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Let's Do It: The Authorised Biography of Victoria Wood

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'I was born with a warped sense of humour and when I was carried home from being born it was Coronation Day and so I was called Victoria but you are not supposed to know who wrote this anyway it is about time I unleashed my pent-up emotions in a bitter comment on the state of our society but it's not quite me so I think I shall write a heart-warming story with laughter beh 'I was born with a warped sense of humour and when I was carried home from being born it was Coronation Day and so I was called Victoria but you are not supposed to know who wrote this anyway it is about time I unleashed my pent-up emotions in a bitter comment on the state of our society but it's not quite me so I think I shall write a heart-warming story with laughter behind the tears and tears behind the laughter which means hysterics to you Philistines...' From 'Pardon?' by Vicky Wood, Aged 14. Bury Grammar School (Girls) Magazine, 1967 In her passport Victoria Wood listed her occupation as 'entertainer' - and in stand-up and sketches, songs and sitcom, musicals and dramas, she became the greatest entertainer of the age. Those things that might have held her back - her lonely childhood, her crippling shyness and above all the disadvantage of being a woman in a male-run industry - she turned to her advantage to make extraordinary comedy about ordinary people living ordinary lives in ordinary bodies. She wasn't fond of the term, but Victoria Wood truly was a national treasure - and her loss is still keenly felt. Victoria had plenty of stories still to tell when she died in 2016, and one of those was her own autobiography. 'I will do it one day,' she told the author and journalist Jasper Rees. 'It would be about my childhood, about my first few years in show business, which were really interesting and would make a really nice story.' That sadly never came to pass, so Victoria's estate has asked Jasper Rees, who interviewed her more than anyone else, to tell her extraordinary story in full. He has been granted complete and exclusive access to Victoria's rich archive of personal and professional material, and has conducted over 200 interviews with her family, friends and colleagues - among them Victoria's children, her sisters, her ex-husband Geoffrey Durham, Julie Walters, Celia Imrie, Dawn French, Anne Reid, Imelda Staunton and many more. What emerges is a portrait of a true pioneer who spoke to her audience like no one before or since. This audiobook features narration from some of the extraordinary voices who worked with Victoria over her career: Susie Blake Richenda Carey Celia Imrie Duncan Preston Anne Reid Daniel Rigby Kate Robbins David Threlfall Julie Walters Jane Wymark With an introduction read by Jasper Rees and two recordings of Victoria Wood's classic Ballad of Barry and Freda.


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'I was born with a warped sense of humour and when I was carried home from being born it was Coronation Day and so I was called Victoria but you are not supposed to know who wrote this anyway it is about time I unleashed my pent-up emotions in a bitter comment on the state of our society but it's not quite me so I think I shall write a heart-warming story with laughter beh 'I was born with a warped sense of humour and when I was carried home from being born it was Coronation Day and so I was called Victoria but you are not supposed to know who wrote this anyway it is about time I unleashed my pent-up emotions in a bitter comment on the state of our society but it's not quite me so I think I shall write a heart-warming story with laughter behind the tears and tears behind the laughter which means hysterics to you Philistines...' From 'Pardon?' by Vicky Wood, Aged 14. Bury Grammar School (Girls) Magazine, 1967 In her passport Victoria Wood listed her occupation as 'entertainer' - and in stand-up and sketches, songs and sitcom, musicals and dramas, she became the greatest entertainer of the age. Those things that might have held her back - her lonely childhood, her crippling shyness and above all the disadvantage of being a woman in a male-run industry - she turned to her advantage to make extraordinary comedy about ordinary people living ordinary lives in ordinary bodies. She wasn't fond of the term, but Victoria Wood truly was a national treasure - and her loss is still keenly felt. Victoria had plenty of stories still to tell when she died in 2016, and one of those was her own autobiography. 'I will do it one day,' she told the author and journalist Jasper Rees. 'It would be about my childhood, about my first few years in show business, which were really interesting and would make a really nice story.' That sadly never came to pass, so Victoria's estate has asked Jasper Rees, who interviewed her more than anyone else, to tell her extraordinary story in full. He has been granted complete and exclusive access to Victoria's rich archive of personal and professional material, and has conducted over 200 interviews with her family, friends and colleagues - among them Victoria's children, her sisters, her ex-husband Geoffrey Durham, Julie Walters, Celia Imrie, Dawn French, Anne Reid, Imelda Staunton and many more. What emerges is a portrait of a true pioneer who spoke to her audience like no one before or since. This audiobook features narration from some of the extraordinary voices who worked with Victoria over her career: Susie Blake Richenda Carey Celia Imrie Duncan Preston Anne Reid Daniel Rigby Kate Robbins David Threlfall Julie Walters Jane Wymark With an introduction read by Jasper Rees and two recordings of Victoria Wood's classic Ballad of Barry and Freda.

