Miss Harper said:I’m waiting for Bill Smith.
Bill said:I’m he.
Miss Harper said:Well you can sit down till he comes. Is that a Persian name?
Bill said:I’m surprised I haven’t read about you in the papers.
Miss Harper said:I’ve had my fair share of publicity… Been a bridesmaid twice… and I’ve been mugged.
Bill said:Really. Badly?
Miss Harper said:Oh no. I think he did his best.
Frances said:Posh, i’n’t it? Must o’ cost you all of thirty eight pence… I’ll slap some on over Christmas. See if I strike lucky.
Girl said:Miss, don’t get pregnant. We can’t afford any more presents.
Frances said:That’s about as likely as you passing your O-levels.
Judith said:I’ve got ‘im now. And my three bedroomed executive bungalow with Georgian portico, thank you.
Frances said:If you came to mine and I ‘ad those cups with little feet on and a Snoopy carrier bag me sister’d given me, an’ exercise handles you’d go “bleeeugh”, wouldn’t ya?
Jim said:No. I’d still be bonkers about you.
Frances said:Would ya?
Frances said:Are ya?
Frances said:Bonkers? About me?
Frances said:Jim? I really ‘ave got all those things I said.
They turn and continue their conversation and laughter.Virginia said:God, you brave thing. All those terrible kids and dreary teachers and things.
Fran said:I’m twenty nine and I teach drama.
Beverley said:Will you be down on the first night, Fran?
Fran said:Oh no. I think girlfriends should stay at home. Because basically women are inferior. And if they’re not actors they’re also extremely boring and shouldn’t be allowed out of the house.
Ted said:Oh, I think you’re being a bit ‘ard on yourself, Fran…. I think a girlfriend can be a lot of help to an actor, as long as she knows when to stay in the background. I know my lady was invaluable to me on my last telly. Did you see it? Terrifying.
Fran said:Must o’ been terrifying, yeah. Standing behind all those other actors waiting to say “I agree with you, Harry.” Tiny part, yet somehow you blew it. So don’t bloody patronise me just because I haven’t got an Equity card, a mouthful of tax deductible crockery and what is laughingly known as a widgie. And next time you feel like being condescending pick on someone whose brain is equivalent in power to yours. Which, I admit does narrow it down to a baboon, a budgie or an egg and cress sandwich.
Fran said:Jim, look. I love ya, but I just make you sad, don’t I? Shoutin’ at you. I’m mental…
Jim said:I love you. I don’t want anybody else.
Fran said:Me neither. What’re we gonna do?
Jim said:Have a cup o’ tea.
The studio audience was generally filled with pensioners who often had difficulty understanding Wood's refined humour. Before one sketch, the warm up man had to explain to them what a boutique was. Wood said she heard one disgusted audience member say to her friend: "You realise we’re missing Brideshead for this".
Wikipedia says this:
I'd agree that the audience doesn't help. The very small audience in the Pilot was noticeably quite mixed in its demographic, but far less so in early episodes of the regular series. In one early episode, the biggest laughs were reserved for Jill Summers in her solo piece while everything else got polite little titters. It's all very reserved and at times feels like the audience are there to tolerate Vic and Julie. I could really feel them having to work really hard to get the audience on side and found myself feeling quite protective towards them and willing the audience to get it.
Even though Victoria was doing all the writing, she insisted on the use of both our names in the title of the show. Sadly Peter Eckersley died suddenly in between the recording of the pilot and the making of the series, and we missed him hugely, not just as a producer but also as a man. It was never the same and we felt that the series, which was his baby, suffered enormously without him.
We recorded it up at the Granada Studios in Manchester every week on a Friday afternoon. The television studio audiences turned up with a ticket to see a show but had no idea which one it would be. As this took place in the middle of the day, it was mainly elderly people who were wheeled in and we would invariably go on set to be met by a bank of white heads, with comments that could only be attributed to the aged or the hard of hearing pinging out into the often deafening silence. ‘Who are these girls?’ and ‘What did she say?’ ‘What’s a boutique?’ ‘Is it a comedy?’ and once, ‘We’re missin’ Brideshead for this!’ This last became a private catchphrase for Victoria and me. At my BA FTA tribute in 2003 Victoria was sitting next to me and just before she got up to make her speech, she handed me a scrap of paper on which she had written: ‘We’re missin’ Brideshead for this!’
