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Desert Island Discs

Victoria Wood

Victoria Wood, right, with Julie Walters. Don Smith/Radio Times/Getty Images

In 1978 Victoria Wood’s play Talent had its première at the Crucible, Sheffield. This week it was revived in the same theatre. Set in a grotty northern nightclub, it follows the mishaps of Julie, an aspiring star who competes in talent contests. Wood wrote the script and songs, played the piano throughout, and starred as Julie’s “fat friend” Maureen – all at the age of 25. Not bad for someone who was told at university that she’d never make it on stage. I did drama at Birmingham and they never put me in the plays, Wood told Michael Parkinson on Desert Island Discs in 1987. During one show they made her play the piano at the end, while people left the theatre. “So I wrote a song about how I should have had a part.” The crowd loved her song and Wood loved songwriting. “I got my own back.”

Some of her revenge plots were less successful. Like Julie in Talent, Wood tried her hand at talent contests. I first entered to spite an ex-boyfriend, she says. “I thought, well, I’ll win, and he’ll come and see me being terribly famous, and he’ll be terribly hurt and wounded.” She arrived to sing, only to find that the club’s piano was bolted to the floor. “I had to play with my back to the audience.” She pauses. “That was probably a blessing in disguise.”

🎵 Saxo-Rhapsody, Eric Coates

🎵 Symphony No 7 in C sharp minor (third movement), Prokofiev

🎵 African Ripples, Fats Waller

🎵 Inbetweenies, Ian Dury & the Blockheads

🎵 Piano Concerto in F, George Gershwin

🎵 Let’s Do It, Noël Coward

🎵 In a Mist, Bunny Berigan

🎵 Lock Me Up, the Weather Girls

📕 The collected works of Arthur Marshall

🎁 A cinema organ

Listen to the episode here. Wood appeared on the show for a second time in 2007.