UK Cabaret pays tribute to the memory and talent of a national treasure

Victoria-WoodVictoria Wood

UK Cabaret pays tribute to the memory and talent of a national treasure.

The almost universally admired comedian, writer and actress Victoria Wood has died, after a battle with cancer. She was 62.

Born in Prestwich Village Lancashire, Wood was a quiet children who learned the piano and endured a complex childhood.

Her first big show business break came, whilst seated at the piano, when she won the TV talent show New Faces in 1974. However, despite this early exposure, the television executives didn’t seem to know what she was capable of, or where the young Victoria actually fitted.

A regular slot in Esther Rantzen’s consumer show That’s Life followed in 1976, but five years of touring theatres and clubs followed, before her marriage to the magician Geoffrey Durham AKA The Great Soprendo in 1982. The marriage produced two children, but the couple separated in 2002. During her intensive run on the cabaret and theatre scene, Victoria gradually managed to integrate more stand-up comedy into her act. Although the piano remained an integral part of the act, the sharply observed observational and self-effacing style of comedy began to be honed and developed.

Victoria Wood hit the big time as a result of teaming up with actress and close friend Julie Walters, in the TV series Wood and Walters. The show in itself failed to hit the heights, but what followed was quite extraordinary. Victoria Wood- As seen on TV was a triumph and one of its off-shoots Acorn Antiques, made television history, as well as a subsequent stage show.

Victoria Wood appeared in drama parts in film and television, playing anything from Eric Morecambe’s Mum in the TV film Eric& Ernie, to a motorway services worker in the poignant and wonderful Pat and Margaret, in which Julie Walters also co-starred.

A multiple Bafta winner, Victoria Wood will forever be remembered as Bren in her canteen classic Dinner Ladies. From cabaret nightspots and small theatres to national treasure status, the career of Victoria Wood straddled four decades and paved the way for many other women to perform in stand-up comedy. An all-time show-business great? Certainly.

Mark Ritchie

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