Friday, 22 April 2016

The Comedy Genius of Victoria Wood

I read the following quote the other day:

“I like writing a lot more than I used to. I used to find it scary but now I’ve got used to it once it gets going. I used to find it hard to start. Fear of the blank page. The first thing you write down won’t bear any relation to what’s in your head, and that’s always disappointing.”

Wise words from the late, but hilariously great Victoria Wood - little did I know that only a few days later we would hear of her untimely death from cancer. I was going to share something else today, but I couldn’t let this blog go by without some sort of tribute. I’m sure I’m not the only one of us who was, and will remain, a huge fan of her work.

A lot of people remember a captivating performer, but, alongside the videos old and new, we will never be without some of the funniest, saddest, most captivating writing ever. From the infamous Ballad of Barry and Freda, via the side splitting drama of Acorn Antiques and Dinnerladies, to the profound Housewife 49 and tear jerking Pat & Margaret, I feel bereft that there will be no more material. I find it almost comforting that she struggled with then same things the rest of us do.

Many of us find it hard to start - that someone so hilarious and so succinct with words can have had difficulty getting started is somewhat comforting! The frustration of that first page can be palpable, and the first words might be nothing to do with the final product, but surely it’s an adventure worth starting. And just think - if Victoria Wood had never got started we wouldn’t have what we have now - if that’s not an incentive to write, nothing is.

It actually takes courage to write those first words. I’m fairly certain that I’m not the only one who looks at a blank page (or screen) and thinks I’ll never be able to write anything again. Fortunately many great writers become great writers because they faced the blank page and got going. I don’t want to be someone who never finds out what I’m capable of because I never got started.

And finally, her disappointment - that you can be a creative genius and still disappointed with what comes out is a huge encouragement! And whilst writing can start with disappointment, it can end in something wonderful. 

Here’s three things I’ve decided to learn from Victoria Woods’ huge back catalogue:

Firstly, I want to learn to write for different levels. I first heard the infamous line “Let’s Do It’ when I was about eleven. I had no idea who was doing (or not doing!) what, and wasn’t exactly an avid reader of Woman’s Weekly, but I still knew it was fall-off-your-chair funny.

Secondly, I want to find real emotion. Throughout her career, Wood was constantly full of surprises. You think she’s only funny but then she writes something like Pat & Margaret, one of the most heart wrenching scripts ever.

Thirdly, I want to learn not to limit myself. Wood has excelled in so many genres. Rather than getting stuck in a rut, I’m aiming to dip my toe in the waters of other genres, hopefully freeing up a willingness to learn.

Rest in Peace, Victoria Wood. Thank you for your legacy.

Abbie has been writing ever since she could hold a pencil. After struggling with self harm and eating disorders for a number of years, she went on to write a memoir ‘Secret Scars’ published by Authentic in 2007, and later ‘Insight Into Self-Harm’ published by CWR in 2014. In 2007 she launched Adullam Ministries, an information and support website and forum on self-harm and related issues. She blogs at Pink and Blue Mummyland and tweets as @AbbieRobson and @AdullamSelfHarm. She lives in Rugby with husband John, two demanding children, and two even more demanding cats.

Book cover: Insight into Self-Harm by Helena Wilkinson and Abbie RobsonCover of book: Secret Scars by Abbie Robson



  1. Thank you for this post. I adored Victoria Wood and had the privilege to see her live twice.

    To me one of the most dizzyingly difficult verses in the Bible is, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” It is not easy to put the two words “human” and “perfect” in the same sentence as “human” used as an adjective is synonymous with imperfect. I have never met a perfect human being and attempts to be “perfect” almost always produce a jangling and irritating falseness. Victoria Wood showed us ourselves full of all of our imperfections and frailties – fat bellies, bad breath low IQ’s, snobbery and self-delusion. With her we could just relax into being who we really are and drop the masks that we increasingly need to wear in the age of psychological Botox.

    Whatever “perfection” really is I suspect it’s closer to Victoria than to our fears of what it might mean. Anyone who can put Mrs. Overall (aka Julie Walters) in a leotard and tights and have me gasping for air gets my eternal vote of gratitude.

    May God bless her soul.

  2. Thank you for this. Very encouraging to me at the moment. And it is so good to remember the sheer genius that was Victoria Wood. I have been feeling afraid of the blank page and this post and remembering Victoria Wood's work is inspiring me to keep going despite the blank page

  3. Thank you for this. Very encouraging to me at the moment. And it is so good to remember the sheer genius that was Victoria Wood. I have been feeling afraid of the blank page and this post and remembering Victoria Wood's work is inspiring me to keep going despite the blank page

  4. She was a genius. So clever with words and, as you suggest, she had a real human touch.

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