The Velvet Onion would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Victoria Wood CBE, who passed away today.
Hailing from the Prestwich area of Bury in the North West of England, Victoria Wood started her career appearing on tv talent show New Faces in 1974, and became a regular fixture on British television across the 1980s, 90s and beyond. Through her legendary sketch show Victoria Wood: As Seen on TV and her impeccable live appearances, she forged a blisteringly funny, inimitable path through observational comedy that paved the way for generations of comedians to follow.
Whilst not a mainstay of her work, Wood nevertheless rubbed shoulders with a number of our regularly featured artists during her career, beginning with a supporting role in Terry Jones’ 1996 adaptation of The Wind in the Willows, which co-starred Steve Coogan as Mole alongside Jones, Eric Idle, and a cavalcade of British comic talent. She later made another, even more memorable cameo in The League of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse as Queen Mary II, who is saved from a wicked homunculus by Reece Shearsmith‘s Geoff.
In 2011, Wood joined Sharon Horgan, Christopher Eccleston and Stephen Fry in the BBC’s lavish remake of The Borrowers, and the following year she made several guest appearances in the fourth series of Ruddy Hell! It’s Harry and Paul – the sketch show vehicle for Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse which also featured Kevin Eldon, Alice Lowe, Lucy Montgomery, Justin Edwards and Simon Greenall.
Also during this period, she appeared in the Comic Relief spoof Uptown Downstairs Abbey which featured Katy Wix and was made by the power couple of Adrian Edmondson and Jennifer Saunders; and both inspired and starred in the award-winning Eric & Ernie, which reunited her with Reece Shearsmith as well as working alongside Vic Reeves. And late last year, she played Eve in Sky’s festive delight Fungus the Bogeyman starring Timothy Spall, which also featured Paul Kaye as The Bogeyhunter, in what would turn out to be her final acting role.
However, all of this is a side-step in a long and vital career of her own, as a comedian, actress, musician, playwright, screenwriter and director. The highlights are numerous: the aforementioned As Seen on TV with its pitch perfect soap-opera pastiche Acorn Antiques; the BAFTA-winning live hour An Audience with Victoria Wood; the charming Pat and Margaret which saw Wood and frequent collaborator Julie Walters reunite in a poignant comic play about two long-lost sisters.
Then there’s the much loved BBC One sitcom dinnerladies, which aired two series between 1998 and 2000. Or the BAFTA winning drama she wrote and starred in, Housewife 49, about the true story of Nella Last. Or her acclaimed musical That Day We Sang, later turned into a TV movie. And that’s barely scratching the surface: she even had a #1 hit in 1991, and appeared on Celebrity Bake Off with Kayvan Novak! Not to mention all those delightfully witty ditties she penned and performed so frequently.
She was also, by all accounts, a truly lovely human being, who always had time for everyone. And that included The Mighty Boosh, whom she was a huge fan of. In 2012, Mike Fielding told us: “I really love Victoria Wood, actually. It would be amazing to work with her on something, but I’m sure it would never happen. I really admire her writing, and would love to work with her in whatever context I could. She’s the only person I’ve ever gone starstruck at. She came backstage at one of our shows and I wanted to tell her how much I loved her work, but I just sounded like Beaker from The Muppets!”
Put simply, Victoria Wood CBE was a giant in British entertainment, and the world will be a sorrier place without her.
Victoria Wood CBE, Rest in peace. We shall miss you.
To further demonstrate her enormous influence, here’s what some of our favourite folk had to say…