some very fruity language.
She is no beauty, she is the first person to tell you that. She weighs fifteen
stone, stands just four-feet ten inches high and will not admit her age-"but
I tell you this darling, I'm over thirty-five".
Her remarks against herself are interspersed with a laugh that can only be
compared to water gurgling through a drain at full throttle. The laugh begins
somewhere in her stomach and ends as a raucous bellow through her lips. At
one stage in her career she was known as "the rat bag". There are
few things of which Rita disapproves. That nickname is one of them. "I
don't mind people calling me a fat old bleeder, but rat bag is a bit much,"
said Rita, "I am trying to live down that image."
She ran away from home-in Kilburn, London-when she was thirteen,
and got a job as a music hall chorus girl. Rita has been happily married for
twenty-nine years to Al Jeffrey "And you put in your article that he
is the finest guitarist and banjo player in the country see?" Al gave
up his professional entertainment career so that Rita could concentrate on
hers. After more than twenty years, Rita is still grateful at such a magnanimous
gesture. Her husband now teaches the banjo, Mandolin and guitar.
Al and Rita have no children. "I couldn't have them and it was a terrible
disappointment because we both love them so much. But I've got seven nephews
and nieces so it's almost as good as having our own family."
She is resigned to her size and shape. "When I was younger
I used to pray every night, I'd say: 'Lord, if you make me beautiful I will
become a nun and sing your praises for ever'. "Well he didn't make me
beautiful, so I didn't become a nun. If I had I wouldn't half have given the
monks a right old runaround." She laughed again.
Rita loves her public, as they love her. "You see, men and women like
me," she said. "Television is such an intimate thing. I come into
their homes, I make the plainest woman seem beautiful, so she likes me. "Men
see me on the screen and think gawd, my old woman isn't at all bad looking
compared with that!' Rita was once stopped in the street by a man who flung
his arms around her and said "You remind me of my mother-in-law, she's
a fat old cow, too."
Rita went to a Harley Street slimming specialist "He took one look at
me and I thought he was going to faint. Anyway he tried, but finally said
I was a hopeless case." When she married Rita weighed just over nine
stones. Now she is putting on a stone a year. "Last year I weighed fourteen
stone. Now I'm fifteen and next year I shall be sixteen. "In ten years'
time I won't be able to get through a door."