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Actors pay homage to Victoria Wood

Victoria Wood's death was announced today
Victoria Wood's death was announced today

The news of Victoria Wood’s death, from cancer aged 62, has led to a massive outpouring of grief, with many taking to social media to pay homage to the much-loved comedian.

Two of those particularly affected locally are actors Ruth Linnett and Carol Roache, both associate members of Stratford’s Bear Pit Theatre, who are due to put on An Evening with Wood & Walters at the venue for a three-night run from 1st July.

Speaking to the Herald, Ruth and Carol told us about their reaction when they found out the news: “It was a massive shock, no one knew about it – it’s dreadful. I was literally at the BBC News website when it popped up. I’ve been watching Sky news since,” said Ruth.

Carol, 34, added: “It is shocking and so unexpected – unbelievable that we have lost such an immense talent.

“I remember watching Dinner Ladies on television with my family, we all loved it – the writing was absolutely genius. And you could tell that the ensemble cast deeply cared about the show.”

Ruth said that she too was a Victoria fan from a young age: “I grew up on her. When I was younger, living in Hinckley, we watched all her sketches and knew them off by heart. Maybe we were old before our time but at school we would quote her sketches over and over – the Soup, Trolley and Turkish Bath sketches were some of our favourites.

“I’m just 40 and she really spoke to our generation,” said Ruth. “She spoke about a lot of things that were taboo, like sex in her famous Let’s Do It song – the ballad of Barry and Freda.”

Carol picked up the point: “She did so much to pave the way for female comedians too. I wonder if the likes of French and Saunders would have got to the level they did if she hadn’t done her thing first of all – comedy is such a male-dominated industry, even more so than acting.”

“She didn’t just write for herself but for other people too,” added Ruth. “She had this amazing talent and didn’t just save it for herself; she was very humble in that respect.

“She was totally genuine and a genius. I’d like to think we could get someone like her again – but I’m not sure anyone could follow in her footsteps.

“There’s a lot of sadness and shock, but a lot of celebration too. On social media everyone is posting their favourite sketches. Which is wonderful to see.

“There seems to have been a lot of great people dying recently, starting with Cilla Black; hopefully Victoria’s joining in on the party up there at the moment,” said Ruth.

She continued: “It feels strange that we’ve been putting the show on at the Bear Pit; although I haven’t had a chance to discuss it with the other people involved yet.

“Carol and I play both play Wood and Waters, alternating the sketch, and we’ve got a very talented cast with us.

”We first got the idea of doing it after discussing it with the theatre’s artist director David Mears – we all share the same sense of humour, that appreciation of Acorn Antiques!

“I’m sure Victoria would say the show must go on. It will certainly be an emotional evening, I hope we can do Victoria justice," concluded Ruth.

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