Victoria Wood was still a drama student at Birmingham University when she got her first break, winning the ITV talent show New Faces in 1973, at just 20 years old.
She had wanted to be a performer since seeing a live show by Joyce Grenfell at the age of six. But the talent show victory wasnít the instant passport to success she might have hoped for - as her inexperience meant any live gigs she did land went badly.
In 1976, she became a regular on the consumer show Thatís Life! singing a weekly comedy song, and supported Jasper Carrott on tour that year. She also met her husband, magician Geoffrey Durham, that same year. They divorced in 2002.
Her writing also provided another route to fame. In 1978, she wrote and performed a sketch for the In At The Death revue show at Londonís Bush Theatre, acting alongside Julie Walters for the first time.
A year later, Wood wrote an award-winning play called Talent for Granada, set on the northern club circuit and starring herself and Walters.
The pair had their own ITV sketch show, which only ran for one series, but the partnership was enduring, with Walters a regular on her As Seen On TV BBC shows (which included the spoof soap Acorn Antiques), her sitcom Dinnerladies and various one-offs. The pair alternated the role of Mrs Overall when Acorn Antiques became an unlikely West End show in 2004.
As well as her TV work, Wood has written a number of comedy books, including It's Up to You, Porky, Barmy and Mens Sana In Thingummy Doodah.
Considering her fame, Wood has not been that prolific over her 30-year career, yet her comedy is so well-crafted and well-observed that it bears up to regular repeats, ensuring her a place among British comedyís greats.
She was awarded the OBE in 1997 and the CBE in 2008. In 2005, she and Julie Walters were given the British Comedy Award for Outstanding Achievement.
She's also won six Baftas, a Writers' Guild Award and a Broadcasting Press Guild Award, among many others.
Quite simply one of the top stand up comics, male or female, that the UK has ever produced. Victoria Wood, Billy Connolly and Ken Dodd are the guv'nors.
The Grande Dame of Female Comedy. Period. Currently underrated, due, I suspect, to an apparent lack of product over the past five years save the re-hash of Acorn Antiques as a musical. Watch Dinnerladies (over and over again) for the best comic writing in terms of smart one-liners and nifties in history. Bury Council ought to commission a statue of her for the most prominent place in its town centre.
Not my favourite but I do quite like her. She's certainly done a lot for female comedians. Went to a show of hers a few years back and there was everyone in the audience from children to pensioners. Think her materials now going a bit too far down the menopause/middle age/mumsy road now though.
Good on Acorn Antiques bad on everything else
Victoria Wood: Midlife Christmas
Victoria Wood: The Biography
by Neil Brandwood. Updated reprint.