As Seen On TV was a sketch show written by and starring much missed comedienne Victoria Wood and introducing a host of favourite characters, particularly in the spoof soap Acorn Antiques.
When was it on?
There were two series, each of six episodes, in 1985 and 1986 plus a 1987 Christmas special which offered a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Acorn Antiques.
Who were the star turns?
Victoria Wood herself, plus her regular little repertory company of Julie Walters, Celia Imrie, Duncan Preston and Susie Blake. Patricia Routledge also guested.
The storylines creaked as much as the set while the wobbly camerawork wasn’t exactly of the NYPD Blue school. And when they weren’t standing in each other’s way or missing their cues, the actors were so wooden they could have been appearing in a National Forestry Commission training film. The whole thing was a brilliant send-up of naff soaps.
Were there any other regular characters in the series?
Didsbury’s blunt-speaking Kitty, played by Patricia Routledge; a TV continuity announcer with a condescending attitude towards viewers in the north, played by Susie Blake; and bitchy daytime TV hosts Margery and Joan, played by Julie Walters and Victoria Wood.
How did it come about?
After winning on New Faces, Victoria Wood was signed up by That’s Life. She then teamed up with friend Julie Walters whom she had first met while at Manchester Polytechnic at the age of 17.
Together they appeared in sketch series Wood and Walters and plays like Talent and Nearly A Happy Ending. Three years later, the pair returned to the BBC for Victoria Wood — As Seen On TV.
Didn’t Julie Walters use to be a nurse?
Spot on. She trained as a nurse at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital. She remembered: ‘If you were on a nice happy ward it was lovely, eating the patients’ grapes all day. There was one thing that turned me right off though — sluicing the patients’ bedpans.’
Who watched it?
Sufficient TV critics to ensure that the series won a BAFTA Award for Best Comedy.
In 1992, highlights were broadcast by Radio 4 under the title Victoria Wood — As Heard On TV.
Any distant cousins?
Victoria Wood always denied that Acorn Antiques was based on Crossroads, but we know better. Because if Mrs. Overall wasn’t a reincarnation of diminutive Motel cleaner and line-fluffer Amy Turtle, we’ll eat our collective hats — bobbles and all.