- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 20, 2016

LONDON (AP) — Victoria Wood, a British comedian whose sketch shows and sitcoms blended playfulness and sharp social observation, has died. She was 62.

Wood died Wednesday at her London home “after a short but brave battle with cancer,” said her publicist, Neil Reading.

Wood got her break in 1974 winning the TV talent contest “New Faces.” As a woman from northwest of England she was an outsider in the world of British comedy, but became a well-known standup, and got her own TV show in the 1980s with “Victoria Wood as Seen on TV.”

It featured the spoof soap opera “Acorn Antiques,” which many consider a classic.

Wood also created and starred in the late-1990s sitcom “Dinnerladies,” set in a factory canteen. It featured an exceptional, mostly female, cast including Julie Walters, Celia Imrie and Maxine Peake.

Many female entertainers hailed Wood as an inspiration.

Writer Caitlin Moran tweeted: “Seeing Victoria Wood on TV — working class, bookish, silly, clever, doing stand-up, singing, acting — made me think ‘Girls can do this.’”

“Absolutely Fabulous” creator Jennifer Saunders said “she was truly an inspiration and had so much left to give and we won’t see it. “

At the same time, her wit and warmth gave her an incredibly broad appeal. Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted that Wood was “a national treasure loved by millions.”

Wood won four British Academy television awards, including acting and writing prizes for the 2006 drama “Housewife, 49.” In 2008, she was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II.

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