30 review for Let's Do It: The Authorised Biography of Victoria Wood

  1. 4 out of 5

    Fiona

    I loved Victoria Wood. Her live performances were especially fantastic and my face ached from laughing. I really am interested in learning more about her all too short life. I’m not getting along with this audiobook though. They have certainly lined up a great cast to read it - Julie Walters, Celia Imrie, Anne Reid and others - but it doesn’t seem right hearing VW’s words coming out of others’ mouths. It just falls flat. I would like to physically read this book so that I can ‘hear’ Victoria Woo I loved Victoria Wood. Her live performances were especially fantastic and my face ached from laughing. I really am interested in learning more about her all too short life. I’m not getting along with this audiobook though. They have certainly lined up a great cast to read it - Julie Walters, Celia Imrie, Anne Reid and others - but it doesn’t seem right hearing VW’s words coming out of others’ mouths. It just falls flat. I would like to physically read this book so that I can ‘hear’ Victoria Wood’s voice. For me, it will be much funnier and much more poignant that way. With thanks to NetGalley and Hachette for a review copy.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Carlin

    I read the hardback edition and it was good to hear Victoria's voice throughout the text. She was a complicated person, a workaholic, driven and could be difficult to work with - unless you conformed to her exacting standards. She could also be warm, loving kind and generous. I loved her even more after reading this book, as it presented her as a real person, rather than some perfect vision. What is very clear is just how talented and prolific a worker she was. Comedian, performer, writer, compos I read the hardback edition and it was good to hear Victoria's voice throughout the text. She was a complicated person, a workaholic, driven and could be difficult to work with - unless you conformed to her exacting standards. She could also be warm, loving kind and generous. I loved her even more after reading this book, as it presented her as a real person, rather than some perfect vision. What is very clear is just how talented and prolific a worker she was. Comedian, performer, writer, composer, director, there didn't seem to be anything she couldn't do. I found the last two chapters difficult to read, knowing the outcome, but also happy knowing that she has left behind a fantastic legacy.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Melanie Lewis

    I so wanted to love this book as I adored Victoria Wood and thought her comedy, writing, acting and singing were superb. Sadly, it just didn't do it for me. At 20 hours and 56 minutes it's ridiculously long. There's far too much name dropping, as if Victoria's celebrity needs reaffirming by how many other celebrities she knew or worked with. She comes across as a curmudgeonly dragon, who was difficult to work with and harder to please. I really wish I hadn't listened to it as my memories held he I so wanted to love this book as I adored Victoria Wood and thought her comedy, writing, acting and singing were superb. Sadly, it just didn't do it for me. At 20 hours and 56 minutes it's ridiculously long. There's far too much name dropping, as if Victoria's celebrity needs reaffirming by how many other celebrities she knew or worked with. She comes across as a curmudgeonly dragon, who was difficult to work with and harder to please. I really wish I hadn't listened to it as my memories held her in a fonder, even if it was erroneous, light. Obviously the narration by a plethora of British acting stars is fabulous but I found myself speeding up the book so I could finish it quicker and get it over and done with. If I wasn't listening in order to provide a review there's no way I would have continued with this book after about 5 hours. It feels unkind, self-indulgent and aggrandising on the behalf of the author. If you thought Victoria Wood was a legend, don't read or listen to this book. Dreadfully upset with the whole thing

  4. 5 out of 5

    Justin Neville

    Quite a few readers seem disappointed that this book isn't entertaining enough - that it's over-detailed, describing all the stages and phases of Victoria's life and career, both failures and successes. And significantly that she's not necessarily presented in the most flattering light, that she could be painfully shy, brusque and an undoubted taskmaster. And that her TV shows were clearly far from as fun to make for all involved as it was to watch them. Well, if you want to be entertained, watch Quite a few readers seem disappointed that this book isn't entertaining enough - that it's over-detailed, describing all the stages and phases of Victoria's life and career, both failures and successes. And significantly that she's not necessarily presented in the most flattering light, that she could be painfully shy, brusque and an undoubted taskmaster. And that her TV shows were clearly far from as fun to make for all involved as it was to watch them. Well, if you want to be entertained, watch one of her many shows - or recall what it was like to see her live. If you want to discover what sort of super-talented though complex and contradictory flesh-and-blood human being was behind her creations, read this book. I found it fascinating. If you want to read an entertaing book that'll leave you in creases, pick up a Bill Bryson.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Bettie

    "I am beyond thrilled that Julie Walters, Celia Imrie, Duncan Preston and Susie Blake, the stars of Victoria Wood As Seen on TV, are among the 10 readers on the audiobook of Let’s Do It, my biography of Victoria Wood." "I am beyond thrilled that Julie Walters, Celia Imrie, Duncan Preston and Susie Blake, the stars of Victoria Wood As Seen on TV, are among the 10 readers on the audiobook of Let’s Do It, my biography of Victoria Wood."

