• February 28, 2024

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Nineties sitcom Keeping Up Appearances followed Hyacinth Bucket, pronounced ‘bouquet’, as she battled between her working class roots and aspiring middle class status. The social climber and series struck a chord with the class-obsessed British public and featured many terrific characters.

Created and written by Roy Clarke, by February 2016 it had been sold nearly 1,000 times to overseas broadcasters, despite only running from 1990 to 1995. Regularly named on lists of the best sitcoms ever produced, two locations in Coventry were in fact used as the outside of both Hyacinth’s and Daisy and Onslow’s houses.

The series starred many fantastic characters, each one a depiction of someone we all know in real life, and boasted a talented cast of performers who went on to other productions.

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Patricia Routledge – Hyacinth Bucket

Hetty Wainthropp Investigates television programme with actor Derek Benfield as Robert Patricia Routledge as Hetty and Dominic Monaghan as Geoffrey

Routledge as Hetty Wainthropp alongside future Lord of the Rings star Dominic Monaghan (right)

Routledge was already a TV, film and stage regular coming into Keeping Up Appearances, but the show’s success catapulted her into becoming a household name. Now, 93, the Tony and Olivier Award winner went on to star in Hetty Wainthropp Investigates, a cosy crime drama from 1996 to 1998.

After the series, the Birkenhead-born actress returned to her first love of theatre and has toured with various productions, including The Importance of Being Earnest, The Best of Friends, Admission: One Shilling and most recently in 2014, An Ideal Husband.

Routledge is famed for her tireless work ethic and was still performing on stage in 2021. She was awarded a damehood in 2017 for services to theatre and charity by the late-Queen. Hyacinth would be proud.

Jeremy Gittins – Michael (the vicar)

Judy Cornwell and Jeremy Gittins on Pointless

Judy Cornwell and Jeremy Gittins on Pointless

Gittin’s character was the ‘dishy’ Church of England vicar at St Mark’s Church and referred to Hyacinth as ‘the Bucket woman” when discussing her with his wife. He went on to star in staples of UK-made television, including EastEnders, Doctors, A Touch of Frost, New Tricks and Midsomer Murders.

In 2020, Gittins appeared on TV gameshow Pointless alongside co-star Judy Cornwell, who played Daisy in Keeping up Appearances.

Geoffrey Hughes – Onslow

Geoffrey Hughes in Heartbeat

Geoffrey Hughes in Heartbeat (Image: Yorkshire Television)

Hyacinth’s brother-in-law, Hughes brilliantly played Onslow on the sitcom, a character described by himself as “work shy and bone idle”. For most, he is recognisable as Twiggy in the award-winning comedy drama The Royle Family, playing Jim and Dave’s best friend known for selling knock-off gear, but also appeared in The Upper Hand, Heartbeat, Casualty and Skins.

Hughes died in 2012 at the age of 68 from prostate cancer, having initially being diagnosed with it in 1996.

Clive Swift – Richard Bucket

Clive Swift

Clive Swift had a TV career spanning almost six decades (Image: Mirrorpix)

Swift played Hyacinth’s long-suffering husband on the sitcom and the pair were a joy to watch together. Following his death at the age of 82 in 2019, his on-screen wife paid tribute, saying: “Clive was a skilful and inventive actor with wide experience, as his successful career proved.”

After Keeping up Appearances, Swift went on to star in Doctor Who, Cuckoo, Peak Practice, The Old Guys and finally Midsomer Murders. As well as acting, Swift was a songwriter and toured Richard Bucket Overflows: An Audience with Clive Swift in 2007 and Clive Swift Entertains two years later, in which he performed his own music and lyrics.

Swift’s son, Joe, can regularly be seen on the BBC Gardeners’ World and is a garden designer and presenter.

Judy Cornwell – Daisy

Photocall for new BBC production 'Keeping up Appearances'. Judy Cornwell. 2nd August 1992.

Judy Cornwell as Daisy (Image: Daily Mirror)

Played by Cornwell, Daisy was Hyacinth’s sister and married to Onslow. While she is still best-known for her role in Keeping Up Appearances, she went on to appear in many British productions such as Famous Five, Midsomer Murders, EastEnders, Birds of a Feather, Heartbeat and films David Copperfield and Persuasion.

Now 82, Cornwell has become known for playing Miss Marple in many stage productions, including ‘A Murder Is Announced’ between 2014 and 2016. She also launched her fourth novel, Fear and Favour, in 1996.

Josephine Tewson – Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Warden

Josephine Tewson

Josephine Tewson as Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Warden

Hyacinth’s friendly neighbour in the sitcom, the actress had a prolific career and has featured in over 60 TV and film productions. Tewson died at the age of 91 in August 2022, but was working up until 2015 with an episode on Doctors.

Post-1995, she appeared in Holby City, Lewis, Heartbeat and most notably a seven-year stint in Last of the Summer Wine as Miss Lucinda Davenport. Tewson was also a regular on stage, starring in theatre production of Romeo and Juliet, The Importance of Being Earnest and A Woman of No Importance.

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