keeping up appearances

Keeping Up Appearances

1990 - United Kingdom

Keeping Up Appearances became one of the best loved British television sitcoms ever, with great casting and acting and the writing talents of Roy Clarke who has written some of the best and funniest sitcoms that have ever graced our TV screens, like Last of the Summer Wine and Open All Hours. Keeping up Appearances ran for five series from 1990 to 1995, with 44 episodes including four Christmas specials. Not only was the show a huge success in the UK, it was also very popular in the United States and Australia. 

Patricia Routledge starred as the Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced Bouquet), who spends her entire time trying to climb the local social ladder, much to the dismay of her long suffering husband Richard, played by Clive Swift. It is Richard that has to put up with the worst of Hyacinth's behaviour and the man must truly have what can only be described as having the patients of a saint. Hyacinth is not a bad person, just one that has high standards that she would like other people to live up to, even though she struggles to meet these standards herself. Hyacinth is just so desperate to rise above her lower middle class standing in society and longs for her candle-lit suppers to be an unmissable event on the local social calender. The thing is, with Hyacinth nothing ever goes to plan, whether it's the local amateur dramatics latest production, or a luxury ocean cruise, something is always guaranteed to go wrong at some point. 

keeping up appearances cast

Keeping up Appearances has a great supporting group of characters as well. Hyacinth's family continue to be a source of embarrassment to her. She has three sisters, the man hungry Rose who was originally played by Shirley Stelfox in the first series but then was replaced by Mary Millar for the rest of the shows run. Another sister Violet, who has a swimming pool, sauna and room for a pony, is not seen in the show until the last series played by Anna Dawson, but she does often phone Hyacinth and ask for advice about her husband, who has a penchant for cross dressing. It is her sister Daisy and her work-shy husband Onslow that cause Hyacinth the most embarrassment. 

Daisy and Onslow, played by brilliantly Judy Cornwell and the sadly missed Geoffrey Hughes, are the members of her family she would rather not admit to. They live on the local council state and share their house with Rose and the girls Daddy, who when he is seen, is often re-enacting the war, complete with bayoneted rifle! Then there are the neighbours Elizabeth and her brother Emmet who are often reluctantly involved in her attempts to integrate with the great and the good of the local parish. There are some brilliant running jokes through the whole of the series, like a very nervous Elizabeth played by Josephine Tewson, being unable to drink a cup of the coffee round the Bucket's house without smashing a cup of Hyacinth's best Royal Doulton with the hand painted periwinkles. Elizabeth's divorced brother Emmet lives in fear of Hyacinth, fearing that she will sing at him! Hyacinth actually thinks that Emmet's nerves are down to him being infatuated with her. Emmet is brilliantly underplayed by David Griffin.

There are other characters that put in appearances during the series, like the young Vicar and his wife, who Hyacinth is always out to impress and the postman who cannot deliver a letter or parcel without having to abide by Hyacinth's complaints. Then there is Hyacinth's son Sheridan who is never seen but often on the phone to his mother, asking for some financial help while he is studying needlework at college. It is not hard to see why this show is still so popular whenever and where ever it is shown. It has a formula it follows, but it works so well with such a brilliant cast with such well written scripts.

Published on December 28th, 2018. Written by Glyn Howells for Television Heaven.

Read Next...

Curry and Chips

Poorly received sitcom by Johnny Speight who attempted (and many would say failed) to highlight the stupidity of racism.

Also tagged Britcom

Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer

Vic Reeves Big Night Out was perhaps one of the most weird and wonderful comedies to come out of the 1990s, but the origins of the show started way before that...

Also released in 1990

Butterflies TV series

Gently thoughtful, amusing and well observed eighties situation comedy series for the BBC about a seemingly ordinary, contented, middle class suburban housewife who suddenly find herself plunged into the middle of a disorienting, emotionally tumultuous, mid-life crisis.

Also tagged Britcom

And Mother Makes Three

Almost a direct follow on from the BBC's hugely popular Not In Front Of The Children starring Wendy Craig who was in an almost constant state of domestic discord...

Also tagged Britcom

Ronald Fraser and Diana Dors in The Misfit

Having returned from a colonial life in Malaya to an England he longer recognised Basil Allenby-Johnson, "the Alf Garnett of the middle classes", takes a verbal swing at feminism; permissive and undisciplined youth; age prejudice by employers; student demos; the press; and the health service.

Also tagged Roy Clarke

Flickers

Fresh from a third-rate career in the music halls, forty-year-old Arnie Cole (Bob Hoskins) has turned movie pioneer, showing single-reel films in makeshift cinemas during the first quarter of the twentieth century.

Also tagged Roy Clarke

Billy Liar

Adapted from the highly successful novel/play/film by successful writing team Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall, this version of Billy Liar was updated by them to make it more relevant to the early 1970s.

Also tagged Britcom

The Bulldog Breed

A single series of seven comedies about Tom, the perennial optimist, as he wanders through life leaving chaos in his wake totally oblivious to the problems he causes for everyone.

Also tagged Britcom