RITA FACES THE
CLOSE-UP OF THE WEEK by KEN IRWIN
face is big and fat, nose huge, mouth banana-shaped.
But the eyes-are kind and thoughtful, though she has, in her own words, "the
face of an old hag." Rita Webb one of TV's busiest character actresses
for more than twenty years, is grateful for her looks. "I'm regarded as
just an old hag." She smiled. "But at least people can't forget me
"I'm not out of work like the hundreds of actresses who must depend on
good looks and curves." Rita, only 4ft 10in, built like a barrel and now
pushing sixty, is happy to be regarded as TV's no.1 old hag.
She appears regularly with Benny Hill in his ITV shows, has worked with most
of the top comedians and has lost count of her comedy roles in films and TV.
"When they want an ugly old cow, they always send for me," she laughs.
"I'm not booked for my good looks, dear. If I was I'd bleedin' well starve,
Wouldn't I?" Rita is a character, one of the few left in show business,
she swears like a trooper.
"Take my teeth, I had to have one out the other day. Trouble is Y'see,
I never took good care of 'em. I used to crack walnuts with 'em."
She is full of good humour, honest-to-goodness platitudes pour out of her. Her
husband Jeffrey is a part-time music teacher. They've lived in the same house
since they were married thirty-three years ago.
He calls he "Podge" she calls him "My Jeffy." But even after
thirty-three years they're madly in love.
"The other week he came up to me in the kitchen for a cuddle. "He
said. 'Oh Podge, let's cuddle while we can. I burst into tears. Turned off the
stove and cuddled him. "There you are, 'cuddle while you can. That's my
message to Britain," she said, seriously. "Not enough people cuddle
in life, y'know. Too busy rushin' around, they are. Marriages would last longer
if people cuddled more. "you're in the grave a long time, darlin'. It's
too late to cuddle then." Rita started in show business after running away
from home at fourteen, she got a job as a chorus girl in a theatre. "I
told them I was eighteen and they believed me because I had quiet a big bust.
"Now it's bigger than ever. At least forty-six or maybe even fifty-six!"
she chortled. Rita takes all insults about her size in her stride. A producer
once sent her a script which said "Enter-an old hag, suggest Rita Webb
for the part."
Another time she got off a bus and a young man bellowed "I've seen you
on telly. You always remind me of my mother-in-law, she's an ugly old cow-just
like you!" "I think he meant it as a compliment," said Rita,
the most soft hearted toughie in the business.
DAILY MIRROR Saturday 10th February