Victoria Wood: “A true comedy legend”

Tributes pour in for the woman who inspired generation of comedians.

The late Victoria Wood
One of the greats Tributes have poured in for Victoria Wood. Image Picture Stuart C Wilson/Getty Images

John Bishop, Kathy Burke and Ricky Gervias are among the stars who have paid tribute to Victoria Wood.

The comedy great has died aged 62 following a short battle with cancer.

After news of Wood’s death was announced on Wednesday afternoon, Ricky Gervais tweeted: “RIP the brilliant Victoria Wood. So innovative, funny and down to earth.” Referring to the deaths of fellow entertainers including David Bowie, Ronnie Corbett, Larry Sanders, Alan Rickman and Terry Wogan, Gervais added: “This has not been a good year.”

Bishop simply wrote: “A true comedy legend. RIP.” Jack Dee added: “I feel privileged to have known and worked with the great Victoria Wood. She was unique and truly brilliant.”

As well as writing and performing in classic BBC comedies such as Dinnerladies and her sketch show Victoria Wood: As Seen On TV, Wood was known for being one of the friendliest and most approachable TV faces. Summing up the feelings of many in the entertainment industry, Richard Osman tweeted: “Victoria Wood was just the loveliest. She was so funny, so clever and kind and melancholy and all the good stuff. So sad.”

Wood began as one of the success stories of ITV talent show New Faces in 1974. She soon reunited with her Manchester Polytechnic friend Julie Walters for the first of the pair’s work together on BBC1, the play Talent.

Their sketch show Wood And Walters began on ITV in 1981, switching to the BBC in 1984 under the name As Seen On TV. It featured the classic soap opera spoof Acorn Antiques. Based on cheesy ITV soap Crossroads, it starred Walters as doddery waitress Mrs Overall.

A superb stand-up as well as a sketch writer, Wood was most famous for her song Ther Ballad Of Barry And Freda, featuring a suburban woman’s kinky dreams like “Beat me on the bottom with a Woman’s Weekly” and “Smear an avocado on my lower portions”.

In 1998, Wood’s BBC1 sitcom Dinnerladies began. Lasting two series and featuring her other sketch show regulars including Celia Imrie and Duncan Preston as well as Corrie veteran Thelma Barlow, it has been cited as an influence on Ricky Gervais’ writing.

Victoria Wood with daughter Grace
From New Faces to Dinnerladies Victoria Wood with her daughter Grace.

Wood’s workrate slowed down this decade, and she fell out with the BBC after her return to sketch shows for 2009’s All The Trimmings was switched from Christmas Day to the less prestigious Christmas Eve.

But her work remained consistently superb, with Kathy Burke, Emma Kennedy and John Cleese also paying tributes to her work.

There’s a small chance other comedians will be as funny. But Wood got there first in so many fields of comedy – sketch shows, songs, plays, sitcoms – that she will always be a one-off. RIP.

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Loaded’s deputy editor John Earls has covered entertainment and sport across a range of national newspapers, plus several football and music magazines, since 1990. Follow him on Twitter at @EarlsJohn

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