It’s been two years since Victoria Wood died and last week I realised, all over again, how much I miss her. She’s been on my mind lately as I have a new book coming out (it’s a poetry book, don’t worry you don’t have to read it – unless, of course, you like poetry) and one of the poems is inspired by one of my favourite Wood characters: Kelly-Marie Tunstall, who is always stood waiting for a bus telling her friend about her latest dating exploits.
Her monologues are delivered in bullets and at break neck speed. Kelly-Marie asks insightful questions like: “What’s brought this on, bird bath?” or, “Do you want a kick up the bum with an open-toed sandal?”. She wears striped leggings and is usually wrapped in PVC with a fright wig daubed in pink and blue hair dye. She’s loud, she enjoys low-fashion, she’ll freely talk about exploratory surgery and she spits and tics for England.
However, like a lot of Wood’s characters, underneath Kelly-Marie’s bus stop bravado there’s a deep vein of pathos running alongside the beautifully observed humour. We get the briefest of insights into her hopes and dreams when she reports an imagined end-of-date, doorstep conversation with a boy who has the manners of a gentleman and treats her with respect.
That never happens for real, of course, but we see her innermost thoughts, and she’s a young woman a lot of us can identify with. All this week I’ve been watching re-runs of her series As Seen On TV and it’s still fit for purpose. Wood’s sketches hilariously explore sexuality, gender and women’s issues and still feel hugely relevant, and the mini mockumentaries she was making back in the mid-80s paved the way for a lot of our new-fangled comedy.
Though I am loathe to endorse any streaming service, As Seen On TV has just been released on one whose name does not begin with an A. Go and watch it now, you’ll be laughing all day at Kitty (played by Patricia Routledge) and of course the glorious Acorn Antiques. “What is it? Muesli.”