Monday, 10 September 2012

Whatever Happened to 'Watching' Star Emma Wray?

'Watching' was a British television sitcom that aired between 1987 and 1993. Produced by Granada TV, it told the bittersweet story of a mismatched couple, Brenda Wilson and Malcolm Stoneway. 
Liza Tarbuck (left) and Emma Wray (right)

Both lived in the Merseyside (Liverpool) area, Malcolm in the 'posh' Wirral town of Meols and Brenda over the River Mersey in the confines of the city itself.

The title 'Watching' stemmed from Brenda's fascination of people watching, usually with her sister Pamela in the Grapes public house and Malcolm's love of bird watching, which later became a passion for Brenda as well.

Many fans will remember loud mouthed Brenda's undoubted talent for nearly always having an answer to anything and would have had their emotions well and truly churned by their on/off romance.

The Granada TV series was devised by writer Jim Hitchmough, being originally conceived as a comedy sketch written at the Everyman Theatre in Liverpool. It was submitted for use by the BBC's satirical series 'Not the Nine O'clock News' but was subsequently rejected.
  • The regular cast members  included Paul Bown (remembered for being the Student in the first Mr Bean TV show), Liza Tarbuck (daughter of comedian Jimmy and remembered for Linda Green), Patsy Byrne (best remembered for being Nursey in Blackadder II), John Bowler (PC Valentine in the Bill) and of course, the undoubted star of the show - Emma Wray.



Emma as Brenda
Emma (born Gillian Wray in Birkenhead, 1966 - more often known as Jill or Gill), actually won the part within 2 months of graduating with a BA in Theatre Arts, from the Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama in Sidcup, Kent.

She is remembered in the series for not only playing the part of the caustic Brenda, but also singing the theme tune 'What Does He See In Me?'

In the years since the programme came to an end, all the stars have been seen on TV in various shows, although Liza works very much in radio these days and Patsy is now quite elderly and has retired. That is all except Emma (Jill).

After the programme came to an end in 1993, Emma was to appear in 'Stay Lucky', starring alongside Dennis Waterman (The Sweeney, Minder, New Tricks) and Jan Francis (Secret War, Just Good Friends), and later in the comedy/drama 'My Wonderful Life', with Tony Robinson (Blackadder, Time Team).

So what became of the 'Scouse' pocket rocket bundle of fire that made Malcolm's life so difficult, though so tantalisingly enriched?

It is believed that sometime in 2001, she decided to take an initial 2 year break from acting and use some of the money she had earned travelling throughout the far East, Africa and South America. 

In that time she started working with children (in a Thai orphanage) and soon realised that she found this work far more fulfilling than acting.

Since that time she has spent much time as a nanny, working with children of many ages, in many different parts of the world.

So will she ever return to acting and be seen back on our TV screens? 

It is no secret that many TV companies would be very pleased to hear from her again. Indeed, earlier this year she did a photoshoot (a link to which can be found by clicking HERE). 

The question does have to be asked, why has this photo gallery been produced after a period of anonymity of approx 12 years? Is a return to acting possibly in the offing?

Emma (Jill) had a compulsive energy on our TV screens, along with a great sense of comedy timing. 

Her presence is still greatly missed by many TV watchers.

Have you ever met Jill (Emma)?
Did you use to enjoy watching her in her many TV roles?

Please feel free to comment.....  




CLICK TO FIND OUT WHATEVER HAPPENED TO:

Man About the House star, Richard O'Sullivan 
 Whatever Happened to the "Are You Being Served" Cast 

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40 comments:

  1. met jill today in a shop that i work in what a lovely lady hope shes back on our screens soon a gtreat talent and person

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  2. loved the tv show watching when it was on infact iv just bought the 56 episodes box set would be a great show to do again with her and paul bown showing them in later years think it would be funny get back on tv emma your a miss from liz burton x

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  3. Yayyyy! Bring back Watching!!! I have the full boxset and love it, happy days back then when comedy TV was great, would be great to see how Brenda & Malcolm have been enjoying married life! And get Billy out of Eastenders and back as Terry!!!

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  4. Emma. Liverpool girls are the best girls, thv ar doe! Come Back Now! Mike, Old Swan, Liverpool 13

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  5. Me and gill got married in Thailand decided keep it quite but I'm allowed to spill the beans.

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  6. hmmm some strange remarks on here it must be said...

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  7. Just discovered and re-watched the whole lot; staggeringly brilliant series.

    I wish Emma well wherever she is. I'm now going to get 'stay lucky'!

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  8. Love Emma and the series watching going through it for the sixth time. I went to see Robin hood and babes in the wood just to see her. Bring back a upto day Watching please.

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  9. Have bought the complete box-set and its even more brillient this time round.Come back emma please.

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  10. God I had such a crush on Emma (jill gill) Wray at the time of Watching I even found (and evently married) a girl who was like Brenda :)

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  11. STILL WATCHING BOX SET LOVE TO HOW MARRIED LIFE TURNED OUT FOR THEM

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  12. Watching the box set of Watching again. Can't get enough of it. It's a laugh a minute. Great to read what has become of Jill. Greatly missed but as long as she's happy doing other ventures in life we wish her all the best. Cheers.

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  13. hello my name is steve ryan i did some work with jill on watching but got to know her a lot better on stay lucky she was a warm funny and such a talented actress tv has missed out on such a great talent please come back jill youve been off our screens for to long.

