Victoria Wood

Victoria Wood

Date of birth: 19-05-1953

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 wasn’t 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 That’s 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 London’s 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 comedy’s 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.

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The Unseen Victoria Wood archives

Material revealed in new Dinnerladies documentary

Victoria Wood’s previously unseen notebooks, backstage photos, diaries and studio records are to be revealed in a new TV series paying tribute to her sitcom Dinnerladies.

The UKTV Gold channel has commissioned three hour-long episodes to mark the 20th anniversary of her comedy series next year.

The broadcaster says:  ‘Dinnerladies Diaries tells the story of how this groundbreaking comedy was conceived, developed, produced and why Victoria chose to end it after just two series.’

Iain Coyle, the executive producer for UKTV, said: ‘These days the phrase "national treasure’" gets bandied about all too often but in Victoria’s case, it is apt and accurate.  

‘The folks at Phil McIntyre TV have uncovered some extraordinary material, that will give us a unique insight into how one of our best-loved shows was conceived and produced."

And Lindsay Jex from the programme-makers added: ‘We have unearthed some truly amazing unseen gems from the archive combined with first-hand insight from the cast and crew, this series will tell the definitive story of this award-winning sitcom. ‘

The commission follows other retrospective documentaries on Gold, including The Story Of Only Fools And Horses,  Bring Me Morecambe and Wise and The Interviews.

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Published: 13 Sep 2017

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