Wood is a talented comedy actress/writer/singer who has built up
a national reputation following a string of self-written TV plays,
films and sketch shows. Born in 1953 in Lancashire in Northern England
she first had small screen exposure in the TV talent search show
New Faces when she sang comedy songs of her own composition. Accompanying
herself on the piano, she scored heavily with viewing audiences
with her jaunty tunes, which often belied her sharp, poignant lyrics.
Her regular themes of unrequited love, tedium, mismatched couples,
and suburban living as well as her ability to find humour in the
minutiae of modern life, stood her in good stead when she moved
into writing plays for the stage and later for television.
Talent, her first play adapted for television (Granada, 5
August 1979), reunited her with Julie Walters who she had met at
Manchester Polytechnic. Their partnership would launch both their
careers. Talent deals with a mismatched couple: the ambitious
would-be cabaret singer Julie Stephens (Walters) and the eternally
sniffing Maureen, her plump, dull, but loyal friend (played by Wood)
who had accompanied Julie to a talent contest. The bitter-sweet
comedy explored themes of desperation, dashed hopes, lost ambition
and hopeless romances. The fact that it managed to be both funny
and truthful demonstrated Wood's skill as a writer and the pair's
acting ability. A sequel, Nearly A Happy Ending (Granada,
1 June 1980) appeared the following year. This time the couple were
going out for a night on the town, pausing en route at a slimming
club. Wood was then quite portly, and occasionally her material
dealt with what being overweight meant to oneself and others. Later
in her career she slimmed down considerably.
Following Nearly A Happy Ending, Wood and Walters appeared
in a one-off special Wood And Walters: Two Creatures Great And
Small (Granada, 1 January 1981) which led to the series Wood
And Walters (Granada, 1982). It was the series Victoria Wood:
As Seen On TV (BBC), however, that truly established Wood as
a major TV star. A sketch show introduced by a stand-up routine
from Wood, the program also featured a musical interlude. Julie
Walters, Patricia Routledge, Susie Blake, Duncan Preston and Celia
Imrie provided strong support, and one favourite section of the
show was "Acorn Antiques," a spoof of cheaply made soap operas.
As Walters film career blossomed, Wood's comedic talent continued
to mature, and by the end of the 1980s she was a big draw on the
live circuit. Her stand-up routine relied on observational humour
as she drew laughs from finding the idiosyncrasies of normal modern
life. She followed a long line of (male) northern comedians and
her style of taking her storylines into surreal areas, as well as
her character inventions, especially the gormless "Maureen." On
television she remained determined to try something new and not
merely revamp winning ideas. To this end, she wrote and starred
in a number of half-hour comedy playlets under the generic title
Victoria Wood (BBC 1989), her first series not to attract universal
acclaim. She also appeared in a number of solo stand-up shows, and
in a one-off spoof of early morning television news magazine shows,
Victoria Wood's All Day Breakfast (BBC, 31 December 1992).
feature-length TV film Pat And Margaret (BBC, 11 September
1994), Wood's most ambitious project to date, was her most accomplished
reworking of her mismatched couple theme. In this context, Pat (Julie
Walters) is a successful English actor in a hit U.S. soap (a la
Joan Collins) who is reunited with her sister Margaret (Wood) on
a TV chat show. The pair hadn't been in touch for 27 years and neither
was happy about the meeting. Once again, bitter-sweet themes of
escape and despair were explored and once again, despite this tone,
Wood's comedic ability triumphed.
Photo courtesy of Victoria Wood
WOOD. Born in Prestwich, Lancashire, England, 19 May 1953. Attended
Bury Grammar School for Girls; University of Birmingham, B.A. Drama
and Theatre Arts. Married: Geoffrey Durham, 1980; one son and one
daughter. Worked on regional television and radio, 1974=-78; theatre
writer; formed television comedy partnership with Julie Walters;
star of her own series and one-woman stage shows, writing her own
material; appeared in numerous television series; author of several
books. D.Litt: University of Lancaster, 1989; University of Sunderland,
1994. Recipient: Pye Colour Television Award, 1979; Broadcasting
Press Guild Award, 1985; British Academy of Film and Television
Arts Award, 1985 (twice), 1986, 1987, 1988 (twice); Variety Club
BBC Personality of the Year Award, 1987; Writers' Guild Award, 1992;
Broadcasting Press Guild Award, 1994; Monte Carlo Best Single Drama
Critics' Award, 1994; Monte Carlo Nymphe d'Or Award, 1994. Address:
Richard Stone Partnership, 25 Whitehall, London SW1A 2BS, England.
1981-82 Wood and Walters
1984, 1986 Victoria Wood--As Seen on TV
1989 Victoria Wood
1994 Victoria Wood Live in Your Own Home
1994 Pat and Margaret
1988 An Audience with Victoria Wood
1992 Victoria Wood's All Day Breakfast
1980; Good Fun, 1980; Funny Turns, 1982; Lucky
Bag, 1984; Victoria Wood, 1987; Victoria Wood Way
Up West, 1990.
to You, Porky. London: Methuen, 1985.
Fun and Talent. London: Methuen, 1988.
Sana in Thingummy Doodah. London: Methuen, 1990.