Victoria Wood has been named a Legend Of Comedy in the Leicester Comedy Festival's 2017 awards.
Wood was nominated alongside Ade Edmondson, Billy Connolly, Dawn French, Jack Dee for this year's title, with a public vote picking the winner. Comedians who have been selected for the award in previous years include Barry Cryer, Rik Mayall, Ken Dodd and Sir Norman Wisdom.
Victoria's sister Rosalind Watson, who attended the ceremony to accept the award, said: "I am over the moon and honoured to be able to accept this award on behalf of my sister Victoria Wood. It would have meant a lot to her to have been voted a 'legend' especially by a people's vote. It's great that this ceremony is taking place here in Leicester, because we are just around the corner from the old Phoenix Theatre which is where Vic performed very early in her career. It's now called the Sue Townsend Theatre, but it's where Vic got a lucky break in 1976 as a relief pianist in Gunslinger, a musical set in the Wild West, starring her husband-to-be Geoffrey Durham and Alan Rickman.
"She was a legend and we're so fortunate to have her fantastic body of work. And so much of it is available on the internet. It's as if her work has had a new lease of life on Twitter and YouTube. We can see Victoria's sketches and songs just by clicking in a screen. As we know she went way too soon but she has left a legacy that should make the world continue laughing for years to come."
Festival director Geoff Rowe comments: "I am thrilled that Victoria Wood, one of the most significant British comedians of the past half century, was recognised for her outstanding contribution to comedy tonight. She is a true legend of comedy, whose work will continue to inspire and entertain for years to come. Our annual awards also acknowledge the acts, venues, promoters and other organisations whose hard work has helped make this year the most successful of the festival's 24 year history."
The Leicester Comedy Festival Awards 2017 also honoured the best shows and venues from the February-based event. The winners were announced at The Registry venue in the city, via a ceremony hosted by Janice Connolly in character as Mrs Barbara Nice.
Best Musical/Improv Show: The Elvis Dead
(Other nominees: Russell Hicks: From the Heart; Scriptless in Seattle; The Harry & Chris Show)
Best Kids Show: Sooty & Co
(Other nominees: Jarred Christmas and The Hobbit; Mini Fridge - Kid's Court)
Best Venue (under 200 capacity): The Black Horse
(Other nominees: Brewdog; Firebug; The Cookie; The Exchange)
Best Venue (over 200 capacity): The Little Theatre
(Other nominees: Curve; De Montfort Hall; The Cookie @02 Academy; The Y)
Liberty Award: Naked Comedy
(Other nominees: Make 'Em Laugh Exhibition/George Williams; Roar With Laughter Fringe; The Thermos Museum; @deadmonarchs exhibition)
Best Promoter: Captain Coliño's Comedy Playhouse
(Other nominees: Daniel Nicholas & Attenborough Arts; Grays; Jokes on Us; The Cookie)
Contribution to Leicester Comedy Festival 2017: Crosscut Media
(Other nominees: Demon FM; LCB Depot; Takeover Radio)
Community Award: Focus Charity
(Other nominees: Centre for Integrated Living; Elaine Pantling; Square Mile Smiles; The Real Junk Food Project)
Lifetime contribution to Leicester Comedy Festival: Louise Grainger & Equity
The Elvis Dead, a show in which the cult classic horror movie Evil Dead 2 is reinterpreted through the songs of Elvis, is the first show to win two awards. Performer Rob Kemp says: "...two for the show! Thank you so much to The Jokes On Us, who put on the show, The Soundhouse venue and the fantastic tech team, who elevated the show to something I hope it can continue to be. Thank you for being on board with this ridiculously niche idea."