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Victoria Wood's loss incalculable, says 'heart-sore' friend Julie Walters

Published 20/04/2016

Comedian and actress Victoria Wood, who has died aged 62
Comedian and actress Victoria Wood, who has died aged 62

Victoria Wood's close friend and long-term writing partner Julie Walters has led tributes to the comedian, who has died aged 62, describing her loss as "incalculable".

Wood died at home with her family after a short battle with cancer.

Walters said in a statement: "Too heart-sore to comment. The loss of her is incalculable."

Wood and Walters, as the comedy duo became known, 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.

One of Wood's final productions was That Day We Sang, a 2014 BBC Two musical television film of her stage play starring Imelda Staunton and Michael Ball.

Tributes came from Wood's family, and from the worlds of entertainment and politics - demonstrating the breadth of the entertainer's appeal.

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."

Absolutely Fabulous actress Jennifer Saunders said she was "devastated".

And Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted: "Victoria Wood was a national treasure loved by millions. My thoughts are with her family."

English comedienne Victoria Wood. (Photo by Roy Jones/Getty Images)
English comedienne Victoria Wood. (Photo by Roy Jones/Getty Images)
UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 01: Photo of Victoria WOOD; Victoria Wood performing on stage (Photo by David Redfern/Redferns)
Victoria Wood with her BAFTA Award for The Best Light Entertainment Performance for "Victoria Wood As Seen on TV". Photo credit: PA Wire
File photo dated 29/05/94 of Victoria Wood (left) and Julie Walters taking a break from filming "Pat and Margaret". PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.
Maxine Peake as Twinkle, Anne Reid as Jean, Victoria Wood as Bren, Thelma Barlow as Dolly and Shobna Gulati as Anita from the BBC show Dinnerladies, Photo credit: BBC/PA Wire
File photo dated 16/12/98 of Victoria Wood, who has died aged 62 after a short battle with cancer, her publicist has said. Photo credit: Dave Kendall/PA Wire
File photo dated 04/02/99 of Boyzone members Steven Gately (right) and Keith Duffy with comedienne Victoria Wood in Leicester Square, London, to help launch the 1999 Comic Relief appeal, Photo credit: Fiona Hanson/PA Wire
File photo dated 23/10/98 of Victoria Wood, who has died aged 62 after a short battle with cancer, her publicist has said. Photo credit : Matthew Fearn/PA Wire
Victoria Wood (left) Julie Walters and Celia Imrie (right) in a sketch from Acorn Antiques Photo credit: BBC/PA Wire
Victoria Wood (left) and Julie Walters, Photo credit: Peter Jordan/PA Wire
File photo dated 02/12/04 of Victoria Wood, who has died aged 62 after a short battle with cancer, her publicist has said. Photo credit: Peter Jordan/PA Wire
Victoria Wood with her two awards, one for Best Actress and one for Best Single Drama both received for Housewife 49 at the British Academy Television Awards, Photo credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire
Victoria Wood (right) and Julie Walters with the lifetime achievement award they received at the Bristish Comedy Awards 2005. Photo credit: Ian West/PA Wire
Victoria Wood receiving her CBE at Buckingham Palace. Photo credit: Steve Parsons/PA Wire
Victoria Wood with children Henry and Grace Durham after receiving her CBE at Buckingham Palace, London, Photo credit: Steve Parsons/PA Wire
Victoria Wood, who has died aged 62 after a short battle with cancer, her publicist has said. Photo credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Comedienne Victoria Wood (right) signalling the beginning of The SunWalk, London, a pirate themed charity walk to raise money and awareness for breast cancer, Photo credit: John Stillwell/PA Wire
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 16: Grace Wood and Victoria Wood attend the British Comedy Awards at Fountain Studios on December 16, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Stuart Wilson/Getty Images)
Victoria Wood, who has died aged 62 after a short battle with cancer, her publicist has said. Photo credit: Ian West/PA Wire
File photo dated 26/04/15 of Victoria Wood, who has died aged 62 after a short battle with cancer, her publicist has said. Photo credit: Ian West/PA Wire

Wood, 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 2006, 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 then made a CBE in 2008.

Wood 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.

Her older brother spoke of the shock of her death, saying it "has robbed us of one of the brightest talents of our generation".

Chris Foote Wood, 75, added: " 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."

Mr Wood continued: "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."

Wood's 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 Saunders citing her as an inspiration.

"Am devastated that she has gone and my thoughts are with her family," she said.

TV presenter Esther Rantzen said she admired Wood at the start of her career and has done ever since.

The Royle Family's Caroline Aherne said Wood 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".

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