This Saturday an exhibition celebrating the life of Victoria Wood will open in her native Bury. The exhibition features items selected from Wood’s literary estate, which were maintained in London by her old agents after her death aged 62 in April 2016.
The star’s Baftas and OBE will be on disply alongside plenty of treasures. Visitors to Bury Art Museum will be able to see original scripts, song sheets, photos and costumes, including the yellow beret she wore playing one of her most-loved characters, the lost girl looking for her friend Kimberley. Also featured is the red velvet dress Wood wore to play Ann Widdecombe in a Christmas special.
There are three versions of the lyrics to probably her most famous song, The Ballad of Barry and Freda, an ode to middle-aged love-making originally called Let’s Do It as earlier versions reveal.
Available to watch for the first time is backstage footage of the filming of Victoria Wood’s All Day Breakfast, her Christmas Day BBC special in 1992, and a recording of a rehearsal of Dinnerladies before a live audience.
Aspiring comedy writers might be interested to see a script Victoria sent to the BBC while a student at Birmingham University, rejected by the broadcaster and returned to sender, as well as an even earlier Wood original: a story she wrote for Bury grammar school’s magazine in the 1960s, called Pardon?
Susan Lord, the curator of the exhibition, said the exhibition gives “a behind-the-scenes look at Victoria Wood’s creativity. It gives an insight into her thought process. She was a very lateral thinker who loved to take ideas and play with words.”
Victoria’s brother, Chris Foote Wood, is set to give a speech at the opening of the show on Saturday: “She would write, rewrite, write again and rework her scripts… Actors would complain that they turned up for rehearsals and learned all their lines, only to come in on the Saturday to find Vic had been up all night rewriting them all. She was adamant that the audience should be given the best.
“When she was making Dinnerladies she would write more episodes than would ever be broadcast so that the weakest one could be thrown away.”
A statue of Victoria will be erected in Bury next year.
The Victoria Wood exhibition at Bury Art Museum runs from 8 September this year until September 2019. Admission free.