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kirstie

    At last!!! This has taken me weeks and has felt such a hard slog. It’s over 500 pages of small writing and felt hard going with lots of references and names. Very information heavy but so interesting You get a real feel of how determined she was and her strong work ethic. She didn’t suffer fools gladly and had a small circle of friends who she called on professionally and the same personally A fascinating insight to this master of comedy. I enjoyed it but it was a long read!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    I love Victoria Wood so this was always going to be one on my To Be Read pile! I remember seeing Victoria live at the Royal Albert Hall in 1993 (which is mentioned in this book!) and have loved her for many years both before and after this. It was absolutely heart-breaking to hear the news that she had died, and it certainly felt like a little bit of comedy had died with her. This book, written as an authorised biography, documents her life from her early years right up to when she died, using h I love Victoria Wood so this was always going to be one on my To Be Read pile! I remember seeing Victoria live at the Royal Albert Hall in 1993 (which is mentioned in this book!) and have loved her for many years both before and after this. It was absolutely heart-breaking to hear the news that she had died, and it certainly felt like a little bit of comedy had died with her. This book, written as an authorised biography, documents her life from her early years right up to when she died, using her own diaries, notes and recollections which she kept. I alternated between listening to the audio book and reading the actual book, but when I was listening to the audio version I found this highly entertaining with some of the chapters read by her dear friends, who we all know and love! I learnt so much about her as I read. I never knew she spent so much time in Birmingham, just down the road from me. It was great to hear of how she met Julie Walters, penned her first song, got a job on ‘That’s Life’, wrote and starred in Dinner Ladies and received various awards and accolades, amongst many other things which this book shares with the readers. Victoria always came across as quite a private person, but this book lifted the lid on some parts of that private life. It is filled with so much detail, and I found myself wrapped up in her story very quickly! I have watched (and re-watched!) so much of her work, and am able to recite “An Audience with…” word for word and can laugh out loud at Bren, Tony, Stan, Dolly, Jean, Twinkle, Anita, Philippa and Petula in Dinner Ladies no matter how many times I’ve seen it before. I’ve never really got over her death and found myself quite sad at the end of the book remembering the true entertainer and comedic genius who could never be replaced. The book is wonderfully written and is filled with lots of memories, lots of name dropping and, of course, lots of laughs, and is a very worthy tribute to someone who is very much missed. Barry and Freda would have been so proud!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Fabulous Book Fiend

    I was a little unsure about this book just because I was so upset when Victoria Wood died and I still don't feel like I've moved past it. But I loved her work so much how could I not read this book? It begins and ends with her most famous song, Let's Do It, just like the title of the book and so for once I listened on regular speed so I could listen and enjoy her words and music. This is a long book, I'm normally a little put off by books this long but I will tell you I listened on audiobook and I was a little unsure about this book just because I was so upset when Victoria Wood died and I still don't feel like I've moved past it. But I loved her work so much how could I not read this book? It begins and ends with her most famous song, Let's Do It, just like the title of the book and so for once I listened on regular speed so I could listen and enjoy her words and music. This is a long book, I'm normally a little put off by books this long but I will tell you I listened on audiobook and it absolutely flew by. I listened to all 20 hours over about 3 days during my drives to work, in the gym and whilst doing things around the house. I love the fact that this audiobook is narrated by so many different actors and comedians. Celia Imrie, Julie Walters and Duncan Preston to name just a few. I love the fact that these people all had something personal to add to their section of narration and could vouch for the events they were talking about because they were there. This book has a typical chronological structure for a biography and so we start with Victoria's childhood and the start of her career in writing and performing and then carry on through until the end. There are plenty of personal stories from people and memories along the way but I loved learning about her early work and the struggles she had as a child and then as a teen trying to fit into education. I feel like knowing all of these things about her past made her even more relatable. One of the things I loved about Victoria Wood was her unabashed exploration of sex, particularly within a marriage from a female point of view and her interest in this and its inclusion in almost all of her material is explored in the book. I can't help but feel that her attitude towards female sexuality was before its time and that fact that she talks and sings about it so openly in her ketches, stand up and songs was always something I admired. I was blown away by her attention to detail in everything she did, although I do feel like working with her would have been its own kind of challenge and not something I'm sure I could have handled but I definitely came away from this book with a greater depth of respect and admiration for this wonderful performer. When we got the the end of the book, even though I knew it was coming, I did cry, quite a bit and so just be ready for that if you are a fan of her like I am. I really recommend this book even though it left me in tears and took up most of my days whilst I was reading it!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lucy Burnham

