Victoria Wood aids her debut theatre

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Victoria Wood has stepped in to save the pub theatre that launched her career by donating proceeds from her forthcoming Royal Albert Hall show to the tiny north London venue.

Dan Crawford, who founded the upstairs theatre at the 19th-century King's Head in Islington in 1970 and discovered many stage and screen stars, hitch-hiked to Sheffield 22 years ago to tempt Wood on to the stage. She has returned many times over the years, supporting the theatre she called a "vital asset to the creative life of the British Isles".

After a written plea from Mr Crawford, she agreed to donate half the proceeds from At It Again, with the other half going to the cancer charity Cancerch.

Mr Crawford said: "It was creditors here and creditors there. I was thinking of doing bob-a-job. It was desperate. Victoria has allowed us to come up for air. It will keep us afloat another year, it is a real life-saver."

The West End hit Vagina Monologues has been performed at the venue Steven Berkoff described as a "sanctuary for every maverick in the theatre world". Those who started there include Gary Oldman, Richard E Grant, Hugh Grant, Tom Conti and Kathy Burke. The London Arts Board withdrew its £38,122 annual core funding in 1999 and a similar London borough grant disappeared after that.