1 9 8 5 – 1 9 8 7 (UK)
13 x 30 minute episodes
This BBC2 monologue and sketch showcase for former New Faces winner Victoria Woods featured a formidable repertory cast including Julie Walters, Patricia Routledge, Maureen Lipman and Celia Imrie.
The whole series was comedy as not often seen on TV – clever and original, with Wood’s pictures and music coupled with a genuinely quirky personality.
Wood’s songs included the perennially successful hymn to mismatched libidos, The Ballad of Barry and Freda, aka “Let’s Do It” (“This folly is jolly, Bend me over backwards on me Hostess trolley”).
With Susie Blake as a condescending continuity announcer (“We’d like to apologise to our viewers in the North – it must be awful for you”), a stereotyped, ‘grim up North’ kitchen-sink melodrama with Pete Postlethwaite and Kay Adshead, marvellously bitchy daytime presenters Joan (Wood) and Margery (Walters), as well as a series of ratbags in cafe queues, the show was the obvious winner of the 1985 Best Comedy BAFTA.
The best soap opera of 1985 was undoubtedly Acorn Antiques. Set in a provincial antiques shop that somehow managed to acquire a steady stream of Michelangelos, Leonardos and Picassos – and with the cast continually fluffing their lines, the set in constant danger of collapse and the cameraman seeming to have had one too many in the pub at lunchtime – Acorn Antiques was a joyous disaster, inexorably reminiscent of the halcyon days of Crossroads.
In the wizened old Mrs Overall, forever on hand with tea and home-baked biscuits, it gave Julie Walters one of her most memorable characters. Such was its impact that Wood revived Acorn Antiques for a stage musical in 2005.
Wood’s subsequent TV offerings included a transfer to BBC1 with Victoria Wood (1989) and Victoria Wood – Live In Your Own Home (1995). She also wrote, starred in and co-produced the comedy gem, Dinnerladies (1998).
Victoria Wood died on Wednesday 20 April 2016 at her North London home after a short battle with cancer. She was 62.