    This book manages to make a painfully dull read of a fascinating female icon of British comedy. Extremely long and for the most part a fairly tedious catalogue of every single detail of Victoria Wood’s career resulting in 500 pages of ‘and then’. Despite the author seemingly being a fan of hers, it also manages to leave an impression that she was a unpleasant control freak, at least professionally. Really disappointing.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jane Miller

    I’ve been a fan of Victoria Wood since I was 16 years old. As a playwright, she was one of my earliest inspirations to write. I loved the rhythms and quirky observations in her writing. Her company of actors in Julie Walters, Celia Imrie, Duncan Preston and many other wonderful performers brilliantly conveyed the absurdity, hilarity, poignancy and tragedy of her insights into what makes the everyday and the ordinary unique. I wish I hadn’t read this book. It’s respectful, reverential, well resea I’ve been a fan of Victoria Wood since I was 16 years old. As a playwright, she was one of my earliest inspirations to write. I loved the rhythms and quirky observations in her writing. Her company of actors in Julie Walters, Celia Imrie, Duncan Preston and many other wonderful performers brilliantly conveyed the absurdity, hilarity, poignancy and tragedy of her insights into what makes the everyday and the ordinary unique. I wish I hadn’t read this book. It’s respectful, reverential, well researched and detailed and it reveals a Victoria Wood that was a complex genius, a devoted mother but someone who appears to have experienced very little joy or happiness. Clearly the events described in the book are accurate as it is authorised and sources include family, friends, collaborators and Wood herself. The issue is the intense detail and tone of the writing emphasises the prickly, critical and dissatisfied aspects of her perfectionist nature without any balance. I always understood that Victoria Wood’s stage persona was just that and one only had to see her on talk shows to discern that she didn’t enjoy revealing herself. However, while this biography hints at periods of happiness (motherhood, As Seen on TV) it never does so with the depth that it describes incidents such her requesting to change bedrooms or criticising the cake at a local cafe when staying with Dawn French. We get it, she was complicated and not the jolly persona we knew from her work but there are times when this book seems determined to portray her as difficult by focusing on the minutiae of some very run of the mill events. It is surprising that someone who was as introverted and private as portrayed in this book, would have wanted their life revealed in this way. There is a very specific lens on Wood’s life in this biography and while it is one that clearly respects her genius, it doesn’t provide a lot to enjoy or warm to.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    I found reading this uplifting, funny and also very sad. Her miserable childhood undoubtedly laid the foundations for her determination, stubbornness, competitiveness and brilliantly observed people and situations. One of my all time favourites as a stand up comic and actress, her body of work was vast. This biography enabled us to get to know and understand her very complex character, both loved and feared by those who knew her well. They needed to live up to her expectations, but were happy to I found reading this uplifting, funny and also very sad. Her miserable childhood undoubtedly laid the foundations for her determination, stubbornness, competitiveness and brilliantly observed people and situations. One of my all time favourites as a stand up comic and actress, her body of work was vast. This biography enabled us to get to know and understand her very complex character, both loved and feared by those who knew her well. They needed to live up to her expectations, but were happy to try because they held her in the highest esteem. I thought this book was terrific and gave a real insight into this much loved , but very private person. I shall now hunt out again some of her great performances which thank goodness are recorded and watch them with relish.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Francesca Pashby

    I laughed. I cried. I went on YouTube a lot. My last book of 2020, and I'm so glad I saved it until Christmas. So many memories came flooding back, so many great lines, so much laughter. Victoria was a legend (understated, but undeniable), and for me Jasper Rees has captured that. I have teenaged children who know that when I say "Red cabbage, how much?" they must answer "Red cabbage, no idea". And so the legacy continues ... it is, and always will be "on the trolley". I laughed. I cried. I went on YouTube a lot. My last book of 2020, and I'm so glad I saved it until Christmas. So many memories came flooding back, so many great lines, so much laughter. Victoria was a legend (understated, but undeniable), and for me Jasper Rees has captured that. I have teenaged children who know that when I say "Red cabbage, how much?" they must answer "Red cabbage, no idea". And so the legacy continues ... it is, and always will be "on the trolley".

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    3.5 stars. I was not living in the UK during Victoria Wood's career but, nevertheless, I soon heard about her and appreciated the few video clips I managed to watch. I especially appreciated her film "Housewife, 49" which stuck in my memory. Although I enjoyed listening to this extremely comprehensive biography, I was baffled by the hundreds of names of people who crossed her path, except a very few (Julie Walters, Anne Reid, Jim Broadbent, Imelda Staunton, Celia Imrie, Alan Rickman etc). Whilst 3.5 stars. I was not living in the UK during Victoria Wood's career but, nevertheless, I soon heard about her and appreciated the few video clips I managed to watch. I especially appreciated her film "Housewife, 49" which stuck in my memory. Although I enjoyed listening to this extremely comprehensive biography, I was baffled by the hundreds of names of people who crossed her path, except a very few (Julie Walters, Anne Reid, Jim Broadbent, Imelda Staunton, Celia Imrie, Alan Rickman etc). Whilst I can appreciate this biography, I think I can only recommend it to people who live in the UK.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    I found the book interesting but maybe too detailed to the point where I kept losing interest. I am glad I have read it and I discovered things about Victoria Wood that I hadn’t previously known. An amazing talent, despite this biography.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mike Jennings

