Victoria Wood’s close friend, actress Julie Walters, is leading tributes to the comedian who has died aged 62, describing her loss as ‘incalculable’.
Julie said in a statement: “Too heart sore to comment. The loss of her is incalculable.”
The pair forged a lifelong friendship while auditioning at Manchester Polytechnic’s student theatre as teenagers. They went on to collaborate frequently on a professional basis, most recently appearing together in December 2009 in Victoria Wood’s Mid Life Christmas.
Victoria’s older brother spoke of the shock of his youngest sister’s death, saying it ‘has robbed us of one of the brightest talents of our generation”.
Chris Foote Wood, 75, said in a statement: “It wasn’t just that Victoria was hugely talented in so many different fields, she was also outstanding in her tremendous, single-minded drive and determination to pursue her chosen career. Success did not come easily to Victoria, and it was only after years of struggle that she achieved her well-deserved national acclaim.
“I am hugely proud of what my sister has done so successfully in different fields of entertainment. It has been a privilege to have her as a sister, and particularly to have been able to observe at first hand how she developed her career from the earliest beginnings.
“Victoria’s two children, my niece Grace and nephew Henry (Durham) will be absolutely devastated to lose their mother at such a relatively young age.
“Another reason I admire Victoria is that she was determined from the start to give her two children as normal an upbringing as possible and to shield them from unwanted media attention.
“In this she succeeded superbly, aided in every way by her then husband Geoffrey Durham who has continued his close support for their children after he and Victoria divorced in 2002.”
Victoria, who was born in Prestwich, Lancashire, was well known for her comedy series Victoria Wood: As Seen On TV, as well as her role in sitcom Dinnerladies and her TV special Victoria Wood With All The Trimmings.
In 2007, she won two Bafta awards for acting and writing for her drama Housewife, 49, an adaptation of the diaries of Nella Last.
She got her showbusiness break as a winner on New Faces, and won two other Baftas earlier in her career, both for best light entertainment performance.
She was honoured in 2005 and received a special Bafta tribute award.
In 1997, she was made an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours and was made a CBE in 2008.
Victoria was also showered with accolades for her live comedy and her tours broke records. She performed a record-breaking 15 nights at the Royal Albert Hall in 1993 as part of a six-month tour of the country.
Prime Minister David Cameron was among those paying tribute to the star.
Victoria Wood was a national treasure loved by millions. My thoughts are with her family.
— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) April 20, 2016
BBC director-general Tony Hall hailed her ‘stunning array of talents’”, saying: “She brought people from all walks of life together and made them laugh and cry.”
Her long-term manager and friend, Phil McIntyre, said: “Victoria has been a part of our lives as a friend, devoted mother and national treasure for 30 years. She was always modest, generous and undemanding. A super person and a super and unique talent. There will be an unfillable void left on all levels and we will miss her deeply.”
Her fellow comedians, friends and colleagues were also quick to pay their respects, with Absolutely Fabulous actress Jennifer Saunders citing her as an inspiration.
“Am devastated that she has gone and my thoughts are with her family,” Jennifer said.
TV presenter Esther Rantzen said she admired her at the start of her career and has done ever since.
The Royle Family’s Caroline Aherne said she had a ‘rare gift of making us laugh at the mundanities of life with a humour that was never cruel and only ever warm. A true comic genius’.