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Brother pays tribute to 'one of greatest comic talents of our time'

Published 21/04/2016

Victoria Wood's brother Chris Foote Wood, pictured, said he was
Victoria Wood's brother Chris Foote Wood, pictured, said he was "her biggest fan" (Family handout/PA)

Victoria Wood has left devastated fans a "tremendous body of work", her brother and "number one fan" has said.

Proud Chris Foote Wood said his sister was still on top form when she was struck down by cancer at the age of 62.

Speaking at his home in Darlington, in front of framed photos of the musician, writer and award-winning actress, he said: "It has been an enormous blessing to me.

"I am so lucky to be the brother of one of the greatest comic talents of our time."

The widower, 75, a journalist, writer and performer, said he had not know of his sister's terminal illness.

Thirteen years her senior, he said he left home in Bury, Lancashire, when she was only five, and they were not close growing up.

"I was not aware of her terminal illness," he said.

"She kept that very much within her immediate family.

"After all, there's 13 years between us, she lives in London and I live here in the North East and we are not close in that respect, although I did love her dearly.

"I think I was her biggest fan.

"But she was a private person, particularly not just for herself but for her children."

Mr Foote Wood said his sister hated being called a national treasure, but he acknowledged the depth of feeling at her loss.

"I must say I have been surprised and very pleased at the outpouring of grief and interest there has been in Victoria.

"It shows how much she has been taken into the national psyche.

"People are always asking me about Victoria because I am very proud of her, I'm her number one fan, and I'm very pleased to talk about her.

"So many people can remember and quote to me some of the various sketches, some of the characters she has created, it is fantastic to think that this tremendous body of work is still available for us to enjoy for ever more.

"Although she has sadly gone at 62, and I think it is a great loss to the world, because Victoria was always moving on, always looking to do something new, she had so much breadth of talent, whatever she turned her hand to became a success.

"There was a lot more she would have done, had she lived.

"At least she has been able to leave us all these wonderful shows, stories, sketches and songs, and they will continue to be enjoyed for many, many years."

Victoria was a shy, often-unhappy child, who found an outlet in writing and performing, Mr Foote Wood said.

Their father Stanley, who was a musician and part-time script writer, had a quirky sense of humour, while their mother was "not humorous in any way".

"I am bound to say, Victoria's humour is her own, it is unique to her, her view of the world, her interpretation of the world, which she gives to our great delight on stage and screen, is entirely her own."

Although she brought her children, Grace and Henry, up in Highgate, north London, she retained her love of the North, he said. "She was proud of being a Northerner, she never turned into a luvvie."

Her outstanding talent was matched by her determination, he said. "It was quite a number of years before she made the breakthrough, she had a lot of early struggles because she had her own brand of comedy, but she persevered with it.

"It was not always a success but her character, her determination, brought her through and gave her the deserved success that she has had."

Mr Foote Wood said his sister was a performer on stage but left showbusiness behind when she closed the theatre door and loved her role as a mother, striving to keep family life as normal as possible.

"She took enormous satisfaction from her children, she was terrifically proud of them."

His sister was always generous with her time for her fans, stopping after shows to speak to them.

He laughed that her autograph was only worth £2 on eBay, because she had signed so many.

Mr Foote Wood changed his name by deed poll when he married his late wife Frances Foote.

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