Getting through the show was often like wading through cold porridge and to whip the oldies into a frenzy of mirth a warm-up man was employed at the top of the show. Most of his jokes failed miserably, and Vic and I would wait backstage, hearts sinking as we listened to the wind blowing the tumbleweed across the vast empty space in between each gag. On one occasion when the audience was particularly ancient, with the sound of beeping hearing aids and the clack of false teeth filling the air, the warm-up man, after straining to get a laugh out of them and not succeeding, resorted, in a fit of frustration, to dropping his trousers and showing them his arse. You could have heard a pin drop.
This could not have been a more different experience to the one at Granada. It was expertly and slickly produced by Geoff Posner, and was recorded on a Saturday night as if it were a live show. There was a sketch set in a shoe shop where I played a rather batty sales assistant and Vic played a customer. She had said beforehand that she wasn’t sure whether it would work because it was so off the wall, and I wasn’t sure how I should play it, but because the whole evening had a live-theatre feel to it, it put a creative edge on everything. Just as the lights went up for the sketch to begin, I decided on the spur of the moment to stumble about in the shop window, creating havoc and knocking shoes everywhere, and we were off; it was like the old Everyman days. The sketch was brilliantly written and would have worked anyway, without my cavorting about, but what was so gratifying for me was finding the character there and then, during the show itself. The studio audience had a ball. In one sketch, involving a very old waitress taking ages to serve soup to a couple, I thought we might have to stop the sketch, as the laughter went on and on and on, with people doubled up, and I could see Celia and Duncan, who were also in it, twitching with suppressed laughter.
As far as sketch writing is concerned, Victoria is in a league of her own. Her sketches are intelligent, brilliantly observed and, without exception, immensely funny. The soup sketch came out of the two of us ordering soup from an ancient waitress in a restaurant on Morecambe sea front. This small incident was the launchpad for an iconic sketch which, knowing her speed at writing both sketches and songs, probably took her a matter of minutes. Often when we were rehearsing As Seen on TV, Geoff Posner, who also directed, would ask her to write some extra material. She would go off to the corner of the rehearsal room and ten minutes later would be back with something utterly hilarious.
It was in this series that my favourite character of all time was born: Mrs Overall. ‘Acorn Antiques’ was a sketch based on a badly made soap, inspired by the early Crossroads, in which, much to our amusement, Duncan Preston had played the part of a character called Ginger Parsons very early on in his career. It was set in an antiques shop situated in a fictional town called Manchesterford, run by the snobbish and imperious Miss Babs (no relation), played brilliantly by Celia Imrie. Mrs O was the cleaner and what a gem of a part she was. We always filmed that particular sketch the day before the show, without an audience and thus without the consequent nerves and pressure. It was heaven. I can remember the first time, as I waited to make my entrance, realising that I could see the monitor and therefore I could make sure that my tray, upon which I had tea and macaroons for Miss Babs, could poke out into shot before I was due on. The whole crew joined in, making their own similar cock-ups: the boom being in shot; Mr Clifford (played by Duncan who is six-foot five) jumping up suddenly and banging his head on it; shots being slightly out of focus and clumsily positioned. People would come from all over the BBC to watch when we were recording.
The very first time we were to record, all the elements of Mrs Overall came together at once. I was being made up, which consisted of a bit of base and a bit of lipstick making a tiny, pinched, dark-red cupid’s bow; I was also meant to be wearing a wig from the BBC wig department. Victoria and I had gone up there to sort through and see whether there was anything we wanted for the show. In the process we tried on everything in our path, including beards, once discovering that the small goatee I was trying to stick to my chin was what was known as a merkin.
‘A what?’ I asked innocently.
‘A pubic wig.’
‘Oh blimey! I wondered what the hole was for! Oh, eugh!’ Finally we came across a quite severe-looking grey bun and thought that this would do fine. So there I was, sitting in front of the make-up mirror with the wig on, a wig stand next to me and my hair flattened down in preparation, restrained by a hairnet that made my head look rather small and pealike. I looked at myself in the mirror and then looked at Victoria. We both laughed, having the same thought at the same time: ‘I don’t need a wig, do I?’ And so she was born. The public loved ‘Acorn Antiques’, a fan club was formed and twenty years later people are still coming up to me in the street and firing Mrs Overall quotes at me. ‘What was it, muesli?’ or ‘Oh, I am pleased’. So when in 2004 Vic decided to set it to music for a production to be directed by Trevor Nunn in the West End, ‘Oh, I was pleased.’
