Comedian and actress Victoria Wood has died aged 62 after a short battle with cancer, according to her publicist.
Neil Reading said: “The multi Bafta award-winning writer, director, actor and comedian died peacefully at her north London home with family this morning. The family ask for privacy at this very sad time.”
Victoria was renowned as a groundbreaking female TV comic in an era when the genre was almost exclusively male. Her career started when she won New Faces in 1974.
She had a close relationship with Julie Walters and their early careers were forged on summer TV plays, especially 1980’s Happy Since I Met You, part of ITV’s Screenplay series.
Their sketch show Wood and Walters ran for two years on ITV from 1981, but it was in 1985 that Victoria became a household name, with her BBC series Victoria Wood: As Seen on TV, which featured classic recurring sketches and the soap opera parody Acorn Antiques.
Julie also appeared in another of Victoria’s biggest hits, the BBC1 sitcom Dinnerladies (1998-2000).
The awards soon began piling up. She won a Bafta for best light entertainment performance in 1986 for As Seen on TV and won it again three years later for An Audience With Victoria Wood. She went on to win five Baftas, including two for her 2007 ITV wartime drama Housewife 49.
She was awarded OBE in the 1997 Queen’s Honours List and became CBE in the 2008 Queen’s Birthday Honours List for her services to drama.
Victoria’s comedy was whimsical, wry and rooted in the minutiae of ordinary life.
She joked: “I once found myself in bed with a man who was a real do-it-yourself enthusiast … he ripped off all his clothes and said ‘What would you like me to do?’ I said, ‘Well, really, I’d like you to fix my overflow and repoint my brickwork.”
In 2013 she made a two-part BBC series, Victoria Wood’s Nice Cup of Tea, a quirky celebration of Britishness which included, among others, Morrissey.
There has been an outpouring of tributes from actors, celebrities and fans…
EastEnders star Mick Carter said a world without Victoria was ‘a sad sad thing’, adding that she was his first major crush.
A world without Victoria Wood is a sad sad thing. My first major crush. R.I.P beautiful. 2016…the year of taking the greats.
— Danny Dyer (@MrDDyer) April 20, 2016
The Reverend Richard Coles tweeted that ‘no one has made me laugh more’.
Just heard of the death of Victoria Wood. No one has made me laugh more. May flights of angels wing her to her rest.
— Richard Coles (@RevRichardColes) April 20, 2016
Comedian Sarah Millican called her a ‘true comedy icon’.
So incredibly sad to hear that Victoria Wood has died. A true comedy icon.
— Sarah Millican (@SarahMillican75) April 20, 2016
My Mad Fat Diary star Sharon Rooney said spending an afternoon with Victoria was one of the ‘best moments’ of her life.
So upset that Victoria Wood has passed away. I got to spend an afternoon with her through @BAFTA .It was one of the best moments of my life.
— Sharon Rooney (@sharonrooney) April 20, 2016
Julian Clary said ‘you always made us howl with laughter’.
Such sad news. RIP Victoria Wood. You always made us howl with laughter.
— Julian Clary (@JulianClary) April 20, 2016
Victoria was born in Prestwich, Greater Manchester in May 1953. She was married to stage magician Geoffrey Durham, although they divorced in 2002. She has two adult children, Grace and Henry.