    A good peek into her life and full of interest if you like Victoria Wood's comedy / acting / writing. Obviously if you don't you wouldn't be reading it, so that was a pointless opening line. Not as satisfying as it would have been had it been an autobiography, but she didn't get around to doing her own so this is the best fans can hope for. Personally I got much more from her Desert Island Discs session with Kirsty Young - probably because telling it in your own voice carries much more conviction A good peek into her life and full of interest if you like Victoria Wood's comedy / acting / writing. Obviously if you don't you wouldn't be reading it, so that was a pointless opening line. Not as satisfying as it would have been had it been an autobiography, but she didn't get around to doing her own so this is the best fans can hope for. Personally I got much more from her Desert Island Discs session with Kirsty Young - probably because telling it in your own voice carries much more conviction, but it was a good read nontheless. My error here was to expect Victoria Wood to be the character she was on stage and of course she wasn't - no-one is. For that reason I moved from 'she's marvellous' to 'oh it's disappointing that she was like that' to 'no ... that's just her being human' and finally to 'she was marvellously ordinary, just with a great big dollop of talent'. She might have agreed with that last one, so I'll leave it at that.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Shelly

    Warning: Spontaneous Laughing and crying. I listen to this on audiobook and it was a delight to hear all the voices of her friends narrate it. This is biography/ autobiography of treasured comedian Victoria Wood. Including letters, emails and Diary entries from Victoria, and stories added by friends and family. It’s like reading a tribute to her, and peering through the curtains at her brain. I really enjoyed this lovely books. After listening to 20 of her life read by Daniel Rigby, Duncan Preston, A Warning: Spontaneous Laughing and crying. I listen to this on audiobook and it was a delight to hear all the voices of her friends narrate it. This is biography/ autobiography of treasured comedian Victoria Wood. Including letters, emails and Diary entries from Victoria, and stories added by friends and family. It’s like reading a tribute to her, and peering through the curtains at her brain. I really enjoyed this lovely books. After listening to 20 of her life read by Daniel Rigby, Duncan Preston, Anne Reid, Celia Imary, Julie Walters, Jasper Rees and many more. You come to end of the audio to find Victoria herself. A recording of Just Do It, preformed live at a show mentioned in a previous chapter. The sudden discovery of her voice my provoke tears. This wonderful human who you have just read about, is suddenly in your ears, and it is a joy. Read with tissues.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    Review Taken from The Pewter Wolf, as part of NetGalley November 2020. ***Audiobook given by UK publisher, Trapeze, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review/reaction*** My first NetGalley November write-up and it’s something a little left-field for me - a biography -, but when I saw this on NetGalley a fortnight or so ago, I knew I had to request from the publisher and hope that they would be kind and allow me to listen to it for review. Once I was approved (thank you UK publisher of Trapez Review Taken from The Pewter Wolf, as part of NetGalley November 2020. ***Audiobook given by UK publisher, Trapeze, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review/reaction*** My first NetGalley November write-up and it’s something a little left-field for me - a biography -, but when I saw this on NetGalley a fortnight or so ago, I knew I had to request from the publisher and hope that they would be kind and allow me to listen to it for review. Once I was approved (thank you UK publisher of Trapeze), I started almost immediately! There is a slight problem with doing reviews or write-ups about biographies and autobiographies, and that is how to rate them. When you rate a book, you got with the writing and the story. But with a biography or an autobiography, people sometimes look at how you rate it or review it and say you’re attacking the subject of the autobiography or biography, and that’s not the case. Most people, I found, only read a biography or autobiography if they know already that they are going to like the subject and it’s only if something really big happens that changes the person’s mind. So, going into this biography of the late great comedian of Victoria Wood, I knew I was going to like it. I mean, I grew up watching dinnerladies and watching repeats of As Seen on TV, Acorn Antiques and Housewife, 49. I remember dragging my mum to see Acorn Antiques: The Musical up in London so I knew, going into this, that I was going to find this fascinating and insightful The thing I found really interesting about Victoria’s life while listening to this audiobook was how, at times, Victoria came across as egocentric (actors who work with her on her shows say that you would have to be word perfect with her scripts. You couldn’t say “can’t” if the script says “can not”). Because of this, she comes across as hard to work with and harder to please, though we are told multiply times, though she worked incredibly hard, she was incredibly shy and vulnerable and that could be due to how she grew up. The audiobook reading was a joy as you had several narrators, each involved in Victoria’s work: Anne Reid, Celia Imrie, Daniel Rigby, David Threlfall, Duncan Preston, Jane Wymark, Julie Walters, Kate Robbins, Richenda Carey, Susie Blake and the author, Jasper Rees (who read the opening and closing chapter). I found the penultimate chapter, read by Anne Reid, very moving and I praise her for this as I sense it must have been a hard chapter to read. Plus, having these people read each chapter gave a much more personal feel. It’s as if you were with friends and they each were telling a story. “Do you remember the time when…” I do understand some of you guys complains over the length. Believe me, even I was surprised when I was first approved and started listening, expecting it to be around 10 or 12 hours and seeing it was nearly 21. And I do understand of you guys saying “I wish the name-dropping would be less and we saw more of Victoria. Her work and her personal life” and, up to a point, I do agree with you. I do wish some aspects of the book was focused on less and others more, but I think that’s because I am a bit of a nosy so&so, but I understand why some aspects of her life were looked over less than others as Victoria’s children, former husband and family members are still alive and we need to respect their privacy. I liked listening to this and found it really interesting and engrossing, but I get some fans of Victoria Wood might find this tarnish their memory of Victoria and her works so if you are a fan of her work, I would advise you to think long and hard before going in as, while her works are hilarious, we have to remember she was human and did have flaws.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

