Victoria Wood

(Potted history by Caroline Marshall)

Born in 1953, Victoria Wood wanted to be famous since she was just four years old. At 12, she began to like the idea of singing songs or being a comedy actress, but it wasn't until at the age of 15 that her talent began to shine. She joined a local youth theatre group, and from being a shy schoolgirl only interested in the music lessons at school, she became known as a witty and humourous person with bags of talent. She went on to study drama at Birmingham University and first found her way onto the stage through her music.

In 1973 Victoria won the TV talent show 'New Faces' at just 20 years old. Despite her obvious musical and comedy skills however, her originality meant that it was very difficult to categorise her; she sang funny songs - so couldn't be called a stand up comic, or a musician. Because of this, agents were reluctant to take her on, and she remained lesser known for a few years, during which she continued her interest in theatre.

She met Geoffrey Durham in 1976 when they worked together on stage in Morecambe, he was a conjurer and she played the piano. They later married and now have two children, Grace and Henry.In 1978 she was asked to write songs for a show at the Bush Theatre, and she later submitted a sketch for the show that was included in an emergency at the last minute. She also performed in this sketch alongside a then relatively inknown actress named Julie Walters. It was here that VictoriaWood and Julie Walters began their long working partnership, and a year laterVictoria wrote a play called 'Talent', which was made into a television show that they starred in together.

In 1980 they were given their own TV show 'Wood and Walters' but this onlylasted for one series. Soon afterwards, Julie Walters was given the starringrole in the Oscar-winning film 'Educating Rita', while in the meantimeVictoria returned to the stage. Music had lost its popularity in varietyshows so she started learning how to present her 'lyrics' in the form ofstand-up comedy. She did a number of live, solo shows in front of smallaudiences, but it wasn't until she reformed with Julie Walters in 1984 that she became a household name.

She began writing for the BBC, a comedy series called 'Victoria Wood as Seenon TV' - a hugely successful show which won two BAFTA awards and led to a second series and a Christmas Special.From there Victoria moved to ITV for a one-off 'Audience With Victoria Wood' stand up show in front of the likes of French and Saunders and similar comedy greats.

Alongside her TV successes Victoria wrote a number of comedy sketch and song books, including It's Up to You, Porky (1985), Barmy (1987) and Mens Sana in Thingummy Doodah (1990).

Her next piece of work which won much acclaim was the TV film Pat and Margaret in 1994, which described her 'As Seen on TV' pals Celia Imrie, Julie Walters and Duncan Preston. Among one critic is Mrs Merton star Caroline Aherne who describes the film as being 'Absolutely Brilliant'.

She has won an OBE and countless awards for her outstanding comedy shows, while still continues to do live stand-up tours (most recently in 1997). Her latest project is something a little bit new, she's written a sitcom called Dinner Ladies (1998) which was one of the BBC's most promising and successful sitcoms of last year. Alongside herself as Bren, among the cast are of course Julie Walters (playing Bren's mum!), Celia Imrie and Duncan Preston. This has already been praised and will undoubtedly prove that Victoria Wood is one of British Television's greatest assets.


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