It’s not a shock there’s such an outpouring of love for Victoria Wood this afternoon. Hearing of her death comes as something of a surprise, and a nasty one at that. But it’s entirely in keeping with her desire for privacy, and a life away from being famous that few people knew, and she didn’t make a big thing of it. That part of her personality struck me really powerfully when I heard her second appearance on Desert Island Discs, back in 2011.
Like many comedians, at heart, Victoria seemed to be something of an introvert. She certainly didn’t mind her own company. Thing I remember most from that interview was her answer to the question, “Do you think you’d be fine on a desert island”. Her response really resonated with me. “Yes, I would be. I’d be too fine, actually.” The interview generally shows an unsurprisingly nuanced person, who in spite of all of their undoubted gifts, still had a particulate reticence about sharing them.
But share them she did. I first remember seeing her doing the Wood & Walters shows on ITV when I was a kid. Even then there was a sense that partnership had something very special. There was a definite spark there. And of course on it went to the BBC. Those As Seen on TV shows were a high point of 80s comedy, chiming with me every bit as much as The Young Ones or the goings on at Channel 4. Those shows had a particular cadence and music of their own, and a cast to kill for : Duncan Preston, Celia Imrie, Kenny Ireland & Susie Blake. They played the score that she wrote, and which sounded just right.
And then there were the songs, of course, of which this is probably the most famous:
But then of course, afterwards, there was other stuff. Lots of it, and none of it less than wonderful. Dinnerladies. Pat & Margaret. Housewife, 49 was a tour de force that showed just a talented actress she was, and writer. God, was she ever a good writer! And then there was Eric and Ernie, which was her idea. And even with the fantastic lead performances, and the cast stuffed with talent, there she was again, playing Eric’s mum, and smashing it out of the park.
Sixty-two is no age at all and, as others have said already, she still had so much left to say and give; her loss sad not just for the ones she leaves behind, but the rest of us, who just loved the work she did.