The Friday Song

Audio

Victoria Wood and I were the same age. The ‘female Alan Bennett’ sadly died two years ago. She became a friend very early on in both our careers. I went to the first play she had staged and remained a pen-pal for a long time (I kept her hilarious letters).

Some performers are naturally nervous; Victoria could be spiky and uncomfortable before audiences, which is odd when you think of the career she chose in the public limelight. The difference between Wood and Bennett is that Bennett was Oxbridge and acted, and his plays ran from literary to overtly political. He and Wood both mined Northern language for comic effect, but Wood’s humour was a celebration (and gentle send-up) of working class life. When she wrote more seriously, she still wrote about people rather than ideas.

I often felt she was held back from development by some of her television work, and once urged her to write a big West End show, which she eventually did (too big, really; the National produced it and turned ‘Acorn Antiques’ into a vast, bloated but intermittently hilarious show).

Although she wrote songs with the kind of lyrics not seen in the UK since Flanders & Swan or even Noel Coward, she wasn’t much of a performer, and it took her director years to get her to stop looking directly into the camera. In other times she would have been better served by being a behind-the-scenes writer and allowing others to perform her plays and songs. On rare occasions she stayed in the background, and the results were funnier. Here’s an early song, ‘Shopping All Day Long’.

7 comments on “The Friday Song”

  1. Jo W says:

    Just what I needed ,Chris, a big guffawing laugh to start my day. I once saw Victoria Wood at the Royal Albert Hall and didn’t know whether to laugh,choke or cry. Thank you Miss Wood wherever you are, we miss you. 🙁

  2. Martin Tolley says:

    Wonderful song Mr F. VW was taken far too soon. Favourite line from her – “Life’s not fair, is it? Some of us drink champagne in the fast lane, and some of us eat our sandwiches by the loose chippings on the A597.”

  3. Trace Turner says:

    Sadly, she is almost unknown here in the US. I first saw her on a VHS tape of As Seen on TV, when I was left alone in a friend’s London flat. I loved it and so bought a copy of my own. I watched some of her clips on YouTube earlier this week.

  4. Helen Martin says:

    Great song.

  5. Ian Luck says:

    A good introduction to people who are not familiar with Victoria Wood’s genius, would be to seek out her series, ‘Victoria Wood – As Seen On TV’, or better still, her sitcom, ‘Dinnerladies’. The latter is very English, very, very funny, warm and moving in equal measure. Watching this will show you very quickly why she was so very loved. Victoria Wood had a wicked sense of humour, and wrote some very catchy and high quality songs. Yes, I’m a fan, and was very sad when she died.

  6. Denise Treadwell says:

    That was hilarious, I am not familiar with Victoria Wood, but I will seek her out on utube!

  7. Wayne Mook says:

    Splendid, after her The Woman’s Weekly will never be the same.

    Wayne.

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