It was here at Bristol... that I read Victoria’s wonderful new play Talent, which she had, indeed, written for me. My character was called Julie and my character’s boyfriend was called Dave Walters. The play centred around a talent contest in a seedy Northern nightclub. Julie was entering the contest and Maureen, her best friend, played by Victoria, had come along for support. It fitted me like a glove, the extreme opposite of the experience I was having with Phoebe [in Shakespeare’s As You Like It]. I knew this girl exactly, what she would wear, how she would speak, how she would smoke, cry, laugh, and when she would breathe. And I wasn’t free! It had to go ahead without me and I was mortified. The part was played by Hazel Clyne, but the show was seen by Peter Eckersley, a Granada Television producer, who picked it up to be adapted for television. This meant I had a chance to audition for the part.
It was a play with songs, two of which I was required to sing, one of my own choosing (Stevie Wonder’s ‘Isn’t She Lovely?’) plus one of the numbers from the show. The latter was a gorgeous, sardonically nostalgic song titled ‘I Want to Be Fourteen Again’. When it came to my turn to sing, Victoria played it in my key, a privilege I’m not entirely sure the rest of the auditionees enjoyed. In fact at the end of the audition, just as I was leaving the room, she said, under her breath, ‘Don’t worry, I’m going to play it in a really high key for everyone else!’ I took it as a joke, but I’m not certain to this day whether it was.
Anyway, as history will confirm I got the part and there began a working friendship where Victoria gave me brilliant gift after brilliant gift. We followed Talent with a sequel the following year titled Nearly a Happy Ending. This featured the same two characters, Julie and Maureen, who had appeared in Talent and involved Maureen’s attempts at losing her virginity at some awful sales conference in a dreary hotel. Again it was both hilarious and touching, and an amazingly generous vehicle for me. It was followed fairly quickly by another one-off comedy drama titled Happy Since I Met You, in which Victoria didn’t star, and I played opposite Duncan Preston, my character being a drama teacher and his a struggling actor. It was a gorgeously bitter-sweet comedy.
When i went back and rewatched my DVD set I had forgotten that not all of it is funny, and some of it falls flat on its face. There are sketches and scenes I will happily whizz by, and same went for dinnerladies, (Anita/Sunita from Corrie, the daft baby is one example)the series has become more watchable. The first couple of regular episodes were something of a trial, but as the episodes have gone by I've found myself giving chuckles which have become less half-hearted.
thats a name i recognise - Did she say Percy in a deep gruff voice ie Phylis Pearce??Jill Summers
So synonymous with Victoria Wood and a name i will always remember from my school days due to his involvment in Not the Nine O clock newsIt was expertly and slickly produced by Geoff Posner
Mel said:You're gonna be performing for us later, aren't you?
Victoria said:Oh, for God's sake, no! Do you know which one I am?
Des said:This is our last but one show.
Victoria said:Good! I haven't even got my cup of tea.
Reading her bio - the late Peter Eckersley had a huge influence on her career and he happened to be married to Anne Reid of Corrie and dinnerladies amongst others fame
From Wiki - was a British television producer. His television career began on Granada's Scene at 6.30 programme where he worked with his friend Michael Parkinson. He went on to become Head of Drama at Granada Television in the 1960s and '70s. In the 1960s, he was also a writer and producer on Coronation Street.
She then scowls and stomps back into the kitchen. It’s a tiny moment in among a lot of other wonderful moments, but her displeasure is hilarious. Especially when combined with the awareness that she’s showing Jim up on camera.So - Phillip’s to ‘ave a crease also.
.Marion said:Faggots in rum sauce, which is quite nice. Liver aux pois. Got a sweet’n’sour haddock. Or mixed grill.
When i went back and rewatched my DVD set I had forgotten that not all of it is funny, and some of it falls flat on its face.
Ha ha. She'd previously appeared in the sequel to Talent, while Percy himself was in the original film.thats a name i recognise - Did she say Percy in a deep gruff voice ie Phylis Pearce??
So synonymous with Victoria Wood and a name i will always remember from my school days
I loved how she had her group of actors and actresses all through the years and the likes of Dora Bryan and Thora Hird must have loved it when they got the phone callGreat to see Anne Reid for the first episode's documentary. And with Dora Bryan as her mother. It makes me laugh that Dora Bryan is essentially the same character in everything. And she does the old tart thing so well, even in a wheelchair (I loved Anne's line about her kerb crawling in her scooter).
I loved that aspect too. How she kept the little group. They could have appeared in other situations. A lot like American horror story but comedy based obviously.I loved how she had her group of actors and actresses all through the years and the likes of Dora Bryan and Thora Hird must have loved it when they got the phone call
great synopsis x
I loved how she had her group of actors and actresses all through the years
I loved that aspect too. How she kept the little group. They could have appeared in other situations.
the likes of Dora Bryan and Thora Hird must have loved it when they got the phone call