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The story behind Victoria Wood's career, legacy and sad death

Victoria Wood: A BAFTA tribute will air on BBC Two on Saturday

victoria wood
Francesca Shillcock
Senior Features Writer
20 February 2021
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When the subject of British comedy springs to the mind, it's hard not to think of Victoria Wood. From her writing and acting talents in shows that struck gold with viewers such as Dinnerladies, to her warm and witty sketches in Victoria Wood As Seen on TV – the comedy star was not only a household name, but a national treasure for a number of decades.

MORE: Victoria Wood's brother defends his decision to publish tell-all biography

WATCH: Maxine Peake reveals fitness advice from the late Victoria Wood 

But sadly, her unexpected death shook the TV and comedy world, leaving a large hole in her absence. To celebrate her genius and work, the BBC are airing a tribute programme Victoria Wood: A BAFTA tribute. Teaming up with BAFT, the BBC will be celebrating Victoria's life while speaking to a host of celebrities while looking back over her amazing career. 

victoria wood bafta© Photo: Getty Images

Victoria Wood sadly passed away in 2016

How did Victoria Wood die?

When the news of Victoria Wood's death broke in April 2016, many fans and fellow acting colleagues were left in shock. The actress, who was aged 62 and mother to two children, Henry and Grace, had been diagnosed with terminal cancer in late 2015 but had chosen to keep her illness away from the public eye, making the astonishment of her passing more prevalent.

Her publicist and family explained in a statement that the 62-year-old had passed "peacefully at her north London home with family."

victoria as seen on tv© Photo: Getty Images

Victoria in her sketch show As Seen On TV

Her older brother, Chris, said in a statement at the time: "I feel that Victoria's death has robbed us of one of the brightest talents of our generation. 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."

He added further: "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 Woods: tributes and legacy

Soon after the news broke, close friend and comedy partner Dame Julie Walters explained she was "too heart sore" to comment. "The loss of her is incalculable," she said. Many other actors and TV stars reacted to the sad news of her passing, all hailing her a huge talent and loss to the world of British comedy. Michael Ball said at the time: "She gave inspiration to other women because she wasn't having to be sexy and rude, although she was all of those things. She was just brilliant."

victoria and julie© Photo: Getty Images

Victoria and Julie Walters were firm friends as well as comedy partners

He added: "She made it seem to other women, you can do this. You just need to look at the various social media feeds to see the people she's influenced." Sarah Millican wrote on Twitter: "So incredibly sad to hear that Victoria Wood has died. A true comedy icon." While John Cleese tweeted: "Shocked by news of Victoria Wood. I worked with her last year and was reminded of just what a superlative performer she was. Only 62!"

victoria wood dinnerladies© Photo: Getty Images

Victoria Wood in her sitcom Dinnerladies

Victoria Wood's career

Victoria began her career on TV after adapting her comedy play Talent for screen, which was met with huge praise and then creating Wood and Walters with Julie Walters, who became her comedy partner-in-crime.

Victoria then gained huge recognition for As Seen On TV, An Audience With Victoria Wood (for which she was awarded a BAFTA) and Dinnerladies starring Victoria, Julie, Maxine Peake and Celia Imrie.

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