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Wood and Walters (1982)

Courtesy of ITV Global Entertainment Ltd

Main image of Wood and Walters (1982)
Granada Television for ITV, 1/1-21/2/1982
6 x 30 min plus pilot (1/1/1981), colour
WriterVictoria Wood
DirectorStuart Orme
ProducerBrian Armstrong
Producer (pilot)Peter Eckersley

Victoria Wood; Julie Walters; Robert Longden; Roger Brierley

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Sketches, songs and stand-up with Victoria Wood and Julie Walters

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Victoria Wood's first TV series (follow-up to a 1981 one-off) saw her teamed with Julie Walters, a friend and collaborator since 1978. Walters not only gets equal billing, but is, at this stage, in danger of overshadowing her partner. She is visibly the more accomplished actress, and exudes a confidence that the more introverted Wood can't always match. The material, though, is unmistakably Wood's.

But although her distinctive style is already evident, the series suggests that Granada, and perhaps Wood herself, weren't quite sure how to position her. The format and staging is essentially off-the-peg ITV light entertainment, when Wood's subtle, intricate comedy would have benefited from a more tailored presentation. The guests, too, suggest that the producers couldn't decide whether she'd work best with variety acts or alternative comedians (Rik Mayall, John Dowie).

However, the series improves from its shaky start, and Wood finds ways to shape the format to suit her strengths, notably with endearingly self-deprecating interludes featuring her and Walters out of character, trying to persuade Granada's security guard to let them in, or wondering why the producer fails to congratulate them after the show.

Wood's comic preoccupations are already in place, with sketches based on class misunderstanding (mismatched computer daters: "Do you like Manet?", "Well, I spend it if I've got it, obviously."), the pricking of pretensions, social cruelty and everyday eccentricity. But the songs, however witty, are too much to the fore, and the detailed character-studies of Wood's later work are notably absent.

The one recurring character is Walters' appalling agony aunt Dorothea Chubb, who addresses the audience each week on "the little problems we all face as we ladder the tights of life". Bitchy, bewigged and dressed in a lurid pink twin-set ("dyed to the exact colour of Daddy's face before his second stroke"), Dotty dispenses her dubious wisdom with the brook-no-dissent confidence of a true provincial tyrant - an ancestor of Patricia Routledge's Kitty in the later Victoria Wood - As Seen on TV (BBC, 1985-86).

One particularly ambitious sketch features a victim of a fertility drug overdose and her legions of babies ("742 to start with, but a couple got mislaid on the way back from the hospital"). The set is strewn with 70 howling toddlers (one of them also called Victoria Wood), collected through an advertisement in the Manchester Evening News.

Mark Duguid

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Video Clips
1. Two gossips (2:38)
2. Auditions (1:15)
3. Dotty's Slot (3:52)
4. 'You're Gonna Be Back Next Month' (2:30)
6. Post-show larking about (0:33)
Complete show: Part 1 (13:01)
Part 2 (11:59)
Talent (1979)
Victoria Wood - As Seen on TV (1985-86)
Walters, Julie (1950-)
Wood, Victoria (1953-)
Funny Women on TV