Documentary inspired Wood's musical
Victoria Wood has revealed how her Christmas TV musical spectacular was inspired by a documentary she watched almost 40 years ago.
Imelda Staunton and Michael Ball star in That Day We Sang, written and directed by the comedienne, about two lonely middle-aged people who grab a second chance at life after meeting at a 1969 reunion of the Manchester Children's Choir, who made the iconic Columbia recording of Nymphs and Shepherds in 1929.
Victoria, 61, revealed how she was 22 and living in a bedsit in Birmingham when she saw a documentary about the choir's reunion.
"Something stayed with me. The idea that maybe you have this special day and your subsequent life may not quite match up to that memory," she said.
But it was only when she was asked to write something for the Manchester International Festival in 2011 that her idea for a play came to fruition.
"I thought, I do want to write about the choir and the record, but most of all, I want to write about these two middle-aged people and how it could be their second chance. Music is so powerful, and connecting with a piece of music could plunge them back into life."
And now the musical has been adapted for TV to air on BBC Two tonight (December 26).
Victoria said: "It brings together everything I love; singing, dancing, comedy, love and chips. A musical set in 1929 and 1969, complete with tap dancing children, singing coal men and possibly a tram, was always going to be a big undertaking, but I lived in the blissful world of ignorance and I think that helped. Each day, you just did what you had to do. I look at it now and go, 'Blimey!'."
And the Dinner Ladies star also confessed she landed her dream casting in Imelda and Michael.
"I thought of Imelda and Michael before [they appeared in Sweeney Todd], but imagined they were out of my league.
"Imelda's very particular and I didn't think she'd want to do it. I don't know why. I self-deprecated myself out of the equation. I always knew Imelda was great and took a punt in Michael," she joked.