Wood decided to concentrate on stand-up comedy, an entirely male-dominated field at the time, although her trademark look of a tweed jacket and tie gave her an androgynous appearance. After two years of touring and building up audiences, the BBC came calling and her first big television success came with Victoria Wood As Seen On T.V. Surrounding herself with the same performers she would continue to use through dinnerladies, the sketch series was best known for a hilarious parody of soap operas, Acorn Antiques, which sent up the cheapness of the long-running Crossroads. Patricia Routledge (Keeping Up Appearances) as "Kitty" was also featured on the series.

Although her success was now sealed, including winning a BAFTA for Best Light Entertainer, Wood veered off in a different direction again, stopping production on As Seen On T.V. after only two years and a Christmas special, this time to concentrate on An Audience With Victoria Wood, an ITV special with a celebrity audience. Now touring regularly (and able to consistently fill the largest venue in Britain - a feat equaled only by Shirley Bassey and Ken Dodd), filmed versions of her shows would become a regular TV staple including Live In Your Own Home, Sold Out, and We'd Quite Like To Apologise.

In 1994 for the BBC she wrote a TV movie to reunite her with Julie Walters, Pat and Margaret, about two sisters, one common, the other an international star. Some thought the two characters were really a representation of the two sides of herself, the "famous" Victoria Wood (though surely not as nasty as played by Julie Walters), and the "ordinary" Victoria Wood, wife and mother of two. A 1996 Southbank Show profile of her tour culminating at the Royal Albert Hall (the only comedian to sell out 15 nights in a row there), demonstrated the seeming simplicity of her act and all the hard work that goes into it.

In 1998 she wrote her first full-fledged sitcom, dinnerladies, about cafeteria workers in a Manchester company. Filled with many familiar faces from her earlier shows, the show was a big success in Britain and has now been shown on BBC America, giving U.S. audiences their first glimpse at this great talent. True to form, she has ended production on dinnerladies, but given her track record, Wood is sure to be working on the next page of her great career.

> > Page 1, 2

Previous Features