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'Comic genius' Victoria Wood dies at age of 62

By Laura Harding

Victoria Wood's close pal Julie Walters has led tributes to the comedian who has died aged 62, describing her loss as "incalculable".

The actress 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."

The pair forged a lifelong friendship while auditioning at Manchester Polytechnic's student theatre as teenagers. They collaborated frequently, most recently in 2009 in Victoria Wood's Mid Life Christmas.

Wood's elder brother spoke of the shock of his sister's death, saying it "has robbed us of one of the brightest talents of our generation".

Chris Foote Wood (75) said in a statement: "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.

"Victoria's children, my niece Grace and nephew Henry (Durham) will be devastated to lose their mother at such a relatively young age."

Wood, who was born in 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 big break as a winner on New Faces and won two other Baftas earlier in her career, both for best light entertainment.

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 fellow comedians, friends and colleagues were quick to pay their respects, with Absolutely Fabulous actress Jennifer Saunders citing her as an inspiration.

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

TV presenter Esther Rantzen said she admired her at the start of her career and had 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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