    (Forewarning: this is going to be a very rambling review.) It wouldn't be an overstatement to say that Victoria Wood has been ( still is & forever will be) one of my favourite comedian/comidiennes & writers, ever since I saw the ITV broadcast of her 'Live' 1997 tour (which my parents probably shouldn't have let me watch, to be honest, but as a 7 year-old, most of it just sounded funny & was performed in a funny way, with most if not all of the subtext going over my head, so hey ho! XD). From ther (Forewarning: this is going to be a very rambling review.) It wouldn't be an overstatement to say that Victoria Wood has been ( still is & forever will be) one of my favourite comedian/comidiennes & writers, ever since I saw the ITV broadcast of her 'Live' 1997 tour (which my parents probably shouldn't have let me watch, to be honest, but as a 7 year-old, most of it just sounded funny & was performed in a funny way, with most if not all of the subtext going over my head, so hey ho! XD). From there I devoured her other stand up shows that we had recorded (1988's 'An Audience with...' & 1991's 'Sold Out', adding 'Live at the Albert Hall' in 2002) watching them multiple times, (I must shamefully admit that I didn't watch 'dinnerladies' when it first came out in 1998 as I deemed it 'boring' because it wasn't stand up - 8 year old me was an idiot), discovering more of her work as I got older ('As Seen on TV' is one of my favourite tv shows ever, not just sketch shows, and has gotten me through quite a few late night anxiety episodes), and was always excited when a new project of hers was announced. So when I saw that this biography was coming out, I was VERY excited! If, like me, you're already a fan, then there won't be any earth-shattering revelations. Because it's not that kind of book. It's not a tell-all, gossipy rakeover but a detailed, considered and meticulous (not only did the author interview numerous friends and family members but was also granted access to Victoria Wood's vast personal archive of scripts, interviews, notes, audio diaries and personal correspondence - the list of sources for each chapter and index are epic) portrait of a comedy genius as a relatable and complex person, (stick on*) warts and all. A shy show-off who wanted fame and attention, who wanted to make people laugh but who also didn't like socialising; someone who was confident in her individuality and of her talent, yet also lacked confidence in herself; a brilliant performer who, offstage, was incredibly private; warm, funny, down-to-earth and generous but also ruthlessly professional, unafraid to be bossy when it came to her work and getting it right when the writing was often agonised over (she saw her sentences as constructed like music and wouldn't tolerate any bum notes); a voracious reader; brilliant writer; daughter, sister, wife, mother and friend. 'Let's Do it' is brilliantly written: funny (there are plenty of quotes from both Victoria herself, her work and from her family and friends), fascinating and poignant (the last two chapters are particularly hard-going). If you're already a fan you are going to greatly enjoy this. If you're not familiar with her work (first of all, go remedy that, NOW!) but have any interest in British comedy and/or theatre, pick this up! (* reference to 'Victoria Wood: From Soup to Nuts' orginally broadcast on BBC Radio4 ;D)

