Victoria Wood (1989 TV series)

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 comedian 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.

Victoria Wood
Victoria with Patricia Hodge and Jim Broadbent in a still from the episode 'Staying In'
Created byVictoria Wood
StarringVictoria Wood
Julie Walters
Celia Imrie
Lill Roughley
Anne Reid
Meg Johnson
Susie Blake
Jim Broadbent
Patricia Hodge
Joan Sims
Jane Horrocks
Julia St. John
Una Stubbs
No. of series1
No. of episodes6
Producer(s)Geoff Posner
Running time30 minutes
Original networkBBC1
Picture format4:3
Original release16 November (1989-11-16) 
21 December 1989 (1989-12-21)

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]

While the 1992 and 1993 VHS releases of the series were titled Victoria Wood, the 2007 DVD release was called Victoria Wood Presents.


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

No. Title Directed by Written by Original airdate
1"Mens Sana in Thingummy Doodah"Kevin BishopVictoria Wood16 November 1989 (1989-11-16)

Victoria and her friend Lill (Lill Roughley) book a stay at Pinkney's health farm with the intention of losing weight. But the merciless regime forces Victoria, Lill and their new friends, Connie and Enid, to mount an escape — as far as the village café.

Featuring: Julie Walters (Nicola); Lill Roughley (Lill); Liza Tarbuck (Dana); Meg Johnson (Connie); Anne Reid (Enid); Georgia Allen (Sallyanne); Selina Cadell (Judy); Bryan Burdon (Maintenance man); Rosalind March (Melanie Dickinson – girl on video); Peter Martin (Man in café).
2"The Library"Geoff PosnerVictoria Wood23 November 1989 (1989-11-23)

Victoria helps her friend Sheila (Anne Reid), who uses the services of the library's video dating agency, by tagging along on the dates — just in case one of the men turns out to be an axe-murderer!

Featuring: Anne Reid (Sheila); Carol MacReady (Madge, the librarian); Richard Kane (John, the assistant librarian); Philip Lowrie (Keith); David Henry (Richard); Danny O'Dea (Ted).
3"Over to Pam"Geoff PosnerVictoria Wood30 November 1989 (1989-11-30)

Victoria accompanies her hairdresser friend Lorraine (Kay Adshead) to a daytime TV interview on Live With Pam. But the show's snobbish host Pam Cunard (Julie Walters) gets her comeuppance when, at the last minute, Lorraine disappears and is impersonated by Victoria.

Featuring: Julie Walters (Pam); Kay Adshead (Lorraine); Meg Johnson (Saundra, the Console Television receptionist); Shirley Cain (Marge); Julia St. John (Caroline); Hugh Lloyd (Jim); Margery Mason (Alma); Lill Roughley (Sue); William Osborne (Neil); Charubala Chokski (Dr. Rani Najitwar); Alison King (Canteen server).
4"We'd Quite Like to Apologise"Kevin BishopVictoria Wood7 December 1989 (1989-12-07)

Victoria is looking forward to a holiday in the sun, but ends up instead hanging around an airport passenger lounge with her fellow passengers waiting for their somewhat delayed plane to arrive.

Featuring: Julie Walters (Joyanne); Una Stubbs (Una); Lill Roughley (Barbara); Philip Lowrie (John), Jane Horrocks (Kathy); Celia Imrie (Carol, the SunSeaKing representative); Susie Blake (Girl at check-in desk); Rosalind March (Woman in car); Valerie Minifie (Woman in lift); Peter Martin (Man on travelator); Rory Bremner*, David Jacobs†, Duncan Preston§, Graham Seed* (Voices).

* Radio voices. † As himself. § Voice of Captain Lewis.
5"Val de Ree (Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha)"Kevin BishopVictoria Wood14 December 1989 (1989-12-14)

Victoria and her friend Jackie (Celia Imrie) go off on a walking and camping holiday across the Yorkshire Dales, but find they are unable to erect their tent and have trouble finding somewhere to sleep. There's only one way for Victoria and Jackie to get into the youth hostel run by the haughty and slightly mad Susan — and that's to pretend to be the survivalist lecturers expected to give a talk that evening about living for sixteen weeks on a remote Scottish island!

Featuring: Celia Imrie (Jackie); Siân Thomas (Girl on farm); Michael Lumsden (Jamie); Avril Angers (Mim); Michael Nightingale (Daddy); Joan Sims (Susan, the youth hostel warden).
6"Staying In"Geoff PosnerVictoria Wood21 December 1989 (1989-12-21)

Victoria wants to stay in for the night and watch television, but receives a telephone call from her stuck-up friend Jane (Deborah Grant), who drags her along to a posh London dinner party hosted by Moira (Patricia Hodge).

Featuring: Patricia Hodge (Moira); Deborah Grant (Jane); Phyllis Calvert (Hilary); Lill Roughley (Dulcie); Roger Brierley (Gerald); John Nettleton (Charles); Jim Broadbent (Alan); Bryan Burdon (Jim); Celia Imrie (Woman on television/Julia/Television soundtrack female voice); Susie Blake (Judith); Richard Lintern (Kevin); Dawn Archibald (Ailsa); Susan Leong (Doris, the Filipino waitress); Peter Goodwright (Television soundtrack male voices).

Mens Sana in Thingummy Doodah

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 Victoria 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'.[5]

Publisher: Methuen
Year: 1991
Original Price: £4.99
ISBN №: 0-7493-0818-4
Availability: Out of print

In other media


Victoria Wood - Mens Sana in Thingummy Doodah (with The Library and Over to Pam)

Label: BBC Video
Release Date: 1992
Catalogue №: BBCV 4843
Availability: Deleted

Running time: 85 minutes. BBFC "PG" certificate.

Victoria Wood - We'd Quite Like to Apologise (with Val de Ree (Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha) and Staying In)

Label: BBC Video
Release Date: 1993
Catalogue №: BBCV 4844
Availability: Deleted

Running time: 80 minutes. BBFC "PG" certificate.


Victoria Wood Presents

Label: 2|Entertain (Classic TV)
Release Date: 2007
Catalogue №: CCTV 30608
Availability: Out now; also available as Disc C in 7-disc set Victoria Wood Collection (BBCDVD 3311), released in 2010

Running time: 163 minutes. BBFC "PG" certificate.


  1. Victoria Wood – The Biography, Neil Brandwood, Ted Smart, 2002, pp. 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. Mens Sana in Thingummy Doodah, Victoria Wood, Methuen, 1991, p.1
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