Comedian Victoria Wood dies of cancer, 62

By Jill Lawless, AP

LONDON — Victoria Wood, a British comedian who found humor in everyday life and blazed a trail for other female comics, has died. She was 62.

Wood died Wednesday at her London home “after a short but brave battle with cancer,” said her publicist, Neil Reading.

Born in Greater Manchester in 1953, Wood got her first break in 1974 winning the TV talent contest “New Faces.” As a woman from North West England she was an outsider in the world of British comedy, but became a well-known standup, and got her own TV show in the 1980s with “Victoria Wood as Seen on TV.”

One recurring element was “Acorn Antiques,” a spoof soap opera complete with wobbly sets and even wobblier acting that many consider a comic classic.

A versatile talent, Wood performed solo and in ensembles, played comic songs on the piano and wrote scripts for the stage and television.

Her sharply observed comedy found humor in everyday British life — especially Northern English life, with its strong strain of downbeat humor. Several commentators compared her to playwright Alan Bennett, another chronicler of class, self-consciousness and social awkwardness.

Mark Gatiss, co-creator of TV series “Sherlock” and member of comedy troupe the League of Gentlemen, tweeted that Wood “had a kindly yet savage eye for the ordinariness and the grotesquerie of life.”

Wood wrote sketch shows and one-off dramas for TV while continuing to perform live, often to sold-out crowds. She created and starred in the late-1990s sitcom “Dinnerladies,” set in a factory canteen. It featured an exceptional, mostly female, cast including Julie Walters, Celia Imrie and Maxine Peake.

“She made it OK to be a woman and be funny in the UK,” said former BBC chairman Michael Grade. “She blazed the trail.”

Many female entertainers hailed Wood as an inspiration.

Writer Caitlin Moran tweeted: “Seeing Victoria Wood on TV — working class, bookish, silly, clever, doing stand-up, singing, acting — made me think ‘Girls can do this.’”