  19. 4 out of 5

    Gareth

    A rich, thorough, ultimately quite beautiful account of the life and career of Victoria Wood, Let’s Do It really captures the personality of someone who longed for recognition but hated to talk about her private life. The comic writer and performer’s shyness was no doubt instilled by an indifferent family (all reading or busying themselves privately, then meeting for dinner), and her many projects and collaborations were handled with unflinching perfectionism - she never allowed for improvisation A rich, thorough, ultimately quite beautiful account of the life and career of Victoria Wood, Let’s Do It really captures the personality of someone who longed for recognition but hated to talk about her private life. The comic writer and performer’s shyness was no doubt instilled by an indifferent family (all reading or busying themselves privately, then meeting for dinner), and her many projects and collaborations were handled with unflinching perfectionism - she never allowed for improvisation or deviation from work she had written, perhaps in part because she lived so much in her own head growing up. That prickliness keeps this from feeling too much like a puff piece, but it speaks volumes that the stars who worked with her, and encountered this brusque bluntness, would come back for more. (Relationships with potential broadcasters and critics blew more hot and cold throughout her career, which seems crazy in hindsight.) Many friendships shine through here, particularly with Julie Walters, Piers Wenger and Daniel Rigby. The enduring warmth of her ex-husband Geoffrey is also apparent. The book is diplomatic about the reasons for their break up, but we hear enough about her workaholism to suspect how it went. There’s so much information (over 70 pages of sources) that it becomes quite a dense read, but to condense the work any further wouldn’t really be in her spirit. The person and her work are celebrated with the appropriate levels of workaholism, such that her loss feels all the more tragic and sudden when it all stops.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Olly Mogs

    Got this book for Christmas, and truly it was a mighty tome. But then I don't know how you could sum up the life of Victoria Wood in anything less than "war and peace". It's clear a lot of work went into the research and sources, but there is a lack of warmth in this book. Maybe it's because she didn't write it (she was asked to, but never quite got round to it). Overwhelmingly I felt sad. I felt sad about her childhood. I felt sad about how she saw herself, how she drove herself to achieve but c Got this book for Christmas, and truly it was a mighty tome. But then I don't know how you could sum up the life of Victoria Wood in anything less than "war and peace". It's clear a lot of work went into the research and sources, but there is a lack of warmth in this book. Maybe it's because she didn't write it (she was asked to, but never quite got round to it). Overwhelmingly I felt sad. I felt sad about her childhood. I felt sad about how she saw herself, how she drove herself to achieve but couldn't seem to enjoy her successes, convinced she could have done better. I felt sad that there was more to come. I felt sad that towards the end of her life she was still putting people first, not wanting to upset people, disrupt people, put any pressure on anyone because she was ill. There were some fascinating details that were randomly dropped in that I would have liked to have known more about - her charity work for her friends whose children had fallen ill. There was definitely an emotional connection missing - plenty of what was said, but not a lot of what was felt. But it is a thorough record of her life and career. I probably could have done with a "list of players" in the index as by the last chapter she knew so many people and had some many professional and personal acquaintances I felt like I needed to get a notebook out to get it straight in my head. But an enjoyable book. Probably will have to go over it again (with a notebook).

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jack Bates

    Exhaustive and detailed biography with loads of quotes from Wood's letters, faxes and scripts. It's fascinating to see someone's work ethic, I always think, and hers was pretty impressive. Also interesting to read about her childhood, which reminded me a bit of Diana Wynne Jones, (fairly) benign neglect (certainly more benign than DWJ's in fact, although I don't think it felt terribly benign). Reading biogs of famous people does make you wonder if it's possible to be intensely driven if you just Exhaustive and detailed biography with loads of quotes from Wood's letters, faxes and scripts. It's fascinating to see someone's work ethic, I always think, and hers was pretty impressive. Also interesting to read about her childhood, which reminded me a bit of Diana Wynne Jones, (fairly) benign neglect (certainly more benign than DWJ's in fact, although I don't think it felt terribly benign). Reading biogs of famous people does make you wonder if it's possible to be intensely driven if you just had a perfectly nice childhood with reasonably parents. (There's also that whole thing about what makes a comedian, and it does seem quite often to be trauma.) The bit where it says VW and her sister filled eight skips with junk after their mum died made me feel quite unwell, since a friend and I filled three when her godmother died and it took two weeks and we were reduced to exhausted hysteria. Anyway, it's fun to read about the development of various songs and sketches that have been part of my life for thirty-plus years, although I think biogs of people who are properly part of your life can feel quite sad. After all we know how it ends and I'm still very sad she's dead.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Judy Ford

