Comedian, singer and writer Victoria Wood has died after “a short but brave” battle with cancer aged 62.
Her publicist said the star “died peacefully at her north London home with family” on Wednesday.
Wood’s long-time comedy partner Julie Walters said she was “too heart sore to comment – the loss of her is incalculable”.
Wood found fame in the 1980s and was best known for her BBC sketch Acorn Antiques and comedy Dinnerladies.
She won five Baftas including two for her one-off ITV drama Housewife, 49.
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Wood got her first break on the TV talent show New Faces in 1974, while still a student at Birmingham University.
She established herself as a comedy star with her hit show Victoria Wood: As Seen On TV and went on to create the popular BBC comedies Acorn Antiques and Dinnerladies, featuring her long-time collaborator Julie Walters.
The pair became friends in the 1970s and first worked together on TV in 1981 on the comedy sketch show Wood and Walters.
Acorn Antiques also spawned a musical, which Wood wrote and was directed by Trevor Nunn in 2005.
‘Inspiration to women’
Entertainer Michael Ball, who was a friend of Wood’s and worked with her on the musical That Day We Sang, told the BBC she was a “trailblazer” for other female comedians.
The Radio 2 DJ said: “She gave inspiration to other women because she wasn’t having to be sexy and rude, although she was all of those things. She was just brilliant.
“She made it seem to other women, you can do this. You just need to look at the various social media feeds to see the people she’s influenced.”
Ball said Wood, who he had “idolised” before working with, was “very private” and had not wanted people to know how ill she was.
“To then work with her and become friends and to become so close was a privilege,” he added.
Fellow comedians have also been paying tribute, including Jennifer Saunders, who tweeted: “Can’t believe Vic has gone. She was truly an inspiration and had so much left to to give and we won’t see it. She was so funny.”
Sir Lenny Henry said: “I am devastated – this is very, very sad news. Victoria will be sorely missed. Always funny, she worked incredibly hard. A killer stand-up and a fantastic songwriter. My condolences to all her family.”
Catherine Tate said: “The news is devastating. It’s so shocking and sad. We have lost an incredible talent who was a huge influence and inspiration to so many – a true game changer.”
Jenny Eclair tweeted: “All of us women in comedy owe a huge debt of gratitude to Victoria – she paved the way.”
John Cleese tweeted: “Shocked by news of Victoria Wood. I worked with her last year and was reminded of just what a superlative performer she was. Only 62!”
Jack Dee tweeted: “I feel privileged to have known and worked with the great Victoria Wood. Unique and truly brilliant.”
Ricky Gervais said: “RIP the brilliant Victoria Wood. So innovative, funny and down to earth. This has not been a good year.”
Sarah Millican also tweeted her sadness: “So incredibly sad to hear that Victoria Wood has died. A true comedy icon.
BBC entertainment correspondent Lizo Mzimba
Victoria Wood will be remembered for her talent and her outstanding versatility.
Her keen observational style meant she was able to create memorable characters, routines and songs in the world of comedy and beyond – she applied the same skills to her Bafta-winning drama Housewife, 49.
Audiences related to her wit and warmth, and particularly her ability to find the humour in the most ordinary situations.
Most of all they recognised she was one of the most gifted entertainment figures of her generation. Comedian, writer, singer, actor. She could do it all
Wood appeared on BBC One’s That’s Life! in 1976, which brought her into millions of homes on a frequent basis.
The show’s presenter and Childline founder Dame Esther Rantzen was also among those who paid tribute.
“I think she is one of our greatest comic writers and performers, but she could also deal with serious issues as well, and she’s a huge loss,” Dame Esther said.
“She did a one-woman show for Childline where I felt hugely privileged to interview her and she told the story of her life with such wit. She just held us all enchanted for a whole evening.”
Harry Potter author JK Rowling retweeted a link to a video of Wood performing one of her comedy songs, Reincarnation Song, saying: “Watch and weep. 62 is far too young. RIP Victoria Wood.”
Victoria Wood’s older brother Chris says her death “has robbed us of one of the brightest talents of our generation”.
20:07, Wed 20 April 2016
Comedian and actress Victoria Wood has died from cancer at the age of 62.
She passed away at her home in London surrounded by family, her publicist said.
In a statement her older brother Chris said her death “has robbed us of one of the brightest talents of our generation”.
“It wasn’t just that Victoria was hugely talented in so many different fields, she was also outstanding in her tremendous, single-minded drive and determination to pursue her chosen career,” he said.
Her long-time friend and comedy partner Julie Walters said she was “too heart sore to comment.”
“The loss of her is incalculable,” she said.
Tributes To ‘Comedy Icon’ Victoria Wood
In a career spanning over 40 years Wood wrote and starred in numerous sketches, plays, films and sitcoms, including the award-winning comedy Dinnerladies.
She also toured the country for years with her live comedy show, in which she showcased her famous talent for impressions, witty social observation, and for composing and performing comical songs.
She won numerous accolades for her work on stage and screen, including five Baftas, and was made a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2008.
Announcing her death, her publicist, Neil Reading, said: “Victoria Wood has sadly passed away, after a short but brave battle with cancer.”
Born in Prestwich, Lancashire in 1953, Wood first appeared on our screens in 1974 when she won the talent show New Faces, while studying drama at Birmingham University.
She went on to become a regular on Esther Rantzen’s BBC consumer show That’s Life!.
Wood got her own TV show, Victoria Wood As Seen On TV, in the 1980s, for which she won her first Bafta in 1986.
It featured the household favourite Acorn Antiques, a spoof soap opera which she later turned into a sellout musical with collaborator Julie Walters.
She won another Bafta for An Audience With Victoria Wood in 1989 and a Bafta tribute award in 2005.
Her hit series Dinnerladies, which ran from 1998-2000, saw her reunited with Walters, who she first met while auditioning at Manchester Polytechnic’s student theatre aged 17.
In 2006 she won two Bafta awards for acting and writing for her drama Housewife, 49, an adaptation of the diaries of Nella Last.
Paying tribute to Wood, comedian Katy Brand told Sky News she “was the whole package… Fantastic mimic, silly sense of humour and fascinated by the minutia of ordinary life.
“I think that is what she wanted to represent, the poetry of ordinary life.”
Actress and comedian Jennifer Saunders tweeted: “Cant believe Vic has gone. She was truly an inspiration and had so much left to to give and we won’t see it. She was so funny.#VictoriaWood.”
Comedian and actor David Walliams wrote: “I have such happy memories watching #VictoriaWood ‘s TV shows with my mum, dad & sister. She was a humble genius.”
Journalist and writer Caitlin Moran wrote: “Seeing Victoria Wood on TV – working class, bookish, silly, clever, doing stand-up, singing, acting – made me think “Girls can do this.”
Wood’s long-term manager and friend, Phil McIntyre, said: “Victoria has been a part of our lives as a friend, devoted mother and national treasure for 30 years. She was always modest, generous and undemanding.
“A super person and a super and unique talent. There will be an unfillable void left on all levels and we will miss her deeply.”
Wood was married to the magician Geoffrey Durham, known as the Great Soprendo for 22 years. The pair divorced in 2002.
She is survived by two children, Grace and Henry.