Victoria Wood secretly fought cancer four years before her eventual death from the disease, a new biography reveals.
Let’s Do It, published yesterday, tells how in December 2012 the comic had to quit directing BBC’s Loving Miss Hatto for a year of radiotherapy, chemotherapy and ops on a malignant lymph node.
After the diagnosis of cancer in her “tummy area” she was determined no one would know apart from a few close friends and family.
The comic, who finally lost her cancer battle in 2016, even delayed one procedure to compere the London Jazz Festival.
She also felt well enough to record a voiceover for ITV series The Talent Show Story.
Victoria, then 58, did miss a couple of awards shows but took daughter Grace to the Comedy Awards that year, saying: “I don’t want rumours spreading that I’m at death’s door.”
Over Christmas she told a few more friends. One assumed she was being drawn aside to be informed Victoria, who divorced in 2002, had a new beau.
The comic replied: “I’ve got something… but it’s not a man.” She complained to another friend that the treatment was “effing boring”.
Her son Henry, now 28, was living at home with her in Highgate, north London. He remembers: “It didn’t feel that ominous. It was like ‘uh-oh, it’s cancer’.
“‘It looks like it’s going to be OK but we just have to get through it’.”
However daughter Grace, now 32, sensed the news had hit her mother very hard. She says: “She shared what she had to but, given the choice, I think she’d have shared none of it.”
After being forced to take a back seat on Loving Miss Hatto, Victoria chose to attend hospital appointments alone, telling TV writer Peter Bowker: “I can’t be bothered to put a good face on it and be jolly.”
With just a week of radiotherapy left, she had sudden pain and swelling in her leg, and was rushed to hospital with a blood clot which required another operation.
She described her convalescence in hospital as “a hellish three weeks”.
But the next year she bounced back to front a documentary about tea filmed in exotic locations.
She told Bowker: “I feel I missed the last 12 months with so many hospital palavers.
“Going to China and India meant getting out of the house.”
By the time she made it to Edinburgh in the summer of 2013, Victoria was feeling back to herself. “It’s a lot more fancy than when I last played
here,” she told her sister Rosalind in an email. “But same old crap shows.”
*Let’s Do It, by Jasper Rees, Trapeze, £20.
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