    I’m often disappointed by the biographies of celebrities, but this one was in the Kindle sale at 99p and the quotation at the beginning of the “look inside” preview was sufficiently amusing to seduce me into buying it. It’s a biography based on various written material (much of it by Victoria herself) and the reminiscences of her many friends and colleagues. It starts very well and I really enjoyed the first couple of hundred pages (there are nearly 600 in the printed edition). But then it began I’m often disappointed by the biographies of celebrities, but this one was in the Kindle sale at 99p and the quotation at the beginning of the “look inside” preview was sufficiently amusing to seduce me into buying it. It’s a biography based on various written material (much of it by Victoria herself) and the reminiscences of her many friends and colleagues. It starts very well and I really enjoyed the first couple of hundred pages (there are nearly 600 in the printed edition). But then it began to get rather repetitive, as we were treated to the intricate details of production after production. It became increasingly ironic that, time and again the reader is told about Victoria’s ruthlessness in editing her writing by cutting out anything that she decides is unnecessary or not of quite a high enough standard. Would that the editors of this biography had taken the same attitude! By around 60% through, it was becoming a chore, but I persevered and was rewarded with some quite interesting insight into her final illness. However, I have to admit that it was a relief to discover that the last 20% of the book is taken up with a long list of references to all the documents used in compiling it, a stack of acknowledgements and finally (and it’s worth flicking past the dross to get to them) a large collection of photographs. As with almost all biographies, the most interesting part was Victoria’s childhood, which was quite different form my own (although of an almost identical era) and yet had enough things in common to be able to identify with her in many ways. It was worth 99p and I’m glad I read it, but such a pity that it overstayed its welcome.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Natalie "Curling up with a Coffee and a Kindle" Rampling

    This audiobook was mixed for me. The start was interesting, about how she became involved in music which became such a huge part of her comedy act. (Barry and Freida is one if my favourite comedic songs ever) but this audiobook was way too long and some content was unnecessary and slow. I enjoyed the approach of using different actors to read each chapter, that made it much more personal.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mary Grand

    Really interesting biography. Victoria Wood was always one of my favorite comediennes. I found it a bit sad in parts and it certainly was no easy ride for her. She was a complicated person and this book gives a real insight into her. A good read

  25. 4 out of 5

    Eve Paterson

    Phenomenal. What a woman. Unbelievable talent with unparalleled hard work and dedication to her craft. An astounding legacy for comedy and for women everywhere.

  26. 5 out of 5

    HattieB

    This book left me a blubbering puddle. A must read for any fans of this amazing comedienne.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Iain Hepburn

    Excellent, meticulous, surprisingly unflinching portrait of the great Victoria Wood, and the intense focus she brought to her career and her life.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jilly

    I listened to this as an audio book and enjoyed listening to friends of Victoria Wood and her fellow entertainers reading each chapter. This is a wonderful appreciation of a complex and multi-talented performer. It is a very detailed and fascinating account of her life, which covers her upbringing, her rise to fame and also details of her personal life, including her battle with cancer. What shines through to me is how highly regarded and respected she was. It was a tad too long for me, but I ve I listened to this as an audio book and enjoyed listening to friends of Victoria Wood and her fellow entertainers reading each chapter. This is a wonderful appreciation of a complex and multi-talented performer. It is a very detailed and fascinating account of her life, which covers her upbringing, her rise to fame and also details of her personal life, including her battle with cancer. What shines through to me is how highly regarded and respected she was. It was a tad too long for me, but I very much enjoyed it. Thank you to Jasper Rees, Net Galley and Hachette Audio UK for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa

    I love Victoria Wood, but this book was slightly hard for me to read. There were definitely bits where I laughed, but more of the time I found it hard to keep up with all the names that were dropped in.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sally

    Victoria Wood was/is one of my favourite comedians - I thought of her as a warm and funny lady and like the rest of the country, probably, i felt I knew her. I did not and do not. Listening to this on audiobook was brilliant- I could listen to the snippets of her songs and sketches and remind myself of her amazing talent. Most importantly I heard the voices of her friends and fellow comedians telling the story of her life, with voices of respect, affection and warmth that added a depth of intima Victoria Wood was/is one of my favourite comedians - I thought of her as a warm and funny lady and like the rest of the country, probably, i felt I knew her. I did not and do not. Listening to this on audiobook was brilliant- I could listen to the snippets of her songs and sketches and remind myself of her amazing talent. Most importantly I heard the voices of her friends and fellow comedians telling the story of her life, with voices of respect, affection and warmth that added a depth of intimacy. This is a long and comprehensive account and I feel that listening rather than reading it is less dry. The voices are those of beloved comedians and they breathe life into the telling. These are wrapped around with the introduction and conclusion appositely read by the author. The biography is impressive in its coverage - I was fascinated by the evolution of ideas for sketches and shows and by the many staged, up and down journey to stardom. But most of all I loved the account of Victoria as a person - a little girl neglected by her parents,lonely and awkward. So much of her early experience has found its way into her comedy - her battle with weight, social awkwardness, dysfunctional family. It’s a very candid account particularly when discussing her mental health, her marriage and her battle with cancer. I was fascinated and entertained, I laughed and I cried. What a talent, what a life. There is such a sense of the person behind the comedy. As Victoria would say - v.v. Good! With thanks to Netgalley and Trapeze audiobooks for a digital copy of this wonderful biography.

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