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  14. I worked with Jill (Emma) a couple of times on Watching and got to know her better in the Stay Lucky Series whilst working as Denis Waterman's stand-in. Jill was a warm, friendly and such a talented actress. This lady has been off our screens for far too long and we have missed out on her talent. Steve Ryan

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  15. Lovely person who should get back into TV I hung round with her two three yrs ago she's always been very talented at it obviously a

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  16. I fancied her like mad when watching was on and still did when she did that thing with baldrick.
    Good on you Emma for getting away from celebrity.

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  17. Emma was a beautiful, lovely girl,she probably still is, and always will be. Loved every second of Watching. Have never met her, but would love to. She can come round to our house anytime!

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  18. Watching/Emma Wray fans please feel free to join my Facebook group, "The Meols Mackerel's Watching Page": https://www.facebook.com/groups/1553345131606834/
    I really would welcome some new contributors/followers who share a genuine interest in all things "Watching"-related! I've never had the privilege of meeting Ms. Wray myself but I have corresponded with her brother Michael, and he sent me some signed publicity photos I now treasure. Always loved Watching and find it slightly confusing how people struggle to remember it when it had such huge viewing figures back in the '80s and '90s.
    Great reading some of the other comments on here though - hopefully "My Wonderful Life" will be brought out on DVD at some point in the future...

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  19. Hi, couldn't agree more with your comments on this page. Have just finished watching the entire 7 series which was definitely time well spent. Until I found this site I had forgotten just how funny it was. Emma (and indeed the rest of the cast) were brilliant and I agree, it would be great if the programme were brought back and we get to see what has happened to her and Malcolm over the years. if she ever returns to acting I'll definitely be tuning in!

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  20. Hi i have to agree with all the comments. I have just watched the entire 7 series, and could easily watch it again the cast were great. Emma and Paul played excellent roles and made the characters believable, even though they were opposites. Emma Wray is such an excellent actress, and she should still be on our screens!! Brenda and Malcolm need to come back!, a remake would be great and see how they have developed, matured or even mellowed (Brenda not Malcolm!!) over the years. Would be great to see if the characters had children, another Brenda on the loose!!! please please please make an update!!!!!

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  21. I've just finished watching "watching" on you tube, yes all of it. and at the end I must admit to feeling quite tearful knowing it's the end. there was nothing about the cast or the script to upset anyone, it was just brilliant from start to finish. when I first started watching it I already knew that emma had given up on acting, and by the end I cant believe how much I'm going to miss her and her talent. I too would jump at the chance to meet her and say thank you, but I guess that wont happen, so emma if by any chance you happen to read this. THANK YOU, thank you for your talent, your wit, your beauty, but most of all, thank you for being Miss Emma Wray.

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  22. Like many people on this page I too have been watching WATCHING again on Youtube and have completely fallen back in love with Emma. Takes me back to the days when British comedy was funny without having to use swear words.

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  23. I recently started buying the series on DVD. My auntie is the blonde old lady who usually was drinking in the pub with Cedric.

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  24. I recently started buying the series on DVD. My auntie is the old woman who usually was seen drinking in the pub with Cedric.

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    Replies
    1. I remember her very well from the series - I hope she is well. Many thanks for your comment and for reading.

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  25. Quite simply.....ITV's finest ever sitcom.

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  26. In later series, wasn't the theme tune updated to instrumental without the lyrics?

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  27. Wasn't the theme tune updated to instrumental without the lyrics in later series?

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    1. Only on two episodes - the one where Malcolm married Lucinda, and the last one (where he married Brenda).

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  28. Totally loved this show. Rewatched it a couple of years or so ago on YouTube about 4 times then the guys videos disappeared. Where's everyone getting their box sets from?

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    1. Amazon £18.91 - an absolute bargain!

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  29. Fantastic show, wonderful characters, Harold and Oswald were priceless!

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  30. Totally brilliant especially after a rubbish day would love to see this back on our screens.

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  31. I loved emma wray, she was the double of a girl I was engaged to in 72. I saw her in watching on many a programme and wish she could come back to the telly. Miss you Emma.

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  32. A truly excellent series. I am surprised you missed out another of the "scouse" stars, Russell Boulter, later to be a star in The Bill and now a much sought after narrator. I would love to see reruns of the original series brought to TV.

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  33. Watched the show 1st time around did not see all of it , but thought it very funny , now 2017 have watched all of the episodes back to back twice , love it loads, so so good, Emma is really so very 1st class and so very talented ,love her to bits , such a raw talent at such a young age , can't seem to find any ( My wonderful life) dvds anywhere, which is a shame , and a shame that she is not on TV anymore , but hats off to her doing what she wants to do , rather than being dragged along the fame route , Royston williams

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  34. Absolutely 1st class stunning programme , Emma is so very talented at such a young age , awesome lady , so much to offer

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  35. Can anybody give me the web address for Emma Wray fan club please

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    1. https://www.facebook.com/groups/meolsmackerel/

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  36. Caught a few episodes back in the day thought it was good cause i loved Emma's acting. Just into the box set, haven't stopped watching. Brilliant, funny, sad,. I agree with all comment's asking for Emma to return to acting. Your too much of a miss, yeah and tell the story of the married years.

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