Victoria Wood (1989 TV series)

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Victoria Wood
Victoria Wood with Patricia Hodge and Jim Broadbent in 'Staying In', 1989
Created by Victoria Wood
Starring Victoria Wood
Julie Walters
Celia Imrie
Lill Roughley
Liza Tarbuck
Anne Reid
Meg Johnson
Kay Adshead
Una Stubbs
Jane Horrocks
Joan Sims
Phyllis Calvert
Jim Broadbent
Patricia Hodge
No. of series 1
No. of episodes 6
Running time 30 minutes
Original network BBC1
Original release 16 November 1989 (1989-11-16) – 21 December 1989 (1989-12-21)

Victoria Wood was a series of six one-off situation comedies written by and starring Victoria Wood in 1989, who took a break from sketches, two years after her very successful and award winning series Victoria Wood As Seen On TV. Wood appeared as "Victoria" ("Miss Wood" in episode one), a fictionalised version of herself, in all six episodes - in The Library it was said that she "worked in TV" and in Over To Pam characters appeared to recognise her celebrity (although two confused her with Dawn French) and in the final episode, Staying In, she was taken to a party to perform as a comedienne and was expected to go through her stand-up 'routine'. Her character often broke the 'fourth wall' of TV and spoke directly to the camera, but not in every episode.

Bored with the sketch format and with a yearning to recapture previous success as a playwright, Wood came up with six individual sitcoms as a compromise. She admitted to finding the writing difficult. Though Wood was written as the central character, other lead parts were written with specific actresses in mind, like Julie Walters and Una Stubbs. "I want people to like me and the people who play my friends, and not everybody else" she said.[1] Screenonline says of the shows "Modest in ambition and scale but rich in wit and acuity, the six playlets showcase Wood's eye for human foibles and her distinctively eccentric characters.".[2]


The series was met with a mixed critical reception initially.[3] The series started out with an impressive 13 million viewers tuning in, but by the next week had dropped to 11 million. Wood regretted the decision not to record it in front of a studio audience and described the filming as a "boring, diabolical and awful" experience. The Daily Express described the show as 'tiresome stuff' and the Daily Mirror said her targets were predictable and snobbish. Wood took some blame for the disappointing reaction saying "It wasn't well written by me as it could have been, and I shouldn't have been in all the sketches".[4]

Episode guide[edit]

  • Show 1Mens Sana in Thingummy Doodah
  • Transmitted 16 November 1989
  • Victoria attends a health farm.[5][6][7]

Featuring Julie Walters, Lill Roughley, Liza Tarbuck, Meg Johnson, Anne Reid, Georgia Allen, Selina Cadell & Peter Martin.

  • Show 2The Library
  • Transmitted 23 November 1989
  • Victoria helps her friend Sheila (Anne Reid) who uses the services of a dating agency.[8][9]

Featuring Anne Reid, Carol MacReady, Richard Kane & Philip Lowrie.

  • Show 3Over to Pam
  • Transmitted 30 November 1989
  • Victoria chums her hairdressing friend (Kay Adshead) to a daytime TV interview on 'Live With Pam'. But the snobbish host Pam Cunard (Julie Walters) gets her comeuppance when a working class teenage girl guests.[10][11]

Featuring Julie Walters, Lill Roughley, Kay Adshead, Meg Johnson, Julia St. John, Hugh Lloyd, Margery Mason and Shirley Cain.

  • Show 4We'd Quite Like to Apologise
  • Transmitted 7 December 1989
  • Victoria hangs around an airport passenger lounge waiting with her fellow passengers for their plane to arrive.[12][13]

Featuring Julie Walters, Lill Roughley, Celia Imrie, Susie Blake, Una Stubbs, Jane Horrocks, Philip Lowrie, Peter Martin & the voice of Duncan Preston.

  • Show 5Val de Ree (Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha)
  • Transmitted 14 December 1989
  • Victoria and Jackie (Celia Imrie) go on a walking holiday across the moors.[14][15]

Featuring Celia Imrie, Joan Sims, Michael Nightingale, Avril Angers & Sian Thomas.

  • Show 6Staying In
  • Transmitted 21 December 1989
  • Victoria wants to stay in, but her stuck up friend drags her along to a posh London dinner party.[16][17]

Featuring Celia Imrie, Lill Roughley, Susie Blake, Patricia Hodge, Jim Broadbent, Deborah Grant, Phyllis Calvert, John Nettleton, Roger Brierley and Richard Linton.

Mens Sana in Thingummy Doodah[edit]

Front cover of 'Mens Sana in Thingummy Doodah' (Methuen, 1991). A collection of the six scripts from 'Victoria Wood'.

In 1991, the scripts of all six shows were published by Methuen as "Mens Sana in Thingummy Doodah – And other nuggets of homely fun". The book is dedicated to "All the old bags in Equity, most of whom were in the series". The book contains an exclusive introduction by Wood about what it's like to make a TV programme.

Once the Writer has finished writing, she takes the 'scripts' to the BBC where a seventeen-year-old Secretary spills coffee on them and leaves them behind the photocopier. When the Secretary leaves the BBC to become a full-time sunbather it can sometimes be a jolly long time before those 'scripts' come to light! And sometimes when they do they have been hidden for such a long time they have become 'dated' and 'unrealistic'. But fortunately, the BBC will still make them into 'programmes'.[18]


  1. ^ Victoria Wood – The Biography, Neil Brandwood, Ted Smart, 2002, p.151-152
  2. ^ "Screenonline – Victoria Wood (1989)". Screenonline Online. 2007. 
  3. ^ "Museum TV – Victoria Wood". Museum TV. 2007. 
  4. ^ Victoria Wood – The Biography, Neil Brandwood, Ted Smart, 2002, p.159
  5. ^ "BFI page on Mens Sana in Thingummy Doodah". BFI. 2007. 
  6. ^ "BBC Shop – Victoria Wood Presents". BBC. 2007. 
  7. ^ "IMDB page on Mens Sana in Thingummy Doodah". IMDB. 2007. 
  8. ^ "BFI page on The Library". BFI. 2007. 
  9. ^ "IMDB page on The Library". IMDB. 2007. 
  10. ^ "BFI page on Over To Pam". BFI. 2007. 
  11. ^ "IMDB page on Over To Pam". IMDB. 2007. 
  12. ^ "BFI page on We Would Quite Like to Apologise". BFI. 2007. 
  13. ^ "IMDB page on We Would Quite Like to Apologise". IMDB. 2007. 
  14. ^ "BFI page on Val de Ree". BFI. 2007. 
  15. ^ "IMDB page on Val de Ree". IMDB. 2007. 
  16. ^ "BFI page on Staying In". BFI. 2007. 
  17. ^ "IMDB page on Staying In". IMDB. 2007. 
  18. ^ Mens Sana in Thingummy Doodah, Victoria Wood, Methuen, 1991, p.1

External links[edit]