Julie walters

The unseen Victoria Wood

For a few years now I have been living with Victoria Wood. That sounds all wrong, obviously, and yet no more apt phrase suggests itself. Not long after her death I was invited to write her authorised biography, and in due course a vast collection of documents was delivered to my address. Packed into storage boxes, which I stacked in corners and stuffed under beds, her intellectual legacy became a physical fact. It was in sifting through this remarkable archive that I started to come across work — masses of it — that had never seen the light of day. At its core was a stash of 100 television sketches.

Victoria Wood: stiletto in an oven glove

Even if you didn’t have an Auntie Dot in Cockermouth (the one who ate a raffia drinks coaster, mistaking it for a high-fibre biscuit), it was impossible not to feel Victoria Wood got you, somehow. Her death in 2016 triggered an outpouring of grief commensurate to her talent, but it also revealed how intimately, how individually, she was loved. Lazily viewed as the cosiest of national treasures, Wood was finer and fiercer than that: she distilled something essential about British character (national, regional, sexual), and her forensic skewering of middle-class aspiration, high and low culture and any and every class of stupidity managed to remain warm: a spectacular balancing act.