Victoria Wood At Colston Hall Hosting Slapstick Festival Gala   3Victoria Wood performing at the Silent Comedy Gala in January 2013, at Colston Hall. She saved the event when she stepped in last minute.

Chris Daniels, Director of Slapstick Festival, has paid tribute to Victoria Wood – who saved an event when she stepped in last minute to replace a headline act.

Chris was surprised and delighted when the comedian offered her time for free at short notice. Despite her amazing talent, Chris reported that “she was a comedy legend, but really nice, down-to-earth and humble. She would be incredibly nervous before she had to get on stage, but, as soon as she started, she had the audience in the palm of her hand.”

Victoria Wood, who died from cancer aged just 62 on April 20, hosted the Slapstick Gala in January 2013. She took over as The Gala’s master of ceremonies after Dara O’Briain had to pull out because of an unexpected clash with filming commitments in Africa for Comic Relief.

Victoria Wood performing her Step Aerobics sketch.

Graeme Garden, OBE, is a member of The Goodies and co-founder of Stand-Up for Slapstick. He was also a friend of Victoria Wood and worked with her on BBC Radio 4’s I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue. Back in 2013, he reached out to her just weeks before the event and she kindly agreed in an email, saying ‘Oh, go on then!’ Regardless of not having done stand up for years, the short notice and the travel to Bristol, she single-handedly saved the event.

She introduced the Gala of three films taken from the silent era, with stand-up comedy in between.

Chris said Victoria stayed to watch the other acts perform and caught up with her friends and fellow comedians, Graeme and Barry Cryer. He said, “she wrote afterwards to say she had a great time and said it was a ‘jolly festival’. We talked about future plans for the festival, such as talking about her top comedy moments. She just said, ‘who’d be interested in what I’d have to say?’ She really was very modest.”

Victoria Wood At Colston Hall Hosting Slapstick Festival Gala   5Chris Daniels, chairman of the Slapstick Festival with Victoria Wood

She returned in 2015 for a celebration of Gloria Swanson, an actress and producer best known for her role as Norma Desmond, a reclusive silent film star in the critically acclaimed 1950 film Sunset Boulevard.

“Only last year she said she loved Julie Walters and would love to work with her again – maybe at the festival celebrating their work together. We had hoped it would take place next January, but sadly it will never be. She was an amazing talent and true professional. She will be greatly missed and my thoughts go out to her friends and family.”

“I feel honoured to have met her. We will always be grateful for that time she came to save the day.”

We are planning to host a show in Victoria Wood’s memory at the Slapstick Festival, which runs from January 19 to 22. The fundraiser, Stand Up For Slapstick, will take place on Sunday, June 12.