My word, if you are a middle-aged to older celebrity, these must be nervous times. They say things come in threes, but 2016 seems to be the year when things are coming in multiples of threes, if those things are celebrity deaths.
There is a running battle in the house over a number of things, and one of them is morning TV. My husband likes a bit of noise in the morning, whereas I enjoy my thinking brain having the space to get up to full speed without noise.
At first, actually, I did not mind the TV news on, I would go to work ready to engage in light discussion over the latest national or international event. These were the pre-Internet days, or at least the days before the Internet exploded with content and it rushed through our living spaces like a tidal wave.
Then came 9/11 and rolling news rolling the story over and over. It was awful and I ended up not remembering a day that I had not cried at least once before my working day had started. I made a decision and switched the TV off. I decided that the best thing would be never to watch the news before work again, it was too depressing all around and there were better ways to start the day.
My resolution has largely stuck, but of course now there is the Internet, which means things have come full circle and I tend to fire up my Twitter account to see what people have been up to, which will generally mean that I get news whether the TV is on or not.
So this morning I did this once again and about the third post I saw was a portrait of British comedian, writer and performer Victoria Wood, with two years beneath her image: her birth year and the current one. Victoria Wood was only in her early sixties and I could have named a dozen other celebrities that I would have thought would die before her.
Victoria Wood stood out because she was able to wring comedy from the most mundane and domestic of situations and characters and her partnership with Julie Walters translated that into comedy gold. Last year, there was a bit row in the UK over a lack of female comedians on panel shows, and women are still underprepresented in this group. Victoria Wood had the determination to make it and did not wait for a panel show opportunity (although she did get her start on a TV talent show), she wrote and performed her own material – a modern Joyce Grenfell – and in doing so she lit a trail for other female comedians. I watched a clip of her performing as an aerobics instructor on stage today, and the physical comedy aside, the jokes – which may be funnier to women, and why the hell not? – were fantastic. She played underdogs with a cheerful lack of awareness in their own lack of ability and made a hero of them.
So many celebs seem to have died this year so far, BBC Radio Four went as far to see if the numbers were indeed higher. They took a census of all celebrity obituaries each year from 2103 to 2016. Not only had the number of dying celebrities increased steadily, this year is already at double the rate in 2015. Grim times for the stars. The theory being that TV hit a golden age in the 1970s and therefore the crop of actors musicians and presenters from that era is now an aged one, so things are only going to get worse.
I may have to consign my iPad to the same fate as my TV in the mornings, because I once again find myself crying before I get to work.
RIP Victoria Wood, Ronnie Corbett, Paul Daniels, Terry Wogan, Alan Rickman, David Bowie.