Victoria Wood CBE (19th May 1953 - 20th April 2016) was comic royalty, and it’s no surprise to discover she once beat the Queen Mum into second place in a ‘person you’d most like to live next door to you’ poll. Her combination of personal warmth and brilliant comic timing was such a perfect addition to the QI format. Sadly, the famously shy and private person didn’t really do panel shows and - as one of the nation’s favourite dramatists, musicians, actresses and comedians - she was usually busy producing wonderful original work of her own. But, after a decade of gentle coaxing, Victoria finally appeared amidst the spoons and forks and turnspit dogs of the Kitchen show.
Victoria first came to prominence in 1974 when she won the ITV talent show New Faces. Following a stint on the BBC’s That’s Life! she wrote a series of dramas beginning with Talent in 1978, which transferred to television in the same year and marked a 35 year creative partnership with fellow actress Julie Walters.
Over the next two decades, Victoria gave us a string of landmark comedy series such as Wood and Walters and Victoria Wood As Seen On TV, which spawned the spoof soap opera Acorn Antiques, later to become an award-winning West End musical. Following a decade of sell-out stand-up shows and one-off TV specials – including the BAFTA winning An Audience with Victoria Wood (1989) – she wrote and starred in her first sitcom, Dinner Ladies. Like much of her comedy, the precision of the writing meant that moments of genuine pathos alternate with belly laughs without lessening the impact of either. In 2006, her adaptation of the wartime diaries of a Northern woman, Housewife, 49 won her two BAFTAs for Best Drama and Best Actress.
Whether playing comic or serious roles, the core to Victoria Wood’s appeal was her ability to instantly make you feel that she’s an old friend. ‘I think a lot of very seemingly shy people have got this ability to connect with a group, rather than one-on-one’, she told the Guardian. ‘And I just knew, I just knew I had that. I couldn't define it, but I knew I had it.’
Her passing in 2016 was a huge loss to comedy; both her warmth and her wit were